MP calls for port claw-back
A federal MP has called for the Chinese lease on Darwin Port to be scrapped, and for the site to be ‘nationalised’.
The Northern Territory Government sold the port to Chinese company Landbridge on a 99-year lease worth $500 million in 2015.
South Australian Labor MP Nick Champion wants the strategic northern access point to be placed in government hands.
“I think there was not enough consideration of the national interest in that particular privatisation of this port,” Mr Champion told the ABC.
Beijing has been steadily building up its military presence in the Indo-Pacific region, triggering concerns about the foreign ownership of Australia's northern-most port.
The Australian Government recently backed the United States’ alarm over reports China is establishing a new military base in a Cambodian port.
Mr Champion, deputy chair of Federal Parliament's Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, says the Commonwealth should buy Darwin Port back.
“It's a very important port because we have significant defence facilities in the Northern Territory and that's the part of the world I guess we have to pay a great deal of attention to,” he said.
“We should look pretty clearly at making sure that that port is in government hands, and it's for those reasons I think it should be nationalised.
“This should be an assertion of our national sovereignty, of our national interest and I think if it's put in those terms, then companies, and others, can make their own understandings about why we've done it.
“Given that we're entering into really the most uncertain strategic environment since the 1930s that we should be prudent, that we should be rational and the best way to be prudent and rational is to bring it into government hands.”