Sunday, August 25, 2019

Chinese influence in NSW :Tensions among MPs suggests division between haves and have nots

by Ganesh Sahathevan

The 2016 ACETCA annual gala dinner, attended by several Labor and Liberal MPs.

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Clive Hamilton who has become known as a . Chinese foreign influence expert,  "has called for Australian intelligence agencies to share more advice with politicians as some MPs voice concern they’re “completely lost” with how to deal with organisations and their donations."

The paper also reported:
Despite growing concerns of foreign interference in politics, several NSW MPs said they had never received a briefing from intelligence agencies on which organisations to look out for.
“I’ve never received a briefing from ASIO, we are completely lost,” one MP said.
“I’m walking around like a blind person going ‘I don’t know, is this a legitimate organisation’.”
Another said many politicians were nervous to attend community or fundraising events for organisations they hadn't been briefed about.
"No one knows what functions they should be saying yes or no to ... it's making a lot of people very nervous. Considering the environment, it's really risky to not be briefed," one MP said.

Against these concerns however are these statements which were reported in the same story:
In a 2018 submission to the Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Professor Hamilton named the Australia China Economic, Trade and Cultural Association (ACETCA) for it’s “close ties” to the Chinese government.
More than half a dozen NSW Liberal and Labor MPs have attended ACETCA events in recent years, with Liberal MP and Legislative Assembly speaker Jonathan O’Dea travelling with the association to China in June.
ACETCA has donated close to $40,000 to state political parties since 2013, with most of the cash ($29,000) given to the Liberal Party through events attended by premiers, treasurers and MPs.
Mr O’Dea travelled to Fuzhou on China’s southeastern coast for an ACETCA conference this year.
The speaker and former p arliamentary secretary for trade said while he paid for the international airfare, he received “assistance with travel, accommodation and some meals” from ACETCA on the trip, which he said he declared.
“I have for many years supported ACETCA activities and its objectives in promoting trade links between NSW/Australia and China as well as greater cultural and social understanding,” Mr O’Dea said in a statement.
ACETCA also donated close to $8000 to the Labor Party, including $1500 for an “election countdown dinner” for Ms McKay in May 2018.
A spokeswoman for Ms McKay said she would continue meeting with Chinese community groups “without fear or favour” given the cultural diversity of her electorate.
ACETCA donated towards two fundraising dinners for Liberal Member for Oatley Mark Coure, who is a ‘patron and honorary adviser’ to the organisation.
Mr Coure said he stood by his “staunch representation and advocacy” of multicultural groups in his diverse electorate.
Member for Drummoyne John Sidoti was also named twice in the donation disclosure logs to the Liberal Party.
A spokesman for Mr Sidoti said “donations are processed through the NSW Liberal Party and any inquiries about donations should be made to the NSW Liberal Party”.

Clearly there is some tension between party leaders who would have better access to the Chinese funds,and the rank and file (including lower levem MPs) whose access to that funding is determined by the leadership. 


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