Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Questions without Notice

Port of Darwin

2:43 pm

Photo of Marise PayneMarise Payne (NSW, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Conroy for the question. I can confirm, as Senator Conroy would know—and I do not know whether or not the briefing which was offered has been received, and Senator Conroy, you might nod either way, no, thank you very much—that there have been quite extensive discussions with the United States, in the first instance, with the Northern Territory government, who had a number of discussions with the United States rotational liaison office about the long-term lease of the commercial Port of Darwin. The Northern Territory government's plan to attract private sector investment in the commercial Port of Darwin itself was a public issue during the second half of 2014 and in 2015, which included both the consideration of the issue in the Northern Territory parliament and the passing of the legislation that underpinned the privatisation process. In terms of the formal aspects of the AUSMIN meeting itself, the timing of that period was that Defence and we learned of the government's awarding of the lease of the commercial Port of Darwin to Landbridge a few hours before the announcement by the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory on 13 October, bearing in mind that we were on the East Coast of the United States at the time. The lease of the commercial Port of Darwin was then discussed by the Secretary of the Department of Defence, Mr Richardson, and the US Deputy Secretary of Defense in a meeting in Washington, face to face, in a personal briefing on 15 October.


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