Senate debates

Thursday, 6 December 2018


Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018; Second Reading

5:44 pm

Photo of Brian BurstonBrian Burston (NSW, United Australia Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to give a brief contribution on the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018. I rise to speak on issues of security in a broader context to the bill. What we are seeing in Western Australia in regard to the increasingly cosy relationship between the state's Labor government and China is deeply troubling. We have a situation where the WA government is seeking to take assets from an Australian company and give them to a foreign government, creating serious implications for Australian security. No other government in the world would give such strategic assets to a foreign power, yet it is happening in WA. In the interests of Australian security, it is very important that these matters are properly investigated.

We have instances of Western Australian MP and upper house whip Pierre Yang being forced to resign from organisations affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party and Premier Mark McGowan preparing to clear the way for China's biggest conglomerate, CITIC Limited, to undertake a major expansion, including controlling port facilities, in Cape Preston. The growing camaraderie between the WA government and Chinese enterprises seeking to take Australian property is concerning for all Australians. It's shocking that Labor's upper house whip, who controls how his party votes, has been shown to have these affiliations. I'm sure it's alarming to all Australians to learn that Mr Yang also served aboard a suspected China spy ship. Serious questions must be asked of why the WA Premier and his whip would visit Beijing to meet with the Chinese president and senior government officials. Was it for funds, for direction on how to acquire Australian assets or to firm up China's military position? It is disappointing that the WA government is favouring Chinese business interests over Australian ones.

The fact that Sino Iron is building an international-standard airstrip capable of landing commercial jumbo jets and military aircraft and now seeks control of all approaches by land to the port of Cape Preston is a national security concern. It defies belief that a Chinese state owned enterprise would be granted permission to build a major new airstrip under a cloak of secrecy when there is already an airstrip just 80 kilometres away, at Karratha, being used by BHP, Woodside and other mining companies. Together with the controversial Chinese lease of Darwin Port, Australia's vulnerability in the event of international conflict cannot be ignored. The government's role is to protect Australian people and put Australia first. The lives of people born in Australia and those who come here seeking freedom from oppression need to be protected.


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