Australia Orders Inquiry Into Chinese Donations

Malcolm TurnbullMalcolm Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a major inquiry into the nation’s espionage and foreign interference laws, amid concerns about Chinese influence in Australian politics.

A Four Corners-Fairfax investigation has discovered Australia’s spy agency ASIO warned the Coalition and Labor about taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese Communist Party, ABC reported.

But the parties did not stop, with the Coalition then accepting $800,000 and Labor $200,000.

Attorney-General George Brandis said he was examining whether the espionage offences in the criminal code are adequate.

“The threat of political interference by foreign intelligence services is a problem of the highest order and it is getting worse,” Senator Brandis said in a statement.

“Earlier this year, the prime minister initiated a comprehensive review of Australia’s espionage and foreign interference laws, which he asked me to lead. I will be taking legislative reforms to Cabinet with a view to introducing legislation before the end of the year.”

Between them, the businessmen and associated entities have donated about $6.7 million to the major parties over a decade.

It was also revealed that Labor Senator Sam Dastyari personally contacted the Immigration Department twice to support one of the donors, Huang Xiangmo’s, application for Australian citizenship. ASIO has stalled the request.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said he is very concerned about the revelations on Four Corners.

“I absolutely abhor the idea that some other nation would have influence in our government, especially if is attached to a pecuniary benefit to any individual,” Joyce said.

Senator Dastyari said in a statement he had cut all ties with the Chinese businessman.

“After the events of last year, I spoke to Huang to tell him that I did not think it was appropriate that we have future contact,” he said.


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