Hypocrite Hockey markets $8 million mansion to Chinese buyers

By Leith van Onselen

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

It’s June 2015, and Treasurer Joe Hockey is furious that a wealthy neighbour of his in Hunters Hill Sydney had sold his heritage listed home to a Chinese buyer, even referring the matter to the Foreign Investment Review Board. Here’s Hockey speaking on 3AW Radio:

“I referred one of my own neighbours and found out they had got approval on pretty spurious grounds”…

“They bought a property on the basis that … they were going to add to the housing stock by building a granny flat out the back or something, and I thought that’s ridiculous”…

In August 2015, Joe Hockey stood in front of the Canberra press gallery vowing to crackdown on illegal sales of established homes to non-resident buyers, as well as promising to tighten the penalty regime:

Australia’s foreign investment policy for residential real estate is designed to increase our housing stock, but those who break the rules and purchase established property illegally are doing so to the detriment of all Australians. Unlike the previous Government, which didn’t take action, we are determined to enforce the rules and where appropriate make them even tighter. I will be introducing legislation into the Parliament in the next two weeks that will ensure the reporting requirements, enforcement and penalty regimes for foreign investors who break the laws are stricter and more significant. These new penalties are designed to ensure that no-one should be able to profit from breaking the rules. To you for questions…

I will be announcing significant penalties for those that are in breach of the rules, for example in relation to non-residents who hold existing real estate they will face a maximum criminal penalty of $127,000 or three years imprisonment. In relation to civil penalties, which I think will be the most significant and the newest part of the penalty regime, the penalty will be that they will lose the capital gain made on the property, 25 per cent of the purchase price or 25 per cent of the market value of the property. So that, of course, is a very significant penalty that does not exist under the current regime. It is also important to note that under the new regime, third parties such as real estate agents, financial advisers and so on may be prosecuted as well for assisting in the purchase of existing residential real estate or the unlawful activity of someone involved.

In December 2015, the new regulatory regime was born whereby illegal buyers of established homes, as well as third party facilitators (like real estate agents), suddenly faced large penalties (see below tables).

ScreenHunter_8168 Jul. 07 08.07
ScreenHunter_8169 Jul. 07 08.07
ScreenHunter_8170 Jul. 07 08.08
ScreenHunter_8171 Jul. 07 08.09
ScreenHunter_8172 Jul. 07 08.09

Joe Hockey was dumped as Treasurer in September 2013, and it seems his time away in Washington as US Ambassador has erased his memory of the rules surrounding foreign purchases of established real estate. Because Hockey is now seeking to sell his established $8 million Hunters Hill mansion to a non-resident Chinese buyer. From Realestate.com.au:

JOE Hockey is trying to flog a Hunters Hill mansion to Chinese buyers in an ironic twist for the federal treasurer who crusaded against foreigners entering our housing market.

The Australian ambassador to the US once even referred a neighbour to the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Mr Hockey and his investment banker wife Melissa Babbage have listed the $8 million “Te Roma” federation house on the Chinese website myfun, which showcases prestige Australian listings in Mandarin.

The ¥40 million offering provides contact details in China to take buyer queries on the historic 1905 home before a March 1 deadline.

Questions put to Mr Hockey’s office at the Washington embassy went unanswered yesterday…

Mr Hockey’s Sydney listing agent Brad Pillinger… hoped Chinese New Year tourism celebrations may bring offshore interest.

This is definitely a transaction that the ATO should monitor very closely. The question is, will it enforce the rules and prosecute both the buyer and listing agent in the event that the property does sell? Or will it continue to turn a blind eye?

[email protected]

Leith van Onselen


  1. His thinking has clearly matured over the last few years and he has come to a more nuanced and fully rounded view of all the relevant factors that should be taken into account regarding such a transaction. I believe there are just over 8 million relevant factors.

    • He just bought a 2400 sqm Hunters Hill property for $8m, now he has listed his former 1400 sqm Hunters Hill home on Myfun for CNY 40m. That’s the same money for 1000 sqm less. That doesn’t sound like a very good deal but perhaps if he locates a keen buyer he’ll offer to help out with the paperwork.

      • TailorTrashMEMBER

        Bought before he sold ?….either he and or his missus must have some good dosh floating about or a big bridging loan to service ……still ….he is getting free digs in Washington so easy come easy go .

      • The one he’s selling is rented out so probably neg geared. all good. Oh wait, does he get taxed in US or Australia? Or Bahamas perhaps?

  2. The only good news to be gleaned from this disgraceful piece of behaviour is that another Aussie political insider with their ear to the ground is selling.

