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Labor demands list of off limit assets

AAP logoAAP 13/08/2016 By Lisa Martin

The federal government is facing calls to set out a list of assets Australia won't sell to foreign companies for national security reasons.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has knocked back two bids from China's State Grid and Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure for a 99-year lease on 50.4 per cent of Ausgrid due to national security concerns.

Labor frontbencher Stephen Conroy said there would be a much more mature debate if Australia spelled out which areas were off limits in order to avoid the "knee jerk" reactions.

"You have the debate before an individual proposal comes along. That way no one is offended," he told Sky News, adding that other countries would know where they stood from the outset.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale told Sky News Australians were owed a much more comprehensive explanation and accused Mr Morrison of arrogance for not adequately detailing the factors that went into the decision.

"Let's hear about why it's a national security threat," he said.

Trade Minister Steve Ciobo declined to reveal the nature of the threat.

"I don't think it is something that should be in the public domain," he told ABC TV.

Former foreign minister Bob Carr last week accused the government of a major policy sacrifice "to the Witches' Sabbath of xenophobia and economic nationalism".

Senator Conroy hit back describing his former Labor colleague as a "paid propagandist" for the Chinese.

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