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December 29, 2021

Reporting today states that the Government has considered – but not acted upon - Defence’s review into the privatisation of the Port of Darwin under Scott Morrison’s watch.

The report states that Defence has not provided a formal recommendation for a national security intervention, and yet the Government is still considering the report.

Labor and security experts have been expressing deep concern over this foreign privatisation deal ever since Mr Morrison waved it through it as Treasurer in 2015.

We have consistently called on the Federal Government to conduct a thorough review.

Labor expects a full briefing on this review, including on whether Defence also sought the views of the visiting allies and partners who use this port.

The Government has made a show about commissioning a Defence review into the Port of Darwin which was privatised by the NT Country Liberal Party in 2015.

If the Government acts unilaterally beyond Defence’s advice and intervenes on the Port of Darwin contract, the associated costs and fallout are on the Prime Minister’s lap. The Port of Darwin was privatised on his watch.

The Port of Darwin is a critical strategic asset for Australia. Australians know this foreign privatisation deal should never have happened on Mr Morrison’s watch - that’s just common sense.

This is part of pattern of behaviour by a Liberal Party addicted to privatisation:

• Scott Morrison has wasted almost $170 million attempting to privatise visa processing – twice.
• Scott Morrison trying to privatise security on important national security assets, like the Harold E Holt Naval Communications Station in WA.
• Over half of front-line claims processing staff in the Department of Veterans Affairs are labour hire contractors, hampering support for Veterans during the Royal Commission.
• AusTender indicating the cost of for-profit security vetting providers has tripled, with no commensurate improvement in performance.

None of this would have happened if the Liberals were not addicted to privatisation that overrides national security concerns.