Scott Morrison expected to tear up Victoria’s Belt and Road deal with China within weeks

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The Andrews government blindsided Canberra in 2018 with the announcement that it had signed a memorandum of understanding to take part in the $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, which is widely viewed as a global power play by Chinese Communist Party and a national security threat.

Mr Morrison introduced new laws last year giving the Federal Government power to tear up any state or local government deal with a foreign power if it is deemed “inconsistent with federal foreign affairs policy”.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, the PM said while he would not “pre-empt” that process – which gives states until March 10 to inform the Commonwealth of their deals with foreign governments – he had not seen any advantage from the arrangement.

“I haven’t seen the benefits of it,” Mr Morrison said. “If there are benefits, what are they and what was paid for them? I don’t have the answers to those questions at this point, but the assessment of those arrangements will continue.”

He added that federal policy would determine foreign relations. “That’s a very important principle,” he said. “There has to be consistency when national governments deal with other national governments.”

Mr Morrison had already indicated to Victoria that the deal was unlikely to stand. In November, the CCP cited the foreign relations laws in a list of official grievances making China “angry” with Australia.

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