    We’ve always said you will know the crash is ready to roll once politicians and RBA members have sold their properties…

  3. Joe took his own advice and got a better job – one that still allows him to still sponge off taxpayers, only without having to face election, so allows him to do whatever TF he wants.

    • I really wish all the teachers, nurses, police and firies would quit and “look for a higher paying job”. The rich bankers and politicians can remain in Sydney and Melbourne without these critical services.

      • Jumping jack flash

        There is no place for these ‘unimportant’, low paying services such as education and healthcare in our megapolis built on debt which is created by the creation of debt, and attached to houses.

  4. You guys are so wide of the mark it is not funny. This is just a function of the way that REA groups ad packaging works. It is a lazy and stupid beat up. As in really stupid.

      • Waste your time if you like. I’m 100% right on this and anyone who thinks otherwise is wrong. Literally an open / closed issue. Shadow boxing.

      • Mr Hockey and his investment banker wife Melissa Babbage have listed the $8 million “Te Roma” federation house on the Chinese website myfun, which showcases prestige Australian listings in Mandarin.

        The ¥40 million offering provides contact details in China to take buyer queries on the historic 1905 home before a March 1 deadline.

        Mr Hockey’s Sydney listing agent Brad Pillinger… hoped Chinese New Year tourism celebrations may bring offshore interest.

        Nothing to see here, move along. Shadow boxing, witchhunt etc etc. Smokin Joe is a pillar of integrity, thoroughly representative of our political elite. Random internet user, MacMouse, says we’re all wasting our time even reading about it.

      • Dude – you honestly don’t have a clue. Go and talk to any random agent in a decent suburb. This is how the REA premier ads work. Seriously, you are losing the plot and yes, shadow boxing.

      • In fact the paper running the story would have the best insight into all of this because they happen to own the distribution platform. I mean dude, you’re wrong. As in ‘way’ wrong.

      • Guys, there is no “believe” in this. You buy the REA ad package which you do for a house like that, it gets advertised on a whole bunch of platforms globally including in China.

        That. Is. How. The. Expensive AF. REA. Ads. Work.

        Sweet Maria, this is literally gossip column dumb.

      • Has the property been listed on Chinese website myfun?

        Does the agent provide contact details in China to take buyer queries of chinese origin?

        Is Smokin Joe’s listing agent, Brad Pillinger, specifically seeking a chinese buyer for the sale?

        No one gives a flying toss about what is standard practice for the premium end of the housing market, all we want to know is if he is in the process of becoming a raging hypocrite. You comprende?

      • MacMouse,
        If “that’s just how it works” then that in itself is a problem. I’m sure Joe will be using his influence to make sure Aussie property can’t be marketed, by default, to people who aren’t, by default. allowed to buy it at a “dumb foreigner” price premium and all.

      • I think you should. If you can’t answer 3 simple yes or no questions, then you’re every bit the greasy mofo you appear to be.

      • I know it’s not obvious to you, but your mind is literally malfunctioning. This is an ad package for a fancy property on the internet. If that ad package included ads in Syria this issue would be a zero. If the answer to all three of those questions was “yes” it would also be a zero, but in this case it is more appropriate to simply reply with “clicked a button and bought a fancy ad for a house on the internet.” Again, this is a beat up although clearly beat ups can be effective and do cause peoples’ brains to malfunction.

      • You can’t even see the extreme humour which is really what is at play here: He accidentally paid NWS / REA to bash him. It’s actually hilarious.

      • I strip away the ad hominem attacks and the ham fisted attempts at obfuscating the message (…yet again), and all I am left with is…. nothing.

        What you really seem to be struggling with is the concept that no one cares or even disagrees with you about how it’s happened, only that it has happened.

      • You’re literally not thinking straight. This is such a basic, baby simple matter it is utterly and intensely stupid that it has gotten air time.

      • I don’t blame you, I blame whoever’s your primary caregiver. Criminally negligent in allowing you to have internet access (bad enough) when you’re clearly not medicated.

        Now we’re stuck with a thread overflowing with nonsensical rantings.

      • Don’t worry about Brenton, he is an A grade retard. Here is proof –

        “Random internet user, MacMouse, says we’re all wasting our time even reading about it.”

        Brenton you retard, did it ever occur to you that YOU are also just a random internet user? Using that reasoning to discredit others just makes you look even more stupid.

      • DTF, are you still upset about me making a fool out of you last week? 😂

        Aaah, you realize that I am asking the random internet user to provide proof when discrediting the source of the information/opinions, aka named journalists from REA and then MB… literally has nothing to do with my credibility. You really are next level dumb, mate.

      • Should’ve remembered this classic proverb:
        Never argue with an idiot, they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with years of experience.

