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Matter of Public Importance - Cambria Green Development
Parliamentary Activity - Thursday, 14 June 2018
MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
Cambria Estate, Swansea
Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens - Motion) - Madam Speaker, I move -
That the House take notice of the following matter: Cambria Estate, Swansea.
On the morning of 21 April this year there was a signing ceremony between Beijing Lidaohengtong Culture and Art Company Limited and the Cambria Green Agricultural and Tourism Management Co. Limited at the Diaoyutai Hotel in Beijing. It was a signing ceremony for the joint development and construction of the Cambrian Culture and Art Town. It says here in a report in Chinese media at the signing ceremony that the chairman of Beijing Lidaohengtong Culture and the chairman of Cambria Green Agricultural Tourism signed a cooperation agreement that the cultural and arts town can be used as a featured town that integrates cultural, leisure and aged care.
On 24 April this year, the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council ruled that the submission for a specific area plan and other amendments, Cambria Estate Swansea, for an extensive tourism development on the outskirts of Swansea and including parts of Dolphin Sands –
… met the requirements set out in the Land Use Planning and Approvals Act 1993 for a planning scheme amendment.
… the request be initiated with minor changes only.
Madam Speaker, we are talking about a development proposal the likes of which Tasmania has never seen before - 3185 hectares of prime agricultural and coastal land on Tasmania's east coast. What we do know from the scant detail that was provided to council before the dopey majority on council waved this through, is that there would be, maybe - there is no certainty about this - 139 villas and units, wedding and function facilities within the Cambria homestead precinct, 161 villas and units along the Meredith River, an 80-unit health retreat, and 150 resort in the Hills Resort Precinct, 70 villas and 240 units of tourist accommodation, a major conference centre, an 18-hole golf course, and a 9-hole golf course with 20 accommodation units.
It is a fact that there is no requirement on the proponent to stick to their outlined project in any way and the council has little right or control over refusal of the project.
Let us look at the company that has put forward this development proposal. Cambria Green Trading Corporation Pty Ltd has 60 associated entities according to ASIC, all of which have exactly the same date of incorporation, 12 August 2015. Not long after, Mr Lui Kejing visited the Premier of Tasmania and presented him with a scroll in April 2015. So now we have a company that is a proponent which, on a single day, registered 60 separate entities. When you look at the purchase process for the parcels of land we are talking about here, another company was under this umbrella, Cambria Green Agricultural Development. It was listed in Victoria on 24 February 2015 and is one of nine companies under the Cambria Green umbrella that individually acquired 12 plots totalling more than 3000 hectares at Swansea and Dolphin Sands. Of the nine companies, only one, Cambria Green Agricultural Development, is registered in Australia. All the others do not exist in Australia.
We brought this matter on for debate because we recognise that on the east coast of Tasmania there is growing alarm that a proposal has been cosied along by Government for the best part of three years through the Office of the Coordinator-General oiling the wheels. On the east coast they are concerned about the scale of this proposal, the impact on their way of life, its impact on Moulting Lagoon. They are concerned about Tasmania's sovereignty and our food security. The re-zoning is to re-zone prime agricultural land at Dolphin Sands for a specific area plan which would create an enclave.
It is a fact, for anyone who understands the way the Chinese communist government operates, that if a Chinese company is to be successful overseas it has the tacit endorsement from a level of government in China, local state or national. Every company based in mainland China that is operating overseas has a level of backing from Beijing, the Chinese communist government. That is absolutely 100 per cent true.
Mr Hidding interjecting.
Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Hidding, you are naïve at best if you do not think that is the case. This is a question of our sovereignty; it goes to the future of what we want for this beautiful island. It goes to the heart of a problem that we have in defending our shores from developers that come from all over the place with big money promises, get the wheels oiled. Very rarely do governments or councils ask questions that need to be asked. All the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council saw was the number - $100 million. It is a fantasy number. There is nothing beneath it to confirm where that money is coming from. Of course there are concerns. On the north-west coast of Tasmania the company that bought VDL, Moonlake Investments, is now in deep financial trouble because the Foreign Investment Review Board, and ultimately Scott Morrison, did not ask the question about the where the money is coming from. Where the money comes from is state-owned Chinese banks.
