‘Playing politics’: MP’s spray over port’s Chinese ownership

LABOR federal MP Luke Gosling has accused the Morrison government of "playing politics" by targeting Victorian agreements with China while ignoring Darwin Port.

The member for Solomon also said the Prime Minister was ultimately responsible for ticking off on the 99-year lease of the port to Chinese company Landbridge, which has links to the CCP.

But the Commonwealth has claimed Darwin Port's $506 million lease is exempt from new foreign influence legislation, because it was sold to a company rather than a government.

Mr Gosling told the NT News control of the port should've never fallen under the influence of a foreign power.

"It was on Scott Morrison's watch as Treasurer that the control of the strategic port of Darwin shifted to a foreign entity," he said.

"No one could think it serves Australia to have our vital northern port in the control of a foreign country."

Mr Gosling also implied the decision to target deals between Victoria and China was made to hurt the state's Labor Premier Dan Andrews.

Luke Gosling OAM MP said the federal government had ignored the Darwin Port issue. Picture: Che Chorley
Luke Gosling OAM MP said the federal government had ignored the Darwin Port issue. Picture: Che Chorley

"(The Morrison) government has given itself the ability to torpedo deals between states and territories and foreign powers, but is using it to play politics, rather than in our national interest," he said.

A Morrison government spokesman referred the NT News to comments made on Nine Radio by foreign minister Marise Payne.

Federal government should pay if Port of Darwin lease is broken: NT minister : A Northern Territory minister says the federal government should pay for the Port of Darwin lease deal if they decide to scrap it over national security concerns. Consideration is being given to breaking the port’s lease to Chinese company Landbridge in the wake of Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s decision to axe Victoria’s involvement in the controversial Belt and Road deal. NT Infrastructure Minister Eva Lawler, however, pointed out it was a commercial deal and the federal government should make financial restitution in the case they break the lease. “I’m on the record as saying that that was a commercial deal, $500 million commercial deal so you know if the federal government is going to tear up that agreement that was a commercial agreement then they need to pay the Northern Territory government the commercial interest for that,” she said. The deal was struck in 2015 under the Country Liberal Party-Giles government but has since been backed by the current Labor government – which is presently $10 billion in debt. The lease to Landbridge has helped relieve some of the debt, having repaired the port’s condition which the NT government was told would cost $700 million.

"(The sale of Darwin Port) wouldn't necessarily fall under this legislation specifically, Jim," Ms Payne said.

"Largely because it was an agreement with the government and a Chinese company, not a state government or a government entity," she said.



Following the decision to nullify Victoria's agreements with the CCP government, independent senator Jacqui Lambie said Darwin Port's sale "should be torn up".

"It's about time we had a good look at that Port of Darwin because if anything goes on in the future … you can guarantee we are going to need to be operating from there," Ms Lambie said.






Originally published as 'Playing politics': MP's spray over port's Chinese ownership