SENATOR PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA
BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
MEMBER FOR GORTON
Scott Morrison needs to explain why it has taken six years of warnings for his Government to finally ask the Department of Defence to review the 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin to foreign-owned company Landbridge.
Labor and security experts have been expressing deep concern over the deal ever since it was signed while Mr Morrison was Treasurer in 2015.
At the time, then Shadow Minister for Infrastructure Anthony Albanese described the deal by former Country Liberal Party Chief Minister Adam Giles as “a grave error of judgement”.
We have consistently called on the Federal Government to conduct a thorough review, including whether there are any security implications of this lease.
In December last year when the Parliament was debating laws that enabled the Foreign Minister to veto foreign deals by state and territory governments, the Morrison Government blocked Labor’s amendments that would have ensured the Port of Darwin deal could be reviewed.
Now that it is becoming a political problem, Mr Morrison is engaging in more of his usual political management – after failing to show leadership for six years.
Australia needs leaders who will act strategically in the national interest – not someone who’s only interested in political management.
The Port of Darwin is a critical strategic asset for Australia, which is why Labor has always stated our concern about it being under effective foreign ownership.
It is used not only by Australian Defence Force but also the defence forces of visiting allies and partners, so we would expect that Defence is also seeking their views as part of this review.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.