Lal Lal Estate being sold to Chinese wool company

HISTORIC Lal Lal Estate is in the process of being sold to a Chinese buyer.

The 2000-hectare fine wool merino property, which has been owned by the Fisken family for six generations, will be bought by Chinese wool buying company Tianyu.

Tianyu’s Australian head of operations Peter Carey confirmed the company’s interest in buying the 168-year-old property but refused to offer further comment.

Geoff Fisken also declined to comment.

It follows the sale of Larundel Estate near Elaine in 2011 to another Chinese buyer, Shandong Ruyi.

Democratic Labour Party Senator for Victoria John Madigan said it was disappointing another iconic Victorian property would no longer be in Australian hands.

Senator Madigan said he had no issue with the Fisken family selling the property, but rather that there was no Australian buyer for it. 

“I understand some people are looking to retire and sell their farms. I also understand if people see they are going to get good money from a foreign buyer that a local person can’t match, they will sell,” Senator Madigan said. 

“It is Geoff Fiskin’s property to sell but I and other people would prefer to see it in Australian hands. I see it as another example of what is happening in the nation and this time it is right on our back door.

It is Geoff Fiskin’s property to sell but I and other people would prefer to see it in Australian hands. - Senator John Madigan

“I’m not anti-Chinese, I am pro-Australian. (Tianyu) could bypass Australia’s wool industry. They can potentially have a fully integrated system which offers very little benefit for people from the area. They will need some input from local people, but they are not a philanthropic trust.

“Lal Lal Estate and Larundel Estate are iconic western Victorian properties with links to our history. Larundel has a perfectly good house that would have had a staff member living there. Now it is empty. It used to have a host of shearers, now it’s a fraction of that.”

Senator Madigan said if Australians wanted the country’s food resources to remain in Australian hands they needed to send a message to the government to back Australian farmers and manufacturers.

He reiterated 5.8 per cent of Australian land, including 11.3 per cent of agricultural land, was now foreign owned.

“I have grave concerns about our land falling into foreign hands. I would like to see support for our farmers and food processors to be able to take up opportunities in this country. But there is no level playing field for our farmers. That is why Senator Nick Xenophon and I are suggesting the ARDB (Australian Reconstruction and Development Board) bill.

"We had the Commonwealth Development Bank where manufacturers and farmers could access funding to purchase land or businesses. We need a Rural Development Bank so Australians can compete."

Lal Lal is the latest historic rural property in the region to be put on the market.

Trawalla was sold in 2011 to a Geelong family for $20 million after generations in the Mackenzie family. Ercildoune Homestead was put up for sale last year, but was passed-in at auction.

The Victorian Farmers Federation declined to comment on the sale of the Lal Lal Estate.

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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