Chinese company Landbridge paid the NT Government $506 million for a 99-year lease of the Darwin Port. Picture: Tauri Minogue Photography
Chinese company Landbridge paid the NT Government $506 million for a 99-year lease of the Darwin Port. Picture: Tauri Minogue Photography

Australia should threaten China with taking back port: MP

PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has brushed off calls for Australia to threaten China with taking back Port of Darwin amid ongoing trade tensions.

Mr Morrison was asked today to respond to comments made by Coalition backbencher George Christensen on Sky News recently, who called on the government to push back after China banned Australian beef exports.

Mr Christensen said Australia should consider using the clause in the Port of Darwin lease contract with China which renders the deal null and void in the case of a national security emergency.

"If we don't get the beef and barley back pronto and stop talking about other industries, we can actually take some action of our own, then it is a trade war," he said.

 

In 2015, the NT Government made a deal to lease the Port of Darwin for 99 years to Chinese company Landbridge for $506 million.

The Prime Minister brushed off questions about Mr Christensen's comments during a press conference today and said Australia would respect China's laws.

"This is obviously a difficult time as we deal one particular set of trade issues related to anti-dumping as well as what is effectively the administration around beef exports to China," he said.

"Our agencies … work through all the normal channels and we've always been available to make it very clear Australia will always do the right thing when it comes to respecting other countries laws.

"The great thing about sovereignty is we always respect the sovereignty of other nations and we certainly expect the same in return.

"I think that's a pretty fair deal."

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he opposed the asset sale when it happened.

"We can't change what (the CLP) did in the past but we will always protect our public assets," he said.

"I will work through any issues with the Prime Minister. Not some bloke from Queensland who doesn't know us and doesn't speak for us.

"If the Feds have money to spend in the NT, I've got a list of job-creating projects I can work with the PM on."

Originally published as Australia should threaten China with taking back Darwin port: MP



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