Darwin port lease: Adressing the real issues

Defenders of the 99-year Darwin port lease continue to evade detailed criticisms actually being made. Fortunately, they will not easily be able to repeat this political and intellectual cowardice at the forthcoming Senate Inquiry.


Letter to The Sunday Territorian (and The Northern Territory News) 
Sunday, 13 December 2015
(published, in The Northern Territory News, Monday, 18 January 2016)

Sam Bateman (“Darwin port lease fallout highlights how we’re being caught in the China-US crossfire”, Sunday Territorian, December 13, p15) merely echoes continued evasions by the NT Government concerning major criticisms of the flawed lease of Darwin’s port.

Rather than Darwin media regurgitate these well-discredited responses to arguments not actually being made, how about addressing the deeper and largely unaddressed objections that have now inevitably resulted in a Senate Inquiry widely supported within both the federal government (however quietly) and the opposition parties and independents (openly).

Both into the lease itself, and into closing the loopholes in our national decision-making machinery through which such a long-term, and wide-ranging, mistake was deliberately slipped by myopic local politicians apparently unaware at best of their national responsibilities to all Australians, including generations yet unborn

Moreover, key criticisms do not involve a “China-US Crossfire”, or even China as a country per se, so cannot be “overstated”, “amateur-hour”, “xenophobic” or “patronising”.

The key, and institutionalised, strategic risk of a 99-year lease to Chinese commercial interests instead stems only from China’s current, but seemingly entrenched, authoritarian political system.

Particularly the consequence that this largely unaccountable regime, with ultimate control over every Chinese company, even now often seeks to destabilise the overall rules-based international order under which Australia thrives.

The inability to recognise the direct long-term effects of this on Australia’s sovereign freedom-of-action — independently of our longstanding and perhaps not perpetual US alliance — again highlights the extent of the naïveté behind such a flawed local political decision.


[Detailed ADA comment on the Darwin port lease may be found here.]


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