Xenophon backs probe into Darwin port sale

first_imgA motion co-sponsored by Nick Xenophon has demanded an urgent senate inquiry into controversial foreign investment deals in Australia, including the 99 year lease of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company.The terms of reference for the inquiry ask for a sweeping examination of the Foreign Investment Review Board and national interest issues. It will specifically look at the Port of Darwin deal, the blocking of the Kidman property sale and the proposed sale of electricity assets in NSW.“There’s a real sense of urgency with this inquiry, given concerns that our current foreign investment framework is full of loopholes (particularly in relation to state and territory assets) and a lack of clarity of the national interest test and how it applies. This inquiry will give a timely opportunity to deal with these issues,” said Senator Xenophon.“In particular, the Port of Darwin deal deserves special scrutiny, given concerns expressed by our key strategic think tank, the Australians Strategic Policy Institute.”Further details of the Darwin deal emerged this week, including that the Port of Darwin Corporation’s 2014 Annual Report refers to it as a “strategic defence port” and listed more than 100 visits by navy vessels in the 2013-14 financial year. It has also been confirmed that Defence Minister Marise Payne only heard about the planned sale hours before the Northern Territory government announced it publicly.“The details emerging around the Darwin deal show what a shambles the whole process has been. How on earth this deal got waived through without due process is beyond most Australians,” said Xenophon. The inquiry is due to report by early February. Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more