“Stooge of China” Robb gets his comeuppance

MB did its best to bring Andrew Robb some justice. Now his own government is doing it (having previously defended him of course):

Amid an uproar over Chinese payments to Labor senator Sam Dastyari, the Prime Minister outlined sweeping criminal penalties on “agents” who do the bidding of foreign states to undermine Australian policies.

…Under the proposed laws, those who act for foreign powers will be forced to reveal their status on a new register or face criminal charges for failing to be transparent, a measure that could capture lobbyists, former politicians and think tanks.

It will also be a crime to harm Australia’s security or influence government decisions by “covert, deceptive or undisclosed conduct” on behalf of a foreign state or actor, a significant expansion of existing laws against treason and espionage. The new offences to be introduced into the criminal code will carry penalties of 10 to 20 years in prison.

The new Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme would involve the introduction of a searchable register of those acting on behalf of foreign states, which could include those lobbying on behalf of foreign companies but not necessarily directly employed by those companies.

Senator Brandis said Mr Robb, who quickly took up a job with the Chinese owner of the Port of Darwin, Landbridge, after finishing up as trade minister, would be ­required to register under the transparency scheme.

Mr Robb fired back, saying the defence establishment was ­attempting to paint him “as a stooge of China”.

“I’ve got my own side seeking to trash my reputation in order to launch an initiative on a security matter,” he told The Australian.

“I’m being used and abused. I feel I deserve a bit more consideration, a phone call, a question to find out what the facts are.”

More from Domainfax today:

Though the $880,000 yearly payment from Landbridge to Mr Robb – beginning shortly after he left parliament in 2016 – was revealed by Fairfax Media and Four Corners in June, the full details in the letter to Mr Robb were only recently leaked by a source with concerns about the nature of the deal.

One government official described it as a “disgraceful” look for a former cabinet minister.

Billionaire Ye Cheng is the owner of Landbridge, which controversially acquired the 99-year lease for the Port of Darwin in 2015. He is also a member of the national Chinese People’s Consultative Committee, an advisory body that President Xi Jinping has directed to “uphold the CPC [Chinese Communist Party] leadership without wavering”.

Headed “Consultancy Agreement” and addressed to “Dear Andrew” the entire deal is detailed on a single page containing seven terms.

“The appointment of AR [Andrew Robb] will be confidential except as agreed in writing,” the letter states.

“Westside [a subsidiary of Landbridge] will engage AR as a consultant from 1 July 2016 and is subject to annual review with any resulting agreed amendments to be recorded in writing and to apply from date as is then agreed. This agreement may be terminated by either party (without cause) on thirty days’ written notice being provided to the other party.”

“In acting as a consultant, AR will (through Andrew Robb Pty Ltd) provide consulting, strategic and other services as agreed with LI [Landbridge]. The authorised persons for LI are Cheng Ye and (CEO) Mike Hughes.

During the consultancy, AR will be remunerated $800,000 per annum plus applicable [tax] and payable in equal monthly instalments.”

Mr Ye frames much of his business activity, including the acquisition of the Port of Darwin lease, in terms of advancing Beijing’s ambitious global trade and infrastructure policy “One Belt, One Road”. Mr Robb has also advocated for Australia to back the policy.

Former NSW judge Mr Whealy, who now chairs integrity NGO Transparency International, examined the key terms in the leaked letter for Fairfax Media.

“What I take from the letter is that the position of Andrew Robb does raise serious questions for a person formerly of high government position going into business with a company close to a foreign power.”

“It is just extraordinary that aren’t more questions haven’t been asked about this deal. The terms really oblige Mr Robb to do nothing and he gets nearly a million dollars a year for it.”

We know the facts. Robb’s behaviour was ridiculous. Recall from from The Guardian:

Robb’s consultancy was reportedly announced by the Landbridge Group on 2 September, two months after the 2 July election at which Robb retired as MP for Goldstein. Robb retired as trade minister in February 2016.

His appointment raises questions about whether his Landbridge role will contravene the statement of ministerial standards, which states ministers should not lobby or advocate with the government for 18 months after their political retirement. It also states they should not take personal advantage of information to which they had access in their ministerial role…

Labor’s Andrew Leigh said Robb would have been involved in discussions over the Darwin port lease at the time it came to cabinet.

“It’s imperative that Australians know that sensitive data acquired in the public interest isn’t being used in the private interest,” Leigh said.

“The information would have flowed freely. And the 99-year lease over the port of Darwin was an issue which engaged all ministers at the time.

“It’s clear that Andrew Robb would’ve been involved in those conversations and it’s clear Andrew Robb held sensitive information, as he should have, as a cabinet minister.

“I think that Australians today are concerned about Malcolm Turnbull’s ethical standards aren’t being met.”

