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Andrews must release secret advice on Chinese Government Belt and Road deal

Daniel Andrews has covered up crucial advice provided to him and the Department of Premier and Cabinet in the lead up to his signing the Belt and Road deal with the Chinese Government.

Documents obtained by the Liberal Nationals under Freedom of Information show a flurry of email activity between the Victorian Government and the federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade concerning the deal in the lead up to the 2018 state election.

The Andrews Labor Government refused to release (and subsequently redacted) most of the documents identified as relevant, claiming that to do so would prejudice relations between the State and the Commonwealth.

Alarmingly, the Andrews Labor Government will not even confirm whether proper security or risk assessments were undertaken.

While the Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) between the Victorian and Chinese Governments have been released, little else is known about the deal. Victorians are no wiser what this secretive deal means for Victorians or what risks Daniel Andrews was warned about prior to signing us up.

It is evident from the wording of the MOUs that Daniel Andrews has agreed to gives Chinese companies the “inside running” on Victorian infrastructure projects while Victorian businesses receive no such preference. With a number of Chinese companies in the running for multi-billion dollar Victorian infrastructure projects, Labor’s MOUs represent a threat to open and fair tendering.

Despite Daniel Andrews’ promises to the contrary, Chinese companies who have won current state government contracts have failed to meet the terms of their contracts. This is most apparent on the Andrews Government’s delayed and mismanaged West Gate Tunnel project, where a Chinese company failed to meet Labor’s promised local content requirements and used Chinese steel instead of locally sourced steel.

Comments attributable to the Leader of the Opposition, Michael O’Brien:

“What have Daniel Andrews and Labor got to hide when it comes to this deal with the Chinese Government?

“Victorians deserve to know what the security risks are and what Victoria has given away in Labor’s cosy deal with the Chinese Government.

“With the Chinese Government hitting Victorian farmers with a punitive 80 per cent barley tariff, we deserve a government that will put Victorian jobs first , not is disadvantaged in the deal and what are the cosy deals we have been signed up for.

“Andrews promised to be transparent and accountable when he was elected, but his actions on his shonky Belt and Road deal show he is far from that.”

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