Letters: Port of Darwin not at risk from China (AFR Aug 30, 2020)

Sep 4, 2020

Laura Tingle in ‘‘Why the PM decided to pounce on deals with China’’ (August 29-30)continues the furphy about the lease of the Port of Darwin being some sort of security risk. No one has ever, that I can recall despite all the rumblings from the cloak and dagger brigade, identified quite what these risks might be.

Darwin Port as a commercial enterprise languished under South Australia, then the federal government and, despite all we tried to do, the self- governing Northern Territory.
The Port itself is a small corner of a vast harbour. A harbour on our frontline – I remind defence-minded readers and security-threat obsessives – that is without a naval base of any significance.
The most prized defence establishment contiguous to Darwin Harbour is the army officers mess at Larrakeyah Barracks. Views to die for. Best place in town for a gin &tonic. The admirals, though, prefer to dine at Otto in Wooloomoloo.
So what to do to attract shipping to a port described by Xavier Herbert as having as its principal exports empty bottles and full public servants. The bidding process was no secret and the Chinese, as a fast rising economic powerhouse, were seen as giving the port a good chance of emerging from Cinderella status. If the Chinese wanted to penetrate the non-existent secrets of Darwin Harbour they could easily do so without spending $600 million to buy the port. They could just fly in and drive round. I am waiting to hear of any specific security threat.

Paul Everingham
Hamilton, Qld



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