Greens senator Lee Rhiannon said… “The prime minister … needs to reveal his plan for ensuring that Mr Robb does not advocate for the Landbridge Group on trade matters for another year,” she said. “Doing so would be a clear breach of the standards.

No matter which way you cut it, Andrew Robb did the wrong thing. Until February 2016 he was Australia’s trade minister having just negotiated the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement. He was a member of parliament until 2 July. And yet he took a job at China’s Landbridge Group – to lobby politicians and sell-off more Australian fixed assets – just two months later (while collecting a parliamentary pension).

Then there are the strategic implications, the AFR has more:

Former trade minister Andrew Robb, who has been criticised for taking a job with Darwin Port owners Landbridge, led a delegation of Australian government officials to Beijing to convince them of the benefits of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature strategic “One Belt One Road” policy last week.

…Landbridge’s Darwin Port interests and the One Belt One Road policy are intertwined.

Landbridge head Ye Cheng has previously said the company’s investment in the Northern Territory port helped serve the Chinese strategic and foreign policy goal, also known as the “Maritime Silk Road”, enthusiastically touted by Chinese leaders as a way to connect China with Europe via Central Asia via massive Chinese investment in new infrastructure projects

Sceptics say the policy it is an attempt by Beijing to create a strategic bloc to counter the influence of the United States.

Mr Xi has called for the Australian government’s Northern Development Strategy to be included in the initiative, which the Chinese government say is worth billions.

Mr Robb helped launch and is on the advisory board of the organisation that arranged last week’s China trip – the Australia China One Belt One Road Initiative – in May when he was still Trade Envoy, along with former Victorian Labor premier John Brumby.

This was a clear breach of the statement of ministerial standards, which describes that ministers should not lobby or advocate with the government for 18 months after their political retirement, nor take personal advantage of information to which they had access in their ministerial role.

Cop it sweet, mate. Even better, resign from Landbridge now.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)

Comments

    • Robb should do jailtime for treason

      But there are a list of others:
      – Bob Carr and his “China Friendship Network” paying him $1M per year
      – Julie Bishop and her Glorious Foundation getting money from the same man as Sino Sam
      – John Alexander in Bennelong has just got $80,000 from Sino Sam’s man too.

      • HadronCollisionMEMBER

        Carr was on Kuddles Kelly this morning saying the uni pays his salary and the operating costs of his think tank

        When pressed on the 1.8M start up funding from the Chinise fella at the centre of this fracas, he deflected saying But but but all the american companies fund think tanks

    • So the Liberals have no sanction for breaking the toothless “rules” of post parlimentary work within 18 months.
      Bring on the Robo Police used on welfare recipients to “encourage” them to contribute and get a job.

      Pensions should be removed when they have another job over 50 k per year dollar for dollar like government pensions.
      Paid back if they become foreign lobbyists.

      • Good idea to deny them the pension if they take up another job – especially if the job is to lobby.

  1. Rob is arguing that there has been no breach of trust. I don’t believe him but what he doesn’t get is that whether or not he used inside information is irrelevant. The more important point is that there is the potential to do so and the look of the deal destroys public faith in our parliament and politicians.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      Making a mistake on the visa application is very, very easy. In the visa application for my in-laws from China, the immigration department required the complete list of every employer they have worked for (they are over 60 and retired now). I’m sure some of their recollection from over 40 years ago would not be accurate.

      What they should do is to introduce jail term for immigration agents when there are fraud in the application.

      • Making a mistake on the visa application is very, very easy.

        Yep.

        Recently had to get together a bunch of information related to our number coming up in the green card lottery. They wanted to know everywhere myself and my wife have lived and the start/finish dates since we left home. That’s only about twenty years, and it was quite difficult (current place, at 3 years, is the longest either of us have spent at one address since we were 18, average time any any given address was 18 months, across three countries).

        The other thing we both struggled mightily to do was list every country we’ve visited, and the entry/exit dates, for the last fifteen (? might have just been ten) years.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        Yes we should have obligatory jail time, say five years, but we should terminate the whole concept of “immigration agents”. It should be a public service function. As a for profit business, systemic corruption is absolutely guaranteed. Border functions like immigration/emigration are an essential state function that should never be in the hands of private operators.

      • I was once found guilty of Immigration fraud.
        The problem arose from incorrect statements I made on a medical/health questionnaire. I was required to list any surgical procedure that I had undergone. I listed everything that I could remember, broken ankle, hernia …..but neglected to include having my tonsils removed as a toddler (I have no recollection of it so I’m guessing it happened at age 3 or maybe 4 ). Of course it was easily proven that I had lied on the application by omitting the Tonsillectomy, fortunately I was simply required to pay a fine and promise to desist from engaging in further deceptive behaviors.
        These sorts of detailed submissions are useless tools, only a fool would believe they achieve any objective apart from revenue generation.

