The Maritime Union of Australia has appeared at the Senate Inquiry into foreign ownership of public assets, focussing on the Port of Darwin.
Acting Northern Territory Branch Official Jason Murphy told the Senate Standing Committee on Economics that the MUA opposes all privatisation of port facilities.
Murphy said he had spent the last ten years working at East Arm Wharf and in that time has seen a number of Defence vessels come through the Port.
"The MUA is opposed to the privatisation of key public assets," Murphy said.
"The Port of Darwin is obviously an important strategic asset for a number of reasons, including trade, tourism and Defence.
"If the Port must be privatised, it shouldn’t be left to the NT Government alone to make such an important decision."
Murphy said the twoo-week turnaround for the NT Government to announce a winner for the tender was way too short to allow for adequate consultation with the local community.
Murphy compared the October 13 announcement to the TIO "firesale" earlier in the year, saying there was around a 95 per cent disapproval rating for the state-owned insurer to be privatised but the NT Government went ahead and sold it off anyway.
"Things like that should be taken to an election," Murphy said.
The NT Government's choice of Landbridge as the developer for the Port of Darwin operator has drawn commentary from no less than United States President Barak Obama, who raised the issue with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of October's APEC Summit in Manila.
There are concerns over Landbridge's perceived close ties with the Chinese Government.
Murphy said the choice of operator was not a matter for the union and that the MUA is in negotiation for an enterprise agreement with Landbridge.
"Even though the MUA opposes the lease, we are prepared to work with Landbridge in negotiating for a new EBA," he said.
Murphy questioned the Abbott/Turnbull Government's 15 per cent asset recycling scheme, saying it should be resolved on a case-by-case basis.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon agreed with the MUA, saying he doesn't like infrastructure assets being sold off either.
Murphy said the MUA's submission look at a number of port privatisations in Australia.
He said the union is concerned that prices are going to increase and jobs could be lost, such as has happened in Brisbane.
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