Vicki Campion guest post. We need to wake up over port deals

If you have decided that our bed partners in politics are the story, then you should be interested in at least what country we are in bed with and what we are giving them in return for their share of the doona.

While pages have been dedicated to the newest relationships of MPs, most recently Anthony Albanese and Christian Porter, there is a relatively stark silence to an issue of foreign ownership of our national assets made more disturbing by its obscurity.

It began with a line in the May budget that made no sense to most, and where alarm bells did not ring until this week’s Senate estimates.

In 2014, the NSW Government privatised the Port of Newcastle and it is now half-owned by a Chinese corporation with direct links to the Chinese Communist Party. This corporation, which openly states it is guided by “Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” has control over the pricing of our coal exports through the port.

Seven years ago, we had Julia Gillard’s Asian Century, and we saw China’s burgeoning middle class as a river of gold for our trade, travel and education.

The jewel in the crown of the international coal trade is the Port of Newcastle, so dominant globally, coal is priced after it – but with this budget item, questions are asked if this would allow China to rob us of our debt-paying commodity and achieve its publicly stated objective of building a robotic container terminal at the port.

When Townsville-based Senator Susan McDonald asked if the conditions that allowed the port to be sold to China in 2014 would be allowed today she was told by bureaucrats that she was asking “hypothetical” questions.

“This acquisition predates those reforms,” she was told.

When asked if it was accepted that the China Merchants Group were key actors in the Belt and Road initiative they were told: “That’s not something we have an answer for right here.”

When pressed further, they were told: “We are getting into the territory of becoming quite specific.”

We cannot afford to allow our concerns about foreign ownership of national infrastructure to be obfuscated by suits under the glare of committee lights.

Estimates are to get into the grit – and if the Coalition’s own Senate team is concerned enough to dedicate lines of questioning in regards to the domination China will hold over our top commodity, the bureaucracy should answer, rather in one case, spending more than six minutes garbling to one question without providing a thread of transparency.

Yes, they agreed under Senator Matt Canavan’s questioning, there had been a consultation process into a review of national access.

No, the bureaucrats said, no submissions had been made public. A final report had not been written – yet, they had made changes in the May budget.

So was the consultation held in good faith? An emphatic yes.

We have a globally significant port that China now has a 50 per cent stake in, with an obscure budget line that poses to replace the port with a robot container terminal and most questions Senators addressed to the top of the bureaucracy were abandoned to be answered: “On notice”.

Through their vagueness they have lost – they drown in the wake of their power.

Sources say they will bring the changes in a giant omnibus bill next sitting where detail will be lost in the volume.

Australian politics a few years ago appeared naive about the wider ramifications of a totalitarian regime’s investment in our farms, land, ports and mines.

We sat back as Rio Tinto, our largest iron ore miner, went within a whisker of being sold to the Chinese State-Owned Enterprise, Chinalco.

Australia supplies China with about 60 per cent of their iron ore needs which they use, amongst many other things, to build their military.

Perhaps uncomfortable with that relationship, they are developing alternatives.

With the West slowly cottoning on, Chinas brutal communist regime has pivoted to paying off tin pot dictatorships.

Right now they are buying their way into new iron ore in the West African nation of Guinea to undercut Australia biggest export commodity through alleged forced labour and child workers.

China’s communist government has poured trillions into Africa through the belt and road program, loaning ludicrous money to impoverished counties knowing they can repossess key infrastructure when they inevitably miss their repayments.

Our worldview from 2014 must change. Democracy and a liberal rule-based system are in retreat. Our form of government in Australia is in the distinct minority.

If you treasure this system, and the freedoms it bought you, and you want your children to experience it to the extent you did then it must go beyond rhetoric to the substance of our strength, and our ownership of the largest coal exporting port in the world, is a vital part of this.

If the government wants to get under the doona with China, we should at least consider the divorce bill first.

This entry was posted in Guest Post, National Security. Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Vicki Campion guest post. We need to wake up over port deals

  1. Rebel with cause says:

    The Chinese can’t take any of these ports, farms or mines with them. Cut out the emotion and explain what the real issue with their ownership of these assets is?

