Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

The Australian government has drafted new laws that would cancel international deals struck by lower tiers of governments with foreign states that are not in Australia’s interests, officials said on Thursday in a move likely to increase tensions with China.

Victoria state’s memorandum of understanding with Beijing under China’s belt and road initiative, signed two years ago to attract more Chinese infrastructure investment, is among the deals to be reviewed, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison would not comment on the likely of the Victorian deal with China being scrapped under the proposed new federal powers, saying he did not want to “prejudice the outcome” of a review.

Story continues below advertisement

The legislation to be introduced to Parliament next week did not target China, he said.

“My biggest concern is Australia’s national sovereign interest,” Morrison told reporters.

“Protecting and promoting Australia’s national interest is the primary job of the federal government,” he added.

The Australian government had already identified 135 agreements with more than 30 countries that needed to be reviewed, the foreign minister said.

The legislation would give Payne power to scrap international deals struck by state governments, public institutions such as universities and at local government level, sister-city partnerships.

It would also create a national register of such deals.

Future deals would need federal government approval and could be revoked later.

Story continues below advertisement

The Foreign Relations Bill was announced days after the government revealed it had blocked the $430-million sale of a major dairy business, Lion Dairy and Drinks, to China Mengniu Dairy Co. on the grounds that it would be “contrary to the national interest.”

The government intervention was unusual in that it did not prevent an Australia-owned company from being taken over by a foreign company. Australia had instead blocked the transfer of ownership of an Australia-based asset from one foreign company, Japan’s Kirin Holdings Co., to a Chinese company.

The Victoria government agreement with Beijing has raised concerns among federal government lawmakers that it could increase Chinese interference in Australia’s second-most populous state.

Peter Jennings, executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think-tank , said the Victorian deal with Beijing should be overturned.

“That was something that the Victorian government pursued quite openly against the stated interests of the federal government and the opposition … that Australia was not going to commit itself to those types of arrangements,” Jennings said.

“I just don’t see that that is something that should be sustainable,” Jennings added.

Story continues below advertisement

James Laurenceson, director of University of Technology Sydney’s Australia-China Relations Institute, questioned whether the proposed legislation was “an overreaction.”

“We know the Australian government has been running a very tough line on China, that’s been consistent and it hasn’t been effected by the belt and road memorandum of understanding at all,” Laurenceson said.

Follow related topics

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies