Labor accuses Scott Morrison of ‘encouraging’ Darwin Port lease with nearly $20 million incentive payment

Documents released by Labor Show Scott Morrison has signed off on a federal agreement to pay almost $20 million to the Northern Territory government as part of an incentive program for privatization of the Darwin Port.

The agreement was reached six months after the NT Country Liberal government leased the facility to Chinese company Landbridge in 2015, under a 99-year deal worth $506 million.

Labor has used the documents to accuse the Prime Minister, who was treasurer at the time, of offering a financial “sweetener” to get the controversial deal done.

“Rather than dissuades the Territory government not to lease this port, Scott Morrison instead provided $19 million to the government in the event that they did go ahead,” Labor’s defense spokesman Brendan O’Connor said.

“Now, that is a mistake that should not have happened.

The Darwin port from an aerial view.
Defense analysts have been troubled by the decision to lease the port to a Chinese-owned company.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

The Prime Minister has maintained the port deal was the sole responsibility of the CLP government and that there was nothing he could have done to prevent it.

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