Darwin Port Lease

The Coalition award a Chinese company a 99 year lease on Darwin Port. A year later, Andrew Robb, the Trade Minister at the time of the deal, leaves the Government to assume an $880,000 a year job as a “Consultant” with the same Chinese company.  Mr Robb, the architect of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, began consulting to Ye Cheng the day before the 2016 Federal election. (https://www.smh.com.au/national/liberal-andrew-robb-took-880k-china-job-as-soon-as-he-left-parliament-20170602-gwje3e.html)

The arrangement, uncovered by a Fairfax Media-Four Corners investigation, involves monthly payments of $73,000 (including GST) to Mr Robb starting on July 1, 2016. 

Mr Ye is the owner of Landbridge who acquired the lease on the Port of Darwin. He is also a member of the national Chinese People’s Consultative Committee, an advisory body that President Xi Jinping has directed to “uphold the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] leadership without wavering”. Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing’s ambitious global trade and infrastructure project “One Belt, One Road”.

Mr Ye publicly announced that Mr Robb had been appointed as a “high-level economic consultant”. 

Why did we lease it to the Chinese? The simple reason why is “stupidity”, said Neil James, executive director of the Australia Defence Association (ADA). (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-12/why-did-northern-territory-sell-darwin-port-to-china-what-risk/10755720)

Can the lease be reversed? 

No, according to defence experts and academics (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-03-19/can-darwin-port-99-year-lease-china-be-reversed-andrew-robb-role/10912478).

Maybe, according to Sky news (https://www.skynews.com.au/details/_6157662178001)

But the government says NO – The federal government has rejected a Labor MP’s call to cancel a deal to lease the Darwin Port to a Chinese company so it can be returned to Australia’s control. (https://www.sbs.com.au/news/government-rejects-federal-mp-s-call-to-buy-back-darwin-port-from-chinese-leaseholder)

Liberal Party MP Andy Hastie wants to get it back – https://www.advanceaustralia.org.au/liberal_mp_take_back_the_port_of_darwin

The Americans were stunned by our decision. Richard Armitage, a former United States Deputy Secretary of State, said he was “stunned” that Australia blindsided the US on a decision to allow a Chinese company with alleged links to the People’s Liberation Army to lease the Port of Darwin. “I couldn’t believe the Australian defence ministry went along with this,” Mr Armitage told The Australian Financial Review in an interview. (https://www.afr.com/politics/us-stunned-by-port-of-darwin-sale-to-chinese-20151117-gl0omf). 

He’s not the only one stunned, I think all Australians were amazed at this dodgy deal.

Further reading:




The Darwin Port lease: setting the record straight (ASPI) – https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-darwin-port-lease-setting-the-record-straight/

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