  2. Another (ex) politician who not only needs to know the Constitution but also lessons in civic ethics. But here ‘Robb’ is a verb.

  3. St JacquesMEMBER

    From my very first post on MB a bit over 3 years ago, when I knew almost nothing about economics (thankyou MB and posters, Naked Capitalism, et al), my big theme has been the treachery of parliament, that circus led by sociopaths and that there is almost no possibility of meaningful change until the country is furiously angry. ANGER IS AN ENERGY: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq7JSic1DtM

  4. maclennanrMEMBER

    Outrageous behavior and worse than Sino Sams who should resign from parliament. Even if Rob has used never used this information (which is impossible since you can’t forget classified information), as a former government minister he must be both independent in fact and appearance. Fails ethics 101 and does it with impunity. What a [email protected]!* wit.

  5. Robb’s simply a symptom of the current cancer that is spread throughout Australian politics. He needs to have his parliamentary pension revoked at a minimum.

  6. AR’s unconscionable behavior is precisely why I find the whole dual Citizenship debate to be such a farce.
    Here we have an Aussie openly selling out his country and yet we slap the wrists of those that fell into this ludicrous Dual citizenship trap as if to suggest that the two problems are somehow related.
    AR’s behavior is and always was intentional, there is nothing accidental or obtuse about this process, he didn’t fall foul to some arcane rule or some recently changed foreign government law, lets just agree he sold us out, he sold all of us out!
    So what steps has MT taken to cancel AR’s parliamentary pension?
    What steps has MT taken in general to stop this treacherous behavior?
    Seems to me that there are plenty of opportunities to prosecute AR under our existing laws, we don’t need new laws what we need is a prime minister with the leadership skills to see (understand) why this prosecution of AR needs to happen. Its’ not a gery area, It’s not optional, it’s not Ify, it’s treason …the reward for treason hasn’t changed in a thousand years , no new laws are required, we just need a PM with the guts to use the laws our grandfathers created as specific reward for exactly AR’s behavior.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      And not just Robb.
      What is the history of the Glorious Julie Golden Shower fund , and who puts the money in?
      Then there is Bruce Billson who didn’t wait to leave parliament before starting work as a consultant.
      Slippery Sam, Bob Carr, etc etc
      Hang ’em high

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Think the two issues might be a tad linked . With all the brand new Australian ciitazens from China we are minting every year I’m sure that the CCP is drooling at the prospects of getting good numbers of them into Parliment in the next few years. After all why bother with old pensioned off has beens like Carr ,Brumby and Robb when you can get a fleet of Dastyaris sitting on the nice green and red benchs to do your bidding .

      • This is precisely why the law needs to deal harshly with anyone that even thinks to walk too close to the line wrt Parliamentarians having obvious allegiance to foreign powers. We need to forget the 18 month ban and extend said ban for at least 10 years.
        What none of you seem to understand is that the Australian government can neither give nor take away a foreign citizenship. Consequently I can file a mountain of paperwork disavowing any right to a foreign passport however it’s all simply irrelevant if the laws, of other countries do not recognize the process of disavowing citizenship.
        As far as I know any person born in China to Chinese parents is a Chinese citizen. FOREVER.
        Consequently the paperwork that they would file is nothing but a sham process and in no way changes their future claim on Chinese citizenship.
        IMHO the law needs to forget about their the ancestral origins of Aussie parliamentarians and instead judge them by their actions.
        By this measure AR has been weighed and found wanting. it’s time to make an example out of him.

      • What none of you seem to understand is that the Australian government can neither give nor take away a foreign citizenship. Consequently I can file a mountain of paperwork disavowing any right to a foreign passport however it’s all simply irrelevant if the laws, of other countries do not recognize the process of disavowing citizenship.

        Which is why the current brouhaha about whether or not the renunciation confirmation paperwork came back before or after the person was elected is so stupid.

      • Um, China and India do not allow dual citizenship. Apparently, Sino Sam is not a dual citizen of Iran and therefore can not possibly be destroying the lives of Aussies. Oh wait…we should actually allow dual citizens in parliament because British values are very much aligned with Aussie values.

  7. The dual citizenship versus Andrew Robb’s venality are not mutually exclusive.
    It is possible to be appalled by Robb’s actions and still think that possession of a single Australian citizenship is a reasonable first step for those who wish to put their hand up to stand for parliament.
    Would there be an additional layer of concern if Rob (or one of his ilk) received money from Chinese or other overseas interests and had dual citizenship holding a Chinese or other passport (if they allowed it)?

