Multimillion-dollar Chinese project in the NT at ‘serious risk’

 

THE federal government's new foreign policy could put a multimillion-dollar project in the NT at serious risk, says Australia China Business Council NT Branch president Daryl Guppy.

China will be blocked from exerting undue influence over Australia under sweeping new measures empowering the federal government to veto controversial agreements with foreign nations.

 

Australia China Business Council NT Branch president Daryl Guppy.
Australia China Business Council NT Branch president Daryl Guppy.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that every existing deal between states, universities or local councils and foreign governments will be reviewed and axed if found to be against Australia's ­national interests.

Commercial agreements like Chinese company Landbridge's 99-year lease of the Darwin Port from the NT government will not be covered by the policy.

However, Mr Guppy said other projects may be at risk like the $800 million gas pipeline linking Tennant Creek to Mt Isa by Jemena, a company majority-owned by the Chinese government.

During his trip to China in 2018, Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the company was also looking at building a second pipe to the East Coast.

"The PM's new policy threatens all of that," Mr Guppy said.

 

Chief Minister Michael Gunner leading a delegation to Shenzhen to promote the Northern Territory in 2018.
Chief Minister Michael Gunner leading a delegation to Shenzhen to promote the Northern Territory in 2018.

"It's a massive step in destroying the Australian China trade relationship. Post COVID, the NT is going to need investment capital to be able to recover from all this debt. While we still may get some Chinese investment, the premium that we pay will reflect the risk premium that's normally applied to minor African countries."

Chief Minister Gunner said he has no plans for the NT to be a part of China's Belt and Road Initiative or related projects.

"We can continue to deepen our investment and trade ties while also protecting the national interest, and we will," he said.

The NT News contacted Jemena for comment.

 

Originally published as Multimillion-dollar Chinese project in the NT at 'serious risk'