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Katter says tear up Darwin Port lease to China now – he has the numbers to make it happen in parliament

Former LNP Trade Minister Andrew Robb profited enormously from the port deal

Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, MHR has warned the federal Government to tear up the Port of Darwin lease with its Chinese owners, arguing that a “review” will achieve nothing but waste time.

Mr Katter’s opposition to the Port of Darwin sale – a 99 year lease to Communist Chinese controlled Landbridge Corporation – has been tenacious over the last six years, concerned by the economic and security implications of the sale.

Minister for Northern Australia Josh Frydenberg, Trade Minister Andrew Robb with Landbridge Chief Ye Chang, supported the takeover of the Port of Darwin in 2015, adding to China’s ‘String of Pearls’. Robb picked up an estimated $2 million from the deal. Pic ABC

Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has joined the crescendo to kick out Landbridge which secured the long-term operational control of the commercial facility in 2015 as part of a $506 million deal with the Northern Territory government.

The lease was signed by former CLP chief minister Adam Giles, but Mr Rudd said key ministers within the federal Coalition government were also responsible for the outcome.

CLP Chief Minister Adam Giles signed the deal with China on behalf of the Northern Territory administration

“[It was] all approved, all let through, by Morrison when he was Treasurer [and] Frydenberg was then Minister for Northern Australia,” Mr Rudd said.

He added that former Trade Minister Andrew Robb also took on a lucrative consulting job with Landbridge after he left office.

“For all those political reasons, Dutton, Morrison, Frydenberg know that they are deeply exposed on this issue.

Katter warned Australia’s national security was being severely compromised while the CCP continues to acquire strategic assets across the north of the country, “right on our doorstep”.

He reminded the LNP government that the top half of the Australian continent was already encircled by China, stretching from Cockatoo Island near Derby in Western Australia to Keswick Island near Mackay in Central Queensland.

“Why do we need a review to see if it is good for Australia? Blind Freddie could see it’s not!,” Mr Katter said.

“Darwin is the only port between Cairns and Broome making up half of the entire Australian coastline and the sale should never have happened in the first place.

“You can’t get anything out of the Northern half of Australia except out of a foreign Check Point Charlie (Port of Darwin) which can charge you whatever he feels like charging you.

“Up to 300,000 head of live cattle go through Darwin, and for six years we have been in a situation where a foreign corporation can charge us whatever they feel like charging and decide what goes through the port because they own the port.

Fiery independent Far Northern federal Member Bob Katter wants to see the Communist Chinese Party kicked out of Darwin Port. He says he has the numbers in parliament to do it

“They can close the port to any competing development by Australians and by having control of that port, they control the whole economy of the north western quarter of Australia.

“It is not my aspiration as an Australian, to work in a country owned by foreign landlords where I’ll work as some sort of modern-day serf for whatever amount of money that they feel like paying me”, Mr Katter said.

“I’ve said this before, anyone that would give away their only ‘non-coal loading’ Panamax port in the northern half of the continent to a foreign power has committed treason.

“Don’t waste time with a review. Just tear it up now.”

Mr Katter said that he was confident he had the numbers in the Parliament to suspend standing orders and move for the Port of Darwin lease to be torn up.

“I’ve had a motion drafted and ready for the last few months. I’m confident that I have to numbers to get this up. So who’s going to move first?!”

Landbridge secured the long-term operational control of the commercial facility in 2015 as part of a $506 million deal with the Northern Territory government.

Former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says government Ministers Dutton, Frydenberg and PM Morrison are “deeply exposed” over the Chinese Communist Party’s covert control of Northern Australia. Pic ABC

The lease was signed by former Country Liberal Party chief minister Adam Giles, but Mr Rudd said key ministers within the federal Coalition government were also responsible for the outcome.

“[It was] all approved, all let through, by Morrison when he was Treasurer [and] Frydenberg was then Minister for Northern Australia,” Mr Rudd said.

He added that former minister Andrew Robb also took on an $800,000 per annum lucrative consulting job with Landbridge after he left office.

As part of the “confidential” consultancy deal, Mr Robb, the architect of the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, began consulting to Ye Cheng the day before the July 2 federal election in 2016.

It’s estimated that Mr Robb pocketed more than $2 million plus expenses from Landbridge. A company document revealed that Mr Robb’s consulting contract was so vague and ill-defined he would be paid even if he did nothing.

“For all those political reasons, Dutton, Morrison and Frydenberg know that they are deeply exposed on this issue.

“Hence, my prediction is that they will seek to scupper the lease and then there’ll be a huge financial liability on the part of the taxpayer.”

Mr Rudd said he was not privy to current intelligence briefings, but he was aware of concerns raised by the US after the deal was signed.

“My understanding from Washington, for example, is that the US administration at the time was absolutely ropeable by the dim-witted nature of this particular decision back in 2015.”

DFAT has previously said the Darwin Port lease was not within the scope of the Foreign Relations Act.

Mr Robb’s consultancy with the leaseholder of the Darwin Port, Landbridge, was trumpeted by the Chinese-government aligned company in 2016, but became intensely controversial when an investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Four Corners revealed his fee, and that he had joined the company straight after quitting parliament.

Mr Robb joins former foreign minister Bob Carr and former Victorian premier John Brumby in taking up lucrative roles with companies or, in Mr Carr’s case, a think tank, founded by businessmen with strong ties to the Chinese Communist Party.