  2. Texas Jack says:

    Ownership of strategic assets is a concern, but I’m more worried about green activism coming through in financial markets. Might be worth shining a light of the “price” of debt NAB’s Corporate & Institutional Bank recently extracted from the Port.

  3. tgs says:

    Rebel with cause says:
    June 5, 2021 at 7:26 am

    The Chinese can’t take any of these ports, farms or mines with them. Cut out the emotion and explain what the real issue with their ownership of these assets is?

    Spot on.

    If the Chinese want to overpay for an underperforming cash stream why not let them.

  4. Rebel with cause says:

    Every reader of this site should know that in the event of any future conflict with China, Australia’s biggest problem is likely to be our Commie sympathising trade unions. Read Hal Colebatch about the union resistance during WWII if you don’t believe this. And yet what has the Coalition done to ensure that every Australian child is informed of this truly dark part of Australia’s history as part of the National Curriculum? Absolutely zero.

  5. Rabbi Putin says:

    Too long, written by a woman.

  6. Cardimona says:

    Rabbi Putin says:
    June 5, 2021 at 7:51 am
    Too long, written by a woman.

    Translation: “A young lady is more intelligent than me and that hurts my feelings.”

  7. Cardimona says:

    Just to give you an idea how awesome this kid is;

    – she grew up in a very small regional town in a very full house (she’s eldest of five and her Mum was a Family Day Care Provider)
    – she shares the work on the remote farm she calls home
    – she wrangles two intensely active toddlers
    – she share-cares a 97-year-old
    – she writes the weekly News Corpse column
    – she works for Llew in sitting weeks
    – she manages Barnaby behind the scenes
    – she commutes to Canberra by road and does endless hours of driving on some terrible roads
    – she is continually updating her knowledge on an enormous range of subjects
    – she is a successful investor
    – she makes more sense than some Catallaxy commenters and reaches more readers than most Catallaxy commenters

    Hence the misogynist Rabbi Putin’s hurt feelings.

  8. Cardimona:

    In 2014, the NSW Government privatised the Port of Newcastle and it is now half-owned by a Chinese corporation with direct links to the Chinese Communist Party. This corporation, which openly states it is guided by “Xi Jinping thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” has control over the pricing of our coal exports through the port.

    I was utterly unaware of this – the China buying half the port bit – I was aware of the Melbourne and Darwin port fiasco.
    Just how much of Australia has been sold off to these vultures, and where has the money gone?
    And why is the bureaucracy allowed to hide the facts by saying “We’ll take the question on notice?” Just answer the bloody question, you arrogant bastards or get the sack.
    Oh and you can explain your wealthy lifestyle on the miserly salary we pay you.

  9. sfw says:

    I’ve been told (perhaps it’s wrong) that the Chinese owned farms use mainly Chinese workers on visas (maybe different now with wuflu) and that the workers aren’t employed under Australian rules and conditions but are a form of guest worker paid in yuan back in China and given only food and lodging here. The produce from the farms isn’t sold on the open market but exported directly back to China. In effect they are much the same as farms on the Chinese mainland just remotely located. If true how does this ownership help Australia? If most of the inputs are supplied from China and the cost of labour etc is paid an China and the produce is not sold but exported to China?

    Consider, if the Chinese bought a few mines, used Chinese labor (paid in China with yaun) to operate them and exported the coal directly to China through transport and port and shipping companies all Chinese owned businesses. Would this be good for Australia?

  10. sfw:

    Consider, if the Chinese bought a few mines, used Chinese labor (paid in China with yaun) to operate them and exported the coal directly to China through transport and port and shipping companies all Chinese owned businesses. Would this be good for Australia?

    Of course not, sfw.
    The question should be “Why have our negotiators not taken into account reciprocity in our contracts with other nations?”
    I suspect we know why, but it would be considered libelous to voice our suspicions.

  11. Cardimona says:

    Oh and you can explain your wealthy lifestyle on the miserly salary we pay you.

    +1 Winston – that should be part of their annual performance review.

  12. Cardimona says:

    Consider, if the Chinese bought a few mines, used Chinese labor (paid in China with yaun) to operate them and exported the coal directly to China through transport and port and shipping companies all Chinese owned businesses.

