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Real Estate & Business

11 June, 2021

Port Disgrace

It beggars belief that we have reached a stage in this country where not one, but two, of our critical ports have been handed over under lifetime leases to foreign entities.

I have previously referred to the need to take back the Port of Darwin, handed over to Chinese interests under a 99-year lease in 2015.

What is potentially even worse is the situation faced by the Port of Newcastle, the world’s biggest coal export port, sold off in a 50/50 deal to Hastings fund management, and wait for it, China Merchants Group, a state-owned corporation of the People’s Republic of China.

The Port of Newcastle 98-year deal was signed in 2014, so in both cases we have critical port infrastructure in foreign hands for another 90 years.

The Port of Newcastle has faced trouble from the moment it was handed over to new owners.

There have been massive hikes in charges to the coal-mining companies who are dependent on the port to export our coal around the world.

Glencore, an employer of many workers in our region, took the port’s new owners to court to battle the price hikes, and won.

But it appears those price hikes, are becoming an issue again.

So what we have is a foreign entity exercising undue influence over market conditions for one of our biggest exports!

You have to wonder if this is another tactic of the Chinese Communist Party to sabotage our key export industries.

We must face the facts on foreign investment and take the action necessary to preserve Australia’s interests.

This was made clear in the Pivot report from the Trade and Investment Growth Committee, which I chaired.

The report made the recommendation to Government that not only the Port of Darwin, ‘but any ports or strategic infrastructure’ be brought back under Australian ownership.

Column By George Christensen

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