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Australia to boost protection of critical infrastructure
[SYDNEY] The Australian government is drawing up a list of key infrastructure assets, including power grids and ports and has set up a new body that will scrutinise foreign-led bids to see if there are national security issues, it said on Monday.
The newly established Critical Infrastructure Centre will conduct risk assessments, advise on transactions and help prevent sabotage, espionage and coercion, the government said in a statement.
Its creation follows a series of controversial foreign investment rulings that prompted the Chinese government to label Australia "protectionist".
The Foreign Investment Review Board is currently considering whether to approve the US$5.5 billion acquisition of DUET Group by a consortium led by Hong Kong's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings (CKI).
DUET's assets include the Dampier-to-Bunbury gas pipeline in Western Australia, which provides fuel for half of the power generation in the country's biggest export state.
Australia last year rejected separate bids by CKI and China's State Grid Corp to buy all of Ausgrid, the biggest power grid in the nation's most populous state, New South Wales, on national security grounds.
The government has since imposed foreign investment restrictions on the sales process for a smaller power grid, Endeavour Energy.