A CHINESE developer is promising Asian investors they will also get a “permanent resident visa in as little as six months” if they buy into a Hunter Valley land deal.
But a Daily Telegraph investigation can today reveal how the company’s pledge to help wealthy Chinese families “easily acquire” a “high-quality lifestyle” is built on lies — even listing on its website “co-operating” lawyers and local politicians who have nothing to do with the project.
And now the state government will this morning demand a “high-level briefing”.
The 223-lot estate in the sleepy town of Millfield has outraged locals, who warn it could double the population and wipe out their rural community if it goes ahead.
A translation of the Profit Palace website reveals how it links “owning 750sqm” of land in its estate with helping buyers gain access to a 132A visa — a special type of entry reserved for “high-calibre” business people.
“After being granted this visa, the applicant and their family members can enjoy the social welfare benefits that Australian citizens are entitled to,” boasts the company, headed by a Jiang “James” Xiao.
“At the moment, this project has received NSW state government and local city government support. The project’s approval process is close to complete, and the 132 visa has received pre-approval.”
It goes on to say: “Even if you don’t understand English, you can quickly get connected to Australian political and business circles. You and your friends can leisurely ride horses, or have a sandboarding competition.
“You can enjoy picking grapes in your own backyard, appreciate the beautiful sunrise, or study winemaking … of course you can also take a hot-air balloon ride and enjoy the Hunter Valley’s unique Brokeback (sic) Mountain, have a helicopter adventure, or enjoy the folk music festival.”
The website includes a photo of Mr Xiao with Parramatta MP Geoff Lee in his electorate office. However, Mr Lee denies any knowledge of the company.
“I do not know anything about this company or the site. That picture was used without my permission — and I will be writing to them to ask them to remove my photo,” he said. “I can’t remember when the photo was taken. The background is in my old office and we moved about 18 months ago.”
Highly respected immigration lawyer Nigel Dobbie is also pictured on the website and described as a “co-operating lawyer”. But he, too, has no knowledge of the deal.
“This is outrageous,” he told The Telegraph. “I am nothing to do with that company or that project. They used to be in the same building as me but that is it.”
Mr Dobbie also said there was “no requirement” to purchase property to be eligible for a 132A visa.
The website also leads viewers to believe it has already sold nine properties.
Yet The Daily Telegraph can reveal that no properties have yet been sold.
A map used on the site with “SOLD” images over parcels of land is actually for another Hunter Valley development.
Repeated messages left for Mr Xiao have not been returned.
He is described on the site as chief executive director of Rundu Australia, but a search shows no company registered under that name.
He is a registered director of Profit Palace Pty Ltd, in which he holds 20 shares.
A person called Yan Hou, based in Guangzhou, China, holds the other 80 shares.
Mr Xiao’s office is listed as Suite 1701, 31 Market Street, Sydney, but the number is disconnected.
When The Telegraph tracked him down, Mr Xiao referred us to assistant Chelsea Chen, who said the office had relocated to Rhodes. She refused to give the address.
Ms Chen could not supply the cost of any of the land, or house and land packages, saying it was “early days”.
The website also flags a “famous” hotel brand would be part of the development, “estimated to include … 50 guest rooms, a gym, entertainment room, sauna, private club, high class dining and other entertainment facilities”.
But there is no planning application for such facilities.
A spokesman for Planning Minister Anthony Roberts last night said: “The Minister is very concerned about the comments made by the proponent that seem to indicate planning approvals have been granted that haven’t been.
“He will be seeking a high-level briefing from the Department on Monday over the exact details of the approval process and any details that have been entered into.
“The Minister has been a harsh critic of inappropriate foreign investment and will be keeping a close eye on this.”
Cessnock councillor Paul Dunn said the council could not control who bought properties. “If it’s for sale, it’s for sale … Who they market it to is not a determining factor in giving approval,” Mr Dunn said.
The development has caused huge controversy in Millfield, which has a population of 1006.
The sleepy town is about 15km southwest of Cessnock. The main road still houses the 82-year-old clapboard village hall, now a private home, which once hosted debutante balls and wedding receptions.
Mount View Road, where the new estate is planned, is even quieter.
Sue Taylor, who lives opposite the site, said: “It’s appalling. It’s just not the right kind of development for here. The peace and quiet, that people move here for, will be gone.”