  8. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Hope the fugger chokes on a dim sum on his next sellout trip to China ……his reputation is now gone …anyone in a position of any note in Straya should
    studiously avoid him and the stench that now follows him around . Then lets see how long his Chinese masters will pay him for ?

  9. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I’ve got no issue with Mr Andrew now being the stooge of China. I welcome China as our new over-arching leader as they are the best property investors the world has ever seen. They know how to turn one person’s massive capital gains into even more masiver capital gains all without ever collecting a single rent payment. They are genius. And if you’ve never experienced a chinamen lady property baron at a relations party you’ve got one giant gap in your life experience of pleasure!

    • Oh Most Beautiful One, do tell us more of your spelunking tales of experience in giant gap coverage 😀

    • exactly, Reus, Chinamen are champion property investors, even Meriton’s Hi-Rise Harry knows this:

      “The problem with Australians is they are very slow. They ask their lawyer, they ask their financial adviser, they ask their family, they ask everybody. The Chinese don’t ask anybody, they come off the plane, buy their unit and go.”

  10. HadronCollisionMEMBER

    I love how Brandis was patting his shoulder via the radio waves
    “there there old soul, just coz you’re on a foreign agents register doesn’t mean you’re a naughty boy”

    rrrrrightio then

    I emailed by MPH Kevin Hogan about Robb and he agreed it was not a good look

    perhaps this is Brandis’ way of sending a message to other potential perpetrators of treason (and it is treason let’s be honest) not to do so

    Any to Robb’s protestations: Methinks Thou Doth Protest Too Much
    Smoke, Fire.

    He’s a venal slimy little piece of sh$t

    • And lets not forget Joel Fitzgibbons and his affair with a highly placed Chinese military lady, who had been having an affair with his father before moving onto Joel.

  11. “I’ve got my own side seeking to trash my reputation in order to launch an initiative on a security matter,” he told The Australian.

    It wasn’t his own crew who trashed Mr StoogeOfChina’s reputation. He did that all by himself. As a government minister he sold an Australian port (FFS!!) to a foreign power, and then immediately resigned and scooped up a payment of $800K. He now claims that that is all good, which just shows that he’s mental.

    He’s a traitor, and deserves the traitors fate.

      • Unfortunately, that’s his current fate. What he’s got now is not what he deserves. That will change in the future if we’re lucky or good.

        I wonder what Mr StoogeOfChina would say to the fact that at least one of his fellow citizens the victims of his treachery (ie me) and possibly quite a few more would cheerfully attend his public execution, and enthusiastically applaud while it happened?

      • The Traitors fate is;
        Half hung (Hung until unconcious, then brought down and revived.) Drawn (having his intestines ,drawn from his body and burnt while alive) his genitals cut off and stuffed into his mouth, then quartered (chopping him into 4 pieces. The body is then decapitated.
        And we are appaled at ISIS decapitating prisoners. They could learn a lot from western culture

      • blacktwin997MEMBER

        Poor old Robb, no doubt he’s going to have to bust out the depression card soon, simultaneously debasing the seriousness of the condition.

      • Plus pensions from his first three jobs at high levels?

        Just goes to show that many people (politicians) just cannot get enough money – greed!!

  12. What about Australian bankers doing the bidding of major US shareholders against the interests of the Australian public? What about local councils and state governments effectively doing the same in terms of financing projects and infrastructure sales? We probably need carve outs like the one for the Productivity Commission that precludes it looking at the uselessness of some tertiary educatin when students are sold HELP debt. Anyway, it’s at least a start so my sincere support to the PM. Thanks.

  13. Basically it should be illegal for anyone who has been a politician, a senior State or Federal public servant (including Ministerial staffers) or a senior member of a political party to be employed or engage in lobbying for foreign interests, whether they are privately owned or publicly owned.

    Andrew Robb is only one of many who should be prosecuted and lose their Parliamentary pension. The list includes Bob Hawke, Paul Keating, Alex Downer etc.

    There seem to be a number of “think tanks” that are fronts for foreign interests, both govt and public. These need to be closed down since their are fronts for ideas and interests that do not serve our interests. It seems to me that the massive push for privatisation of public assets really got going only after we allowed foreign banks to enter our system and these have been the recipients of most of the transaction fees associated with the privatisations. I think they have helped funds some of the “think tanks” and lobbied for privatisations, and look how many of ex-employees from them are now running Australia (think Turnballs as just one).

    It is great to see that AR’s traitorous actions are becoming common knowledge. Hopefully it will at least lead to nationalisation of the Port of Darwin and the termination of the China/Oz FTA, as a good start.

  14. 8.10pm and a quick check around the MSM headlines and it’s all citizenship saga yet a traitorous muthafckr like Andrew Robb can sleep easy because of some the MSM’s ADHA meds have worn off.