Outspoken Senator Jacqui Lambie is demanding that the Port of Darwin lease to a Chinese company come under the microscope, after Victoria’s controversial Belt and Road deal was scrapped.
The Tasmanian has also accused Chinese officials of being “all bark and very little bite” after the embassy warned the axing of the agreement could “further damage” the relationship between Australia and its largest trading partner.
Senator Lambie welcomed the federal government‘s decision to scrap the controversial deal, saying the state government move had been “completely off its head”.
“Rolling over like a dog to China is never going to be in the best interest of this country,” Senator Lambie told Sky News.
“I think the Chinese were very sly in the way that they did that, but I am very surprised that the Victorian government fell into it.
“It should never happen. We have got to do what is in the national interest, not what is in a state interest.”
Senator Lambie said states and territories might be good at vaccine rollouts, but when it came to foreign policy and national security, “I’d suggest they take a step backwards and let the federal government do its job.”
She has also raised concerns about the 99-year lease on the Port of Darwin signed by the Chinese-owned Landbridge Group in 2015.
“That should be torn up,” Senator Lambie said.
“It’s about time we had a good look at that Port of Darwin because if anything goes on in the future … you can guarantee we are going to need to be operating from there.
“We have a couple of thousand marines up there, the US is sitting up there, it is in our national interest to do something about that.”
Liberal MP Dave Sharma said the Port of Darwin lease was different to the Belt and Road agreement but would fall under foreign investment review changes before the parliament.
“The changes we have made to the act will allow for deals such as that one to be reviewed once that legislation is fully passed,” Mr Sharma said.
“I think it needs some further scrutiny.”
Mr Sharma said the decision to tear up the Belt and Road agreement should not “generate any blow back”.
“Australia’s is entirely in our sovereign rights to do this,” he said.
Senator Lambie said she had rolled her eyes at China’s latest threat, adding they needed resources from Australia.
But she did urge producers to continue diversifying into other international markets because “lord only knows where this is going to end up”.