    • I reckon hardly anyone reading this forum understands how ads for luxury properties work – could you explain what you mean a bit further?

      • MacMouse, Joe decides to sell his house, approaches an agent, agent explains fees and how/where property will be marketed (including China), Joe agrees signs on the dotted line. What’s the issue again?

      • I think Macmouses entire point is that the agent would not have explained explicitly the property would be marketed specifically to Chinese residents – it’s automatic, like getting salt on an order of chips.

    • On the basis that the guy was talking about people double dipping on maternity leave despite it being within his government’s own rules all while he rented his wife’s Canberra property with his own parliamentary living allowance (‘cos the rules say I can), I am willing to believe the worst of him.

      • I mean seriously, if you really dislike the bloke the truth is even funnier: He accidentally paid NWS / REA to bash him. It’s actually hilarious.

    • MacMouthpiece you doth protest too much.
      Simply if the sale is compliant there is no need to advertise the property in Chinese on a foreign site. The motivation for doing so speaks directly to skirting the rules.

      If you are confident this is purely part of a marketing package then what buyer is the agent attempting to lure?

      No passport/visa = No sale! Bring on the AML legislation. ATO Audit and enforcement action now!

      • Wrong. There are many potentially compliant buyers in China. Seriously, the level of crazy on this issue is potentially brain damaging. Sweet Maria.

      • Aaron, MacMouse is right. There are potentially tens of thousands of wealthy overseas buyers ready and legally able to buy the Hockeysticks property. “Compliance” can be bought. For $5m a SIV (Significant Investor Visa) allows anyone, from anywhere to buy second hand established RE in Australia. This is not rorting or skirting FIRBs rules. It IS the rule. Along with other “rules” that permit sales to foreigners in certain circumstances. And they don’t even have to live in it.
        This has been going on for years. It’s not new. Not good certainly, but no surprise.

    • @MacMouse
      Mickey Mouse
      Are you Mickey mousing us around??
      M I C ….. K E Y
      M O U…S… EEEE
      What have ya got?
      Micky Mouse
      It the MICKEY MOUSE fan club!
      You remind me of my childhood and everyone desperate to belong to a dumb club of a cartoon with a smart a$$ mean mouth!
      Everyone is dumber than you. Yeah right!

  5. What exactly makes this advertisement an attempt to sell it to a non-resident chinese buyer? All this excitement would be more appropriate if the sale had already happened and the buyer is a non- resident. Who says the chinese buyer he is trying to find that way is not already a resident?

    • ‘What exactly makes this advertisement an attempt to sell it to a non-resident chinese buyer?’

      Australian properties sold to Australians generally use AUD and not Yuan.

      Also, this line is a dead give away, assuming you read the article: “The ¥40 million offering provides contact details in China to take buyer queries on the historic 1905 home before a March 1 deadline.”

  6. Was any foreigner forced to sell Aussie real estate after Joe Hockey moved to USA?

    Although, the vast majority of Aussies are not trying to buy a 1400 sqm plot of land that Joe is selling. What we should be doing is stopping foreigners from buying 500 sqm plots of land so that the price of land goes down while allowing Chinese millionaires to buy mansions for $5 million and hopefully their wives buy expensive goods from shops here. Millionaires are not going to be working here for $10/hour – the most insidious aspect of Labor’s mass immigration cult.

  7. I’m guessing the FIRB will continue to turn a blind eye!!

    …either that or it is so inadequately resourced that it wont even detect the transaction if and when it takes place.

  8. so is he allowed to sell it with firb approval or not?? as i understand he cant sell an established house without approval…and approval is a formality

  9. This is a trash news story.
    Hockey is not even the vendor apparently. some reports say the vendor is his wife, a very smart woman.
    Any purchaser will have to meet the requirements for ownership of Australian real estate.
    A Chinese family from Beijing may have a child that is a student in Australia and entitled to buy a house. Our laws allow that. Hockey’s wife can market it to them.
    A Chinese in China may have already acquired permanent resident status and so be eligible to buy property in Australia.
    A Chinese in china may be a dual citizen working as an representative in China for an Australia company and be entitled to buy property in Australia.
    The advert is not illegal and if Hockey’s wife and the agent think it is worth the marginal cost of an advert in China that is up to them.
    In fact look at all the free press Hockey’s wife has got for his sale and MB has also contributed to this. Hockey has been given many thousands of exposure by the press as a result of a $500 advert in China. No wonder she is such a highly paid professional.

    • Jumping jack flash

      “This is a trash news story.”
      For sure.

      It’s not the legality that is the issue. Legal Chinese buyers abound. They’re propping up our entire country and economy built upon a towering pile of debt.

      It’s the hypocrisy that is so delicious.