Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not ruled out a review of the 99-year lease to the controversial Darwin Harbor China-backed entity.
“If there is advice from the defense sector or our security agencies that change our view of the impact of any part of our critical infrastructure on national security,” Morrison. Told reporters.. “Currently, there are laws dealing with critical infrastructure.”
“As Prime Minister, I can expect to take that advice seriously and act accordingly.”
Morrison is in Darwin and has announced a significant $ 747 million upgrade to four military installations in northern Australia.
His comments are the same as those of Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday. “I think it’s a problem for (foreign minister) Marize Payne to consider these individual cases. If it doesn’t fit our national interest, she will obviously act.”
Questions were raised about the possibility of canceling the lease after the Foreign Minister terminated the Belt and Road Initiative Agreement signed by the Victoria State Government.
In 2015, Darwin Harbor was leased to the Chinese state-owned company Landbridge for $ 506 million by the heavily debted Northern Territory government.
Former US President Barack Obama Communicated his concerns Regarding direct transactions with then-Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, especially given the presence of US troops in the area.
In response, then treasurer Morrison expanded the duties of the Foreign Investment Review Board to ensure that all Australian asset sales to foreign companies were approved by the federal government.
In 2016, Landbridge billionaire owner Yechen boasted that the acquisition of Darwin Harbor would help expand Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The BRI is the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) $ 1 trillion Global Infrastructure Building Fund and is arguably the “jewel of the crown” of Beijing’s geopolitical ambitions.
However, it is a “Trojan horse” and has been accused of incurring large debts to developing countries.
Last week, Foreign Minister Payne exercised the powers given to her by diplomatic law to terminate the BRI agreement signed between Victoria and the National Development and Reform Commission.
Foreign Affairs Law opens the door for foreign ministers to intervene and potentially cancel other transactions signed with the CCP, including the Confucius Institute and sister city agreements.
However, Australian political leaders are keeping an eye out for Darwin Harbor leases for dismissals under the new law.
Still, one obstacle to canceling a lease is that the $ 506 million paid by Landbridge has long been gone, being used by the NT government to address its growing debt problems.
Independent Senator Rex Patrick said Sky news australia He was uncertain whether diplomatic law had the authority to terminate the lease.
“During the investigation of the diplomatic bill, Darwin Harbor was extensively taken out and did not appear to be within the scope proposed by the government,” he said.
“It’s unclear if the minister has the power to do anything to overturn that decision, but most Australians wouldn’t think it was a good decision.”
Morrison told reporters that the review of Darwin Harbor would take place within the scope of the 2018 amendment to the Security Act on Critical Infrastructure, which was introduced last year.
These powers empower finance personnel to retroactively revoke foreign investment decisions that are deemed contrary to Australia’s national interests.