The Barnett Government's secretive new deal with China will boost exploitation by foreign mining companies at a time when the resources boom is suffocating the rest of the Australian economy, the Greens said today.
Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said a number of provisions in the Memorandum of Understanding set off alarm bells, chiefly the demand for total confidentiality.
"The deal states that all information exchanged must be treated as confidential, whether designated as such or not. It sets secrecy as the default setting. The deal says information cannot be disclosed to a third party - a third party such as the Western Australian public."
Senator Ludlam said the deal was designed to be "entrenched for at least ten years" and potentially opened Western Australia up to an unprecedented level of exploitation.
"The deal will encourage Chinese companies to plunder mineral resources - and no doubt massive profits - from our State. Most disturbingly it specifically mentions uranium, as though we want to encourage a nuclear weapons state to expand their nuclear sector."
Greens WA MLC Robin Chapple said the deal raised serious questions around control of Western Australian mining operations, resources and infrastructure.
"The deal mentions ‘exchanges of views with respect to laws and regulations'. Will China exercise influence over our regulations to suit the interests of Chinese companies? Will the State Government bend environmental and industrial regulations to suit Chinese companies?
"The M.O.U states the WA Government will support and encourage Chinese companies to participate in the construction of railroad, port and other infrastructure, but does not say who will control that infrastructure when it is completed. These questions need to be answered," said Mr Chapple.
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