    Sounds like their OBOR plan, sfw.

    Would this be good for Australia?

    No – that’s a feature, not a bug.

  13. tgs says:

    The poet of Newcastle doesn’t control the price of coal that passes through it, that’s just fundamentally incorrect.

  14. tgs says:

    Port* lol

  15. Roger says:

    If the Chinese want to overpay for an underperforming cash stream why not let them.

    The Chinese aren’t stupid.

    Ask your self why.

  16. Dave of Reedy Creek, Qld says:

    To me, the Port of Darwin is even more vexing. What was Morrison and co. thinking giving China the long lease on one of our most strategic port. Australia has a huge northern coastline and to know we are now so vulnerable makes my hair stand on end.

  17. tgs says:

    The Chinese aren’t stupid.

    Ask your self why.

    Nah, don’t be coy.

    Explain the security threat or stfu.

    There’s no HUMINT that can be gained by ownership that can’t be gained much cheaper through other means.

    If the issue is operations then there are regulatory remedies. In a time of conflict it would just be seized.

    What’s the security issue?

  18. Rabbi Putin says:

    Just to give you an idea how awesome this kid is;

    – she grew up in a very small regional town in a very full house (she’s eldest of five and her Mum was a Family Day Care Provider)
    – she shares the work on the remote farm she calls home
    – she wrangles two intensely active toddlers
    – she share-cares a 97-year-old
    – she writes the weekly News Corpse column
    – she works for Llew in sitting weeks
    – she manages Barnaby behind the scenes
    – she commutes to Canberra by road and does endless hours of driving on some terrible roads
    – she is continually updating her knowledge on an enormous range of subjects
    – she is a successful investor
    – she makes more sense than some Catallaxy commenters and reaches more readers than most Catallaxy commenters

    Hence the misogynist Rabbi Putin’s hurt feelings.

    Haha. A rudimentary web search begs to differ. Rose to prominence care of a special relationship with one Barnaby Joyce. Also a home-wrecker. Or is there more than one Vikki Campion hovering around the Australian Right? Please clear the air Vikki. The CV doesn’t exactly scream meritocracy. Rather just the typical way women climb the greasy pole. (Double-entendre intended)

    https://aussiecelebs.com.au/vikki-campion-wiki-age-barnaby-joyce-husband-net-worth/

  19. miltonf says:

    Sure they can’t take these strategic assets (farms and ports) back to China, but they have day to day control. They determine who works there, who goes in and out, what goes in and out. They treat Australia with contempt with the connivance of our political class. They’ve made their true feelings about Australia very clear over the last few months.

  20. miltonf says:

    she is continually updating her knowledge on an enormous range of subjects

    Aren’t we all?

  21. Cardimona says:

    Rabbi Putin says:

    June 5, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Misogynist quotes left-wing wrongology.

    Waits for applause.

    Looks confused.

    #ThatGirlIsSmarterThanMeAndThatHurtsMyFeelings

  22. jupes says:

    China is our enemy. We may not be in a shooting war with them yet, but they have nothing but hostile intent toward us. Selling strategic assets to them is stupid beyond belief.

    Why would a government allow such a sale?

    No, the bureaucrats said, no submissions had been made public. A final report had not been written – yet, they had made changes in the May budget.

    Why are bureaucrats making decisions on this? Who put them in charge?

  23. Roger says:

    What’s the security issue?

    Control of strategic assets.

    Duh.

  24. Cynic of A says:

    Could a Senator demand, and expect to get, or the demandee be forced to provide, a detailed written reply to a question?
    Seems to me that the bureaucracy needs to be told who the boss is.
    I suppose it’s not their fault. They’ve had their arses kissed by elected MPs for many years.

  25. Woolfe says:

    Consider, if the Chinese bought a few mines, used Chinese labor (paid in China with yaun) to operate them

    Already happened.

    They own cape Preston and it’s port (well lease from Clive) near Karratha and Karara near Geraldton.

    Both have large Chinese workforce paid beer money in Aus the rest in China.

  26. tgs says:

    Control of strategic assets.

