A secret US State Department poll, which surveyed 1000 Australians on what risk the Darwin port lease to Chinese firm Landbridge poses to the country, found that almost half of Australians saw it as posing “a lot of risk” to national security, and another 46% said it held at least “some risk”.
That left only 11% of the country of the opinion that it held absolutely “no risk”.
In October, the Northern Territory government announced that Landbridge Group had been awarded a 99-year lease for the Darwin port — one of Australia’s acknowledged key strategic assets — in return for a one-off payment of $506 million.
So far, $100 million from the lease has been earmarked for a ship-lift facility, $50 million for power station upgrades, and a further $100 million has been announced to bring forward spending to boost the Territory economy.
The research entitled “Australians See Chinese Port Deal as a Security Threat”, obtained by The Australian, warns that Landbridge’s alleged ties to the People’s Liberation Army “raise concerns port access could facilitate intelligence collection on US and Australian military forces stationed nearby”, and that it’s findings would “likely force Australians to rethink their choices of when to put national security ahead of economic gain”.
Despite the report Australian authorities have continued to deny that deal poses a threat to the country, and Peter Jennings, head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute think tank, has said that even conducting the poll reveals America’s doubt about Australia’s strategic intentions.
The Australian has more.