THE purchase of land for a large East Coast development should be referred to the Foreign Investment Review Board, a University of Tasmania researcher says.
The Glamorgan Spring Bay Council voted in November to amend its planning rules to allow the $138 million Cambria Green development proposed for Dolphin Sands to proceed.
That amendment is before the Tasmanian Planning Commission. The commission has asked why the same signature appeared on documents from seven different companies that own the parcels of land key to the development.
The land is owned by different companies, but one signature, that of Kejing Liu, was used on behalf of the companies.
A witness statement has been sent to the commission from Cambria Green Agriculture Development chief executive officer Ronald Hu.
“Cambria Green Agriculture Development is the Australian Registered Corporation that … acts as an agent of each of the foreign corporations,” it read.
“I have the authority of each of the foreign corporations and of Mr Kejing Liu to make this witness statement.
“Each [landowner] consent form is signed by Kejing Liu and with the authority of each company.”
In a submission to the commission, UTAS adjunct researcher and planning expert Peggy James questioned if the project complied with Foreign Investment Review Board requirements for the purchase of agricultural land. Dr James said the Federal Government required approvals for any foreign purchase of agricultural land over $15 million.
“The key questions that arise, therefore, are was the combined value of the land acquired by Mr Liu and associates more than the $15 million threshold and, if so, was the approval of the FIRB obtained,” she wrote.
Dr James did not allege any wrongdoing took place, but the issue was likely to be brought up in any hearing.
“If Mr Liu is indeed both the owner of the land parcels in his name and has substantial holdings in the companies that own all but one of the remaining parcels, then the cumulative value of the combined agricultural land must be quite substantial,” she said.