LABOR is demanding Scott Morrison accept Australian Defence Force advice not to reverse Chinese control of Australia’s most northern sea port.
While calling for a briefing on the matter, Labor defence spokesman Brendan O’Connor this week warned the government not to act against ADF recommendations regarding Darwin Port.
“If the government acts unilaterally beyond Defence’s advice and intervenes on the Port of Darwin contract, the associated costs and fallout are in the prime minister’s lap,” he said.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese and his shadow foreign minister Penny Wong, who have both been active supporters of Team China, have also demanded briefings.
The Defence Department on Wednesday advised the National Security Committee of cabinet that it had no formal recommendation for government intervention.
The port was controversially handed to Chinese interests on a 99-year lease in 2015 by the then NT Country-Liberal government and without federal approval.
Legislation has since been passed by the Morrison government to prevent State and territory governments acting unilaterally on matters of national security.
Ms Wong incorrectly stated on Wednesday that the lease had been undertaken on Mr Morrison’s watch.
Defence’s decision not to act has raised the ire of concerned Australians.
Online commenter Peter Edwards from WA said the advice of so-called defence experts was naive.
“If Australia’s government and defence experts can’t see any security issues for Australia in the future with China’s lease, they are in the wrong job and have definitely not been watching China over the past decade,” he said.
Evonne Moore from SA has suggested the ADF was under the thumb of China.
“The Defence Department has outsourced its IT management to a Chinese company, I’ve been told,” she wrote.
“No wonder the department has no problems with the Chinese government running the port of Darwin.”PC