    Can’t provide a single example of how the threat would materialise. Quelle surprise.

  27. rickw says:

    Treason.

  28. rickw says:

    Can’t provide a single example of how the threat would materialise. Quelle surprise.

    Access to the content data of containers moving through the port.

    It allows an ongoing assessment of the logistical significance of the port with respect to military and commercial activity.

    Access to the ports IT infrastructure allows pre-embedding of robot software that could cripple the ports IT infrastructure and the hardware that does the physical container handling.

  29. tgs says:

    You need to read less poor science fiction.

    You don’t need ownership for a cyber vulnerability to be exploited, that’s stupid. Container data is not militarily significant, they know what’s in the containers cause they sent most of them lol. That port doesn’t handle military equipment, that’s a separate facility.

    Assessing the ‘logistical significance whatever that means could be done through OSINT let alone non-open source means available to PRC intelligence agencies, paying for ownership for that outcome would be retarded.

  30. miltonf says:

    There are a lot of glossy textbook ideologues here. Next we’ll get a lecture on the theory of comparative advantage. Sack cloth and Port wasn’t it?

  31. miltonf says:

    I’m looking forward to an Australian company being given day to day control over Tianjin Port. Ha ha.

  32. miltonf says:

    Seems to me that the bureaucracy needs to be told who the boss is.

    This is a huge challenge as Tony Abbott found out. Canbra is an insular parasitic place populated by 3rd and 4th generation indoctrinated pubes with bludge ‘degrees’. The only people in Canbra who know what work is are the tradies who make sure the toilets flush.

  33. Albatross says:

    tgs says:
    June 5, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Holy hell you’re stupid.

  34. miltonf says:

    and the cleaners

  35. Cardimona says:

    Why are bureaucrats making decisions on this? Who put them in charge?

    Didn’t Confucius say “Unused power creeps inexorably into the hands of another”?

  36. Boxcar says:

    If you treasure the Murray-Darling Basin, and the freedoms it bought you, and you want your children to experience it to the extent you did then it must go beyond rhetoric to the substance of our strength, and our ownership of one of the largest river systems in the world, is a vital part of this.

    Or is that Barnaby’s franchise??

  37. RobK says:

    https://www.talisonlithium.com/greenbushes-project
    GREENBUSHES
    HOME TO THE WORLD’S PREMIER LITHIUM MINERAL ASSET.
    Ownership is given here:

    About — Talison Lithium
    Search domain talisonlithium.comhttps://www.talisonlithium.com/about
    In late 2009 Talison Minerals was separated into a lithium focussed business (Talison Lithium) with the remaining industrial mineral assets owned by Global Advanced Metals Pty Ltd (tantalum miner). Talison Lithium Pty Ltd is owned by Tianqi Corporation (51%) and Albemarle Corporation (49%).

  38. RobK says:

    In a time of conflict it would just be seized.
    As a going concern no doubt.
    Foreign ownership isn’t a problem if it is a level playing field but they are hard to find.

  39. RobertS says:

    From Wiki:

    “SGSP (Australia) Assets Pty Ltd (SGSPAA), trading as Jemena, is an Australian company that owns, manages or operates energy infrastructure assets in the eastern states of Australia including Queensland and New South Wales, and gas pipelines and gas and electricity distribution networks in Victoria and the Northern Territory.[1] It is 60% owned by State Grid Corporation of China and 40% by Singapore Power.[2]”.

    We’re dumber than dumb.

  40. Texas Jack says:

    How many countries routinely permit strategic assets to be sold to CCP-aligned entities? Even if the purchase is designed as a partial commodity hedge I doubt it’s the first thing governments in Singapore or Manilla or Taipei are contemplating each shiny Monday. How strategic is the Port of Newcastle? The world’s largest bulk coal loader seems serious enough, and access for rail infrastructure and all those Novacastrians and the it is the ancestral home of the Knights! What’s the risk? Seems super low unless your imagination turns to visualising Chinese Marines jumping ship to play havoc? But, could a malicious ownership facilitate infrastructure plans that whither and reduce the long term value of the asset?

