Scott Morrison calls for urgent review of Chinese-owned Port of Darwin agreement – as national security experts warn controversial agreement is a ‘strategic proprietary goal’
- Scott Morrison has called for an urgent overhaul of Darwin Harbor
- The port is leased to the Chinese company Landbridge, which is owned by Ye Cheng
- The port of Darwin’s 99-year lease included a $ 506 million deal
Scott Morrison has called for an urgent review of the Chinese-owned Port of Darwin agreement, as national security experts warn that the deal is a “strategic proprietary goal.”
The Ministry of Defense will determine whether the Chinese company Landbridge should cease ownership of the Northern Territory port for reasons of national security.
The deal, signed six years ago and covering the 99-year lease of the port of Darwin, has been questioned by federal opposition and national security experts.
Pictured: The Royal Caribbean ship Legend of the Seas docked in Darwin Harbor
Defense Secretary Peter Dutton confirmed that his department would ‘come back with some advice’ after the probe was requested by the National Security Committee of Cabinet, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Landbridge is owned by Chinese billionaire Ye Cheng.
Last week, the prime minister suggested that his government take action if the ministry advised him to do so.
“If there is any advice I get from the Department of Defense or intelligence agencies that suggests there are national security risks there, you would expect the government to take action on that, and that would be correct,” Morrison said.
Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s defense program Michael Shoebridge said he questioned whether operating the port is in the company’s ‘commercial interest’ amid ‘the strategic environment they are in’.
“I think it is clear that if leasing the port of Darwin were considered today, the result would not be to lease it to a Chinese company for 99 years,” he said.
Scott Morrison has called for an urgent revision of the agreement with the Chinese-owned port of Darwin
“It seems like a strategic proprietary goal for one of the best parts of Darwin port to be in the hands of a Chinese operator.”
The $ 506 million deal with Landbridge was signed by the NT government in 2015.
It gives Landbridge full operational control of the port, as well as 80 percent ownership of the land and facilities at the East Arm yard.
Luke Gosling, Solomon’s federal Labor member – the electorate that includes Darwin – previously told Daily Mail Australia that the city’s port is a strategic asset that “should be under Australian control.”
“The coalition was asleep at the wheel – or worse – when it swung through this century-long lease for a short-term injection,” he told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday.
From the moment of sale, I have consistently challenged the decision to lease our nationally strategic port to a foreign entity.
“The $ 506 million was spent years ago and the lease has 94 years to go.”
The $ 506 million deal with Landbridge was signed by the NT government in 2015