Premier Daniel Andrews must cancel the Victorian Government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements with China.

The BRI is a foreign policy and economic strategy of the People’s Republic of China, designed to grow its power and influence across the globe.

On 8 October 2018, the Victorian Government and China’s National Development and Reform Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the BRI.

The MOU commits Victoria to work with Beijing on future projects for the benefit of both parties. While it’s loose on detail, the MOU references the importance of “cooperation” and “promoting the Silk Road spirit” in Victoria.

A second BRI infrastructure deal was signed by the Victorian Government in October 2019.  The agreement sets out a number of areas of co-operation, including attempts to get more Chinese companies involved in Victoria’s $107 billion infrastructure program.  The Premier said the agreement would give Victorian firms the “inside running” on infrastructure projects in China and in other countries.

At the time, and following concerted efforts by the Morrison Government to tackle foreign interference, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton made clear that signing up to the BRI was not in the national interest.  Premier Andrews has subsequently not sought to explain in any detail the advantages for Victoria in doing so.

As our nation grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic and its origins, it is now even more evident that the Belt and Road Initiative is not in our national interest.

As the Prime Minister has reiterated, our economic sovereignty has never been more important.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is the wrong road for Victoria.

I also strongly back Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s call for an independent inquiry into all aspects of the cause and spread of COVID-19 which started in Wuhan, China. A full, transparent and comprehensive independent inquiry is in the interests of all countries including China.

 

29 April 2020.