  41. miltonf says:

    “privatisation” what a fucking joke.

    We’re dumber than dumb.

    No our treacherous, incompetent political class and their pubic ‘service’ masters are. Too many lawyers and fArts graduates.

  42. RobK says:

    How strategic is the Port of Newcastle? The world’s largest bulk coal loader seems serious enough, and access for rail infrastructure and all those Novacastrians and the it is the ancestral home of the Knights! What’s the risk?
    It is conceivable that with a sufficient number of such assets they might exercise monopoly tendencies. It’s hard to imagine there isn’t self-interest at work.

  43. RobK says:

    It’s hard to imagine there isn’t the States self-interest at work.

  44. RobK says:

    The CCP may well act as the world’s main unlisted corporate body, given the chance.

  45. Cardimona says:

    Boxcar says:
    June 5, 2021 at 10:38 am
    If you treasure the Murray-Darling Basin, and the freedoms it bought you, and you want your children to experience it to the extent you did then it must go beyond rhetoric to the substance of our strength, and our ownership of one of the largest river systems in the world, is a vital part of this.

    Or is that Barnaby’s franchise??

    Boxcar – From my recollection that was: a) a similar example of bureaucrats making anti-Australian decisions; and b) before Vikki’s time.

  46. Bruce says:

    Our “rice-propelled cousins’ have been at this for some time.

    Example; the cattle industry.. The whole vertically integrated rock-show, from grazing and fattening properties, through transport companies, meat-works , port facilities and the shipping, have steadily been snapped up by Australian “cut-outs” operating on behalf of Chinese purchasers.

    There is something going on with a couple of second-tier “international” airports, as well. Regular Jumbo-loads of prime produce (likely from Chinese owned primary production establishments), flying out to Hong Kong (as near as anyone could tell). As the Kung Flu bit harder in China, all of this this started ramping up. Simultaneously similar operations and such operations involving Canada and the US were dialed back, more so in the US than Canada, which has a its own problems with similar Food resource “ownership”.

    But were these cargo flights were ever subject to full customs and immigration checks either arriving or departing?

    And that is just Queensland.

    Remember the “swine flu” caper that started in late 2019 (well, this latest bout did). A huge proportion of the Chinese domestic pig population got the chop, so to speak, not for the wet markets, but to be burned to stop the spread of the infection. Something linking the Chinese outbreak to PNG also happened, making Oz pork producers and the more astute bio-security folk VERY nervous. Note that that China has stepped in and then some, to replace the Japanese who had previously been seriously involved in “infrastructure” and agricultural projects in PNG. All of this ties in with the Chinese “corporate raiding’ of the Canadian pork industry.

    As they say in the classics: ALL must pay tribute to the “emperor”.

  47. Rayvic says:

    “Australian politics a few years ago appeared naive about the wider ramifications of a totalitarian regime’s investment in our farms, land, ports and mines.”

    Very much so, going on the casual mention in July 2013 briefing for ‘Privatisation of Port Newcastle’ ( https://www.slideshare.net/dr_martyn_taylor/privatisation-of-port-of-newcastle-australia): “Key regulatory clearances required by bidders may include foreign investment approvals and competition clearances. Foreign investment approvals are straightforward and rarely withheld, but are a necessary formality.”

  48. rickw says:

    You don’t need ownership for a cyber vulnerability to be exploited, that’s stupid. Container data is not militarily significant, they know what’s in the containers cause they sent most of them lol. That port doesn’t handle military equipment, that’s a separate facility.

    So the Chicom’s wouldn’t want to embed “extra” chips in the computer controlled equipment like they’ve been doing with their telecommunications equipment? Mkay….

  49. Rob MW says:

    No, the bureaucrats said, no submissions had been made public. A final report had not been written – yet, they had made changes in the May budget.

    Consequences matter ! I’m not sure that the bureaucrats have fully thought this through, particularly given if the intention is to avoiding potentially something more than a verbal conflict when a foreign government has titled ownership of real or fixed property in another sovereign country.

    The 3rd President of the United States – Thomas Jefferson (1801 – 1805) certainly thought the scenario through.