I expect to hear, when whoever responds to this gets to their feet, that we are being xenophobic. They are the talking points of the Chinese communist government when people raise questions about sovereignty and food security. It is the Chinese communist government's agenda to have critics labelled xenophobs or racists in order to dampen debate. I have said on a number of occasions that this is not about race or ethnicity. This is about politics and the strategic objectives of a Chinese communist government. President Xi Jinping did not come here in 2014 just to look at the place; he came here to case the joint. That was written by now Senator Nick McKim in an op-ed in the Mercury at the time. The time since then has proven that to be true.
We need to have this debate and we will make sure parliament is given a proper opportunity to do so in the weeks ahead.
Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Deputy Speaker, this morning's Mercury had a piece about the Cambria Green project that said it was threat to Tasmania. That is what everybody who has looked into this project understands it to be. It is a threat to the social fabric of the east coast. It is a threat to the environment of the east coast. It is a threat to the water security of the east coast. It is fundamentally a threat to the future of Tasmania.
This project represents a fork in the road. This project is an essential building block for the Chinese Communist Party to take residence in Tasmania and to use it as a launch pad for its various strategic objectives. A primary objective is to use Tasmania as a stop-off on the way to Antarctica.
Australia's Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, has grave concerns about what is happening in the South China Sea and grave concerns about Australian companies and governments incautiously jumping into arrangements with businesses which can only operate outside of China with the blessing and help of the Chinese Communist Government. A scholar from the University of Tasmania has made that clear. This is how business operates in China. This is not an issue of racism or xenophobia. This is a question of state sovereignty. This is a question of our ability to manage our resources for our children, for our security as a state, for our food and water supply, and for our ability to determine our future.
The Liberal Government has been glad-handed by one of the most powerful people on the planet. When President Xi Jinping came to Tasmania in 2014 this Premier, these ministers sitting in this House, fawned all over such a powerful person. They had wet dreams about the prospects for planning and tourism in Tasmania. I want to withdraw that comment because that was probably not parliamentary.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - On a point of order, Dr Woodruff, if you could please.
Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, I withdraw that for Hansard. It was exciting for them but a nightmare for others. When a government develops an overly cosy and incautious relationship with the Chinese Communist Government, a $100 million project can go through a tiny local council. The Planning Minister has refused to investigate complaints to the Director of Local Government about the corrupt processes of the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council and the misconduct of councillors. He has refused to investigate the complaints because he wants a lameduck council to sign it off. The east coast community had four days to look at -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order. Dr Woodruff, there is a standing order that states you should not accuse a member, or a minister, of certain things unless it is a substantive motion. Just be aware of what you say as far as accusing a minister.
Dr WOODRUFF - Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I hope you stopped the clock since you do not have the standing order. I was not accusing anyone. I was talking about allegations that were made. People are catching on about what is going on here in Tasmania. Professor Michael Buxton, a planning expert, said this development does not benefit anybody except the developer and the investors. It is based on gaining large-scale private profits at public expense. It is a development on a monstrous scale for a place that is water scarce. The water requirements for this huge tourism development would need to tap into fresh water supplies -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Dr Woodruff, if I could just interrupt there. Standing order 144 -
No member shall use offensive or unbecoming words in reference to another member of this House nor attribute directly or by innuendo to another member unbecoming conduct or motives and all offensive references to the member, private affairs ...
And so it goes on.
Ms O'CONNOR - Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask your guidance about whether that Standing Order will be applied to defend the Greens as well as the Liberals. Our character and motive is impugned daily in this place.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - You were directing it at a specific minister.
Ms O'Connor - We cop that too.
Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like clarification about how I have offended a minister by saying there has been -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order. It is in the standing orders. I have reminded you of the Standing Order and so I hope you take notice of that.
Dr WOODRUFF - I do not understand what was offensive about speaking the truth. The Planning minister has failed to act on complaints from east coast residents.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - You were talking about the motives, or by innuendo of the motives of the minister. That is where I refer specifically to the section I read out.
Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Deputy Speaker, let us get back to the matter at hand which is important for Tasmania. This is all -
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Let us, but the member's time has expired.
Dr WOODRUFF - Oh really. There was no stopping the clock for the points of order?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - The member's time has expired.
Dr WOODRUFF - That is a novel way of shutting a member down.