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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13418


Mr PALMER (Fairfax) (17:26): It was not long ago that Darwin was being bombed. Darwin has always been a critical component in the defence of Australia. Defence has a large presence in Darwin, as does our border force and Customs, which stand as the last sentries at the gate of our freedom and security. Darwin is more than just a city; it bears the marks of war and the defiance of a whole nation in times of adversity during World War II and against Cyclone Tracy.

Thousands of Australians have given their lives to preserve our alliance with the United States of America. The ANZUS Treaty requires continual consultation between the United States and Australia. Australia is part of the 'five eyes' and relies upon the support and access to intelligence to protect and defend Australia and the freedom we all enjoy under the law. The United States has shown a strong commitment to protect and defend Australia in times of war and in times of peace. The first obligation of the Australian government is to secure and protect the Australian people. President Obama had to bring the Prime Minister to account as to why the Australian government allowed the lease of the Port of Darwin to go to Chinese Communist government owned companies. Under the Gillard and Abbott governments we got a commitment from the United States to station forces in Darwin. If the Nazis had leased a port to the Allies in Normandy, it would have saved the Allies many lives and time building an artificial harbour.

For the last five years I have stood as the last Australian trying to stop the Chinese government owned companies gaining control of my company and the port of Cape Preston in Western Australia. The Barnett government has done all that it can to pressure us to hand our port to the Chinese government controlled companies. Imagine providing control of a multibillion dollar port to a foreign government, right where our country produces 50 per cent of our export income. Is that the right thing to do? The WA Premier thinks so. He has been bending over backwards to sell, give, lease or grant Chinese government control over the new port at Oakajee in Western Australia. In New South Wales, the Chinese Communist government already has taken control over Newcastle's port in the Hunter Valley, which is one of the main ports responsible for the nation's coal exports.

Why does the Communist government of China want to control so many of our ports? If they can quietly gain control of our ports, they can decide in what proportion we export our commodities and to whom. They can and will manipulate prices, including port charges. And being in a monopoly position, they can ensure our companies receive less and that our production is according to China's central planning for China's needs. This will choke our exports, reduce our prices, control our industries and compromise our sovereignty. Why does the Australian government allow Chinese state owned companies to take control of crucial assets of the Australian economy? A former Prime Minister, who shall remain nameless, said that Australia's relationship with China was based on fear and greed. It seems to me to be based on greed and stupidity. I cannot purchase Chinese ports—the Chinese government will not let me—so why does our government allow state-owned Chinese companies? They are not there just there to make a profit; they are there to pursue the policy and the long-term objectives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Two Chinese companies, both supported by the Chinese government, bid for control of the Woomera prohibited zone. When is our government going to wake up and defend Australian interests?

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer must take immediate action to stop all future acquisitions of ports and major strategic assets, to resume all Australian ports that have been transferred to Chinese state-owned companies and to pay compensation as required under our Constitution. The incompetence and negligence of advice that the government has received from the Public Service in this matter is beyond belief. The pen-pushers at Defence say that the Darwin port is not used by the Navy. That is just not true but, even if it were true, for the so-called Defence experts the question is not what the current use is but what use it could be put to and how that would threaten Darwin and the US and Australian bases there.

President Obama could not believe that our government allowed important strategic assets to be sold. Let us face it: the Northern Territory government is one of the most disorganised governments Australia has ever seen, propped up by contractors and lobbyists who are interested in work or advantage for themselves, with members of parliament who one day are Liberal and the next day are Independent and a Chief Minister who lost the leadership and who refused to go. The ultimate responsibility for the Northern Territory government must rest with the Commonwealth of Australia. It is time to intervene for the benefit of all Australians and, in particular, for the citizens of the Northern Territory.

I am calling on the Prime Minister to resume all Australian ports leased by or under the control of foreign powers, and to restore our obligations under the ANZUS treaty to consult with our US allies on these and many other important matters. There are a few times in history when Australians have been called upon to protect their freedom and to save their way of life; this is such a moment. The Chinese consul who defected in 2005 told the government and stated publicly that the Chinese government have over 1,000 spies in Australia who have been involved in kidnapping, surveillance and hacking Australian commerce. China has secured control of land surrounding ASIO's new headquarters here in Canberra. They have shipped over $700 million worth of iron ore concentrate from my company's mining leases in Western Australia and they have not paid for it. It seems to them that the China free trade agreement means that trade with Australia is free.

The extent of Chinese Communist government infiltration into Australia and its businesses is a concern for the President of the United States of America. The Prime Minister and the government must act, not to get platitudes but to get tangible results to stop the Chinese government from controlling our water, our power, our ports and our daily lives. The Chinese government will print as much money as it takes to get the job done.

In the final analysis, is freedom for sale? Is our sovereignty for sale? Is our democracy for sale? What sort of people would we be? How could we face the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have gone to war to protect our liberty if we sold our country?