Monday, November 18, 2019

George Brandis and Zhu Minshen's license to award LLB degrees: Brandis conduct in the matter of China's attempt to buy Ausgrid raises further questions about his dealings with Zhu Minshen, and the NSW LPAB's decision to grant Zhu and his Top Group that license.

by Ganesh Sahathevan

Hon George Brandis

In May 2018 Peter Hartcher and the SMH reported with regards the  the federal government's decision to veto the $10 billion sale of Ausgrid to a Chinese-dominated partnership in 2016:

 In the inner sanctum of the cabinet's national security committee, there were some terse exchanges. The then secretary of the Defence Department, Dennis Richardson, emphatically rejected any suggestion that it was his department’s responsibility to police the critical infrastructure list.
The Treasury hosts the body that has to consider foreign buy-ins of any scale or sensitivity, the Foreign Investment Review Board, but the Treasury doesn’t manage the list of critical infrastructure. “Well,” Scott Morrison asked at one point, “Who is responsible for managing the critical infrastructure list?” He looked around the table, according to multiple people present at the time. It was not a secret. In fact, the public website of the Attorney-General’s Department stated that it was responsible for managing the list.

After a silence, when the attorney-general George Brandis said nothing, the secretary of his department, Chris Moraitis, spoke up: “We are.”   

The above account of the conduct of George Brandis' ,who was then also in charge of ASIO is added to the issues raised by this writer in the article: 

Top Group's LLB: Did ASIO warn its minister George Brandis, did Brandis, the NSW LPAB and Law Council Australia ignore ASIO

It does look as if Brandis, who is currently High Commissioner to the UK, has treated matters of national security as if he were in court, where one can always rely on silence to justify the argument that a decision of the court is valid regardless of the facts because the particular issue had not been plead. 
Unfortunately, the real world and in particular national security cannot work that way. 
Brandis must provide answers, as do the NSW LPAB , its chairman Tom Bathurst, and all others involved in granting Zhu Minshen his history making license.

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