It’s clear the awarding of a $2.3 billion contract to build Melbourne’s new High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) - awarded to CRRC Changchun, a Chinese Communist Party-controlled train manufacturer, raises many questions for Daniel Andrews and his Transport Infrastructure Minister, Jacinta Allan.
Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan must answer these tough questions on Labor’s Chinese train deal:
Why was this contract awarded to an overseas company, bypassing Alstom and Bombardier, firms with train manufacturing operations in Victoria?
What due diligence did Daniel Andrews undertake to ensure this Chinese Communist Party-controlled company met security and probity standards?
Why was a contract with 60 per cent local content better than a contract with a much greater share of local content built by local Victorian train building firms in Dandenong or Ballarat?
Why is the project now two years behind time?
What are the problems and what has caused the delays?
What security assessments will be undertaken now that the United States has blacklisted CRRC Changchun?
There are repeated reports of poor workmanship and serious problems with the trains that have landed in Australia.
The community deserves to see that proper assessments have been undertaken to ensure Victorian security is not compromised.
Reports that forced or slave labour has been obtained from Uighur workers by CRRC Changchun are very concerning.
Labor's Transport Infrastructure Minister, Jacinta Allan must today release the recent reports she says she has obtained from her department on this issue.
Worryingly, Minister Allan has today said on ABC radio that the advice obtained related only to the Victorian HCMT contract. It did not appear to deal with the broader issue of CRRC Changchun and its more general activities and whether they have benefitted from slave Uighur workers or not.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute recent report listed this railway group as benefitting from forced Uighur labour.
CRRC Changchun is a key Belt and Road Initiative participant. Andrews must come clean on what investigations he undertook into the security issues concerning BRI leverage on Victoria.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Transport Infrastructure, David Davis:
“Andrews needs to explain why Victoria is the only Australian state or territory to have signed the Belt and Road Initiative in defiance of Federal Government concerns.
“Daniel Andrews' Belt and Road Initiative with the Chinese Communist Party is a great deal for China but a terrible deal for Victoria.
“Why is Daniel Andrews so obsessed with doing the bidding of Chinese Communist owned companies like CRRC Changchun?”