National Security & Foreign Interference

House of Representatives 17/02/2022

Mr KHALIL (Wills) (16:39): I have dedicated my entire career to foreign policy and the national security of Australia because, beyond partisanship, is our collective commitment to Australia’s national interest. So I find it remarkable that members of this coalition government, both the Prime Minister and the defence minister, have the gall to attack the Labor opposition on national security. They have been in power for nine long years. They are responsible for that collective commitment to our national security, yet they can only huff and puff their way through a desperate scare campaign. It was Labor in government who banned Chinese state owned company Huawei on national security grounds in 2012. It was Labor in government that did not ratify an extradition treaty with China that was signed by the Howard government.

The facts are that the coalition government are incompetent managers of our national security with undisclosed links to the Chinese Communist Party. In nine years of coalition government, trade minister Andrew Robb negotiated the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, got a job with Chinese owned Landbridge company—which now operates the port of Darwin—and the coalition government leased the port of Darwin to the same company! Tony Abbott invited President Xi to speak at parliament, backed President Xi’s so-called commitment to democracy, and elevated the relationship. The defence minister when he was home affairs minister met with Huang Xiangmo, a Chinese billionaire who was later barred entry into the country on national security grounds. The minister met with him about migration applications after a $10,000 donation was paid to ex-Liberal minister Santo Santoro.

The only MP charged under foreign interference laws was former Liberal candidate Di Sanh Duong, aka Sunny Duong, well-known to the member for Chisholm, who described him as ‘inspiring’. And, while the Prime Minister and the defence minister bluster about national security, in their own government the member for Chisholm has an astronomical number of publicly reported links to Chinese Communist Party United Front organisations—the Chinese Overseas Exchange Association, Australia Jiangmen General Commercial Association, World Trade United Foundation, United Chinese Commerce Association—and the member for Chisholm refuses to discuss and consistently denies these links. The member for Chisholm has a close relationship with Haha Liu, a Liberal Party donor who attended her inaugural speech and was assessed by ASIO as a national security risk. It was the member for Chisholm who secured access to the federal government for a company that was endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party and later implicated in a major organised crime probe into $1 million in suspected drug money. The member for Chisholm hosted in her home a man who later died suspiciously after telling ASIO he had been approached as part of a plot to insert a Chinese agent into the federal parliament!

The member for Chisholm’s links to the Chinese Communist Party were the subject of security warnings before her preselection for the 2019 election, as revealed by the Herald Sun, and the member for Chisholm’s connection to guests at a Liberal Party fundraiser in 2015 led to the party returning $300,000 in donations due to security concerns. This is the member for Chisholm whose connections led ASIO to advise then Prime Minister Turnbull to not attend one of her Chinese New Year functions; who, in a train-wreck interview with Andrew Bolt on Sky, on multiple occasions was unable to remember any of these connections with Chinese Communist Party linked organisations; and who repeatedly refused to describe Chinese activity in the South China Sea as illegal! She is a Liberal member of this Morrison-Joyce government.

The Morrison government bluster is a smokescreen for how compromised they actually are and for their incompetence, too. It is the incompetence of a Prime Minister who has amateur-hour diplomatic skills, who is not across his brief and who has repeatedly made the mistake of describing the relationship between China and Taiwan as ‘One country, two systems’. That was Hong Kong, Prime Minister! And, despite officials admitting he had made a mistake, he doubled down in the media and refused to backtrack. Here is the common thread, Speaker: the Prime Minister’s national security policy is driven by his short-term domestic political survival, not the national interest. They are compromised! They are incompetent! Unlike Liberal Senator Abetz’s abhorrent questioning of the loyalty of Chinese Australians, this debate is not about that community. This is about the government’s incompetence and the government lurching from one bungled position to another. They bluster and attack the opposition, all the while wilfully blind to the fact that bipartisanship on national security is a national asset. For Australia’s national interest, they have got to go!