  50. Boambee John says:

    Winston

    Oh and you can explain your wealthy lifestyle on the miserly salary we pay you.

    The level of bureaucrats who answer questions at Estimates are NOT on miserly salaries.

    Which is to to say that their lifestyles and investments might not exceed their quite generous salaries.

  51. Ed Case says:

    Chinas brutal communist regime has pivoted to paying off tin pot dictatorships.

    Forget the faux nationalism, this screed is more NeoCon warmongering.
    I’m thinking, just thinking, at the moment, that sections of the National Party might be looking for justification to bolt the Coalition and put a Labor Government into power.

  52. Rex Anger says:

    Forget the faux nationalism, this screed is more NeoCon warmongering.
    I’m thinking, just thinking, at the moment, that sections of the National Party might be looking for justification to bolt the Coalition and put a Labor Government into power.

    Uh huh.

    You make more sense when banging on about the hidden terrors of crystalline salt and Doctors’ Buteyko Breathing, Grigory…

  53. Boambee John says:

    Oooops!

    Which is to to say that their lifestyles and investments might not exceed their quite generous salaries.

    Should read

    Which is NOT to say that their lifestyles and investments might not exceed their quite generous salaries.

  54. Ed Case says:

    Chinas brutal communist regime …

    Australia’s brutal LGBT+++ friendly regime has just appointed an Army General to supervise the Vaxxing of every Australian, yet Young Rexie is chasing his tail over some shit that maybe mighta happened years ago in some desolate wasteland he can’t find on a map.

  55. Rex Anger says:

    Australia’s brutal LGBT+++ friendly regime has just appointed an Army General to supervise the Vaxxing of every Australian, yet Young Rexie is chasing his tail over some shit that maybe mighta happened years ago in some desolate wasteland he can’t find on a map.

    Lolwut? You getting your socks mixed up again, Grigory?

  56. tgs:

    What’s the security issue?

    Probably the same one that Germany would have used to deny the Brits control of the Ruhr dam complex.
    I’m having a hard time believing I need to explain this.

  57. Cardimona:

    Didn’t Confucius say “Unused power creeps inexorably into the hands of another”?

    If he didn’t, he bloody well should have, so the brain dead could have it tattooed on their pointy little heads.

  58. Old Lefty says:

    In return for the sale of the port, the plebs of Newcastle got a perfectly good stretch of heavy rail ripped up to make way for a lig trail, and a bit of grass with a sandpit passed off as urban renewal. Oh, and by the way, a codicil, which the NSW government doubt tooth and nail to keep secret, which specified that the port of Newcastle would have to pay compensation to the privatised operators of Port Botany if the container tonnage through Newcastle exceeded an arbitrary set level.

    And this is the government that, for all its many and serious faults, stands head and shoulders over the dills in charge of most of the other states.

  59. Old Lefty says:

    Light rail, not rig trail.

    The inventor of autocorrect died today. May he rust in piss.

  60. FlyingPigs says:

    Another great article Vikki Campion.

    Thank you.

  61. FlyingPigs says:

    Re Privatisation of Australian Strategic Assets.

    1. It is historical fact that, initially, the UK financed the development of Australia.
    2. It is historical fact that around 1960 Australian Assets were predominately owned by ‘entities’ based in the UK, USA, Switzerland and various other countries.
    3. It is historical fact that various overseas entities have come and gone with Chinese entities being some of the newer owners of Australia’s Assets.
    4. It is historical fact that the Australian people did develop with public money, and the help of various overseas technical infrastructure providers, some quite elegant solutions for their well being.

    What is completely obvious is that over the last 30+(?) years those elegant solutions are being taken from the Common Weal.

    Baird flogged off Newcastle Port.
    Turnbull flogged off Murray-Darling Basin
    Kennet flogged off SEC Vic.

    What happens when Newcastle Port stops loading Coal because of environmental issues?

  62. John A says:

    FlyingPigs says: June 5, 2021, at 11:20 pm

    Kennet flogged off SEC Vic.

    Only because the SEC, Vicrail et. al. had already been hocked by the previous ALP government to fund their splurges, and because the theory says that governments never go bankrupt (yeah, right!).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.