Keating forced to register as Chinese “foreign agent”?

Deary me:

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating might have to register on the Turnbull government’s agents of foreign influence list because he sits on an advisory council for a Chinese government development bank, Fairfax Media understands.

Mr Keating has made strong public remarks that Australia should pursue a foreign policy that is more independent of the United States.

Sources have told Fairfax Media that a reading of the criteria of the government’s new transparency scheme requiring agents of foreign influence to register on a public list suggests someone in Mr Keating’s circumstances would have to seriously consider registering themselves.

The former prime minister sits on an advisory council to the China Development Bank, a state-owned bank that raises money for large infrastructure projects. Mr Keating declined to comment on Wednesday.

And from ASPI head Peter Jennings on why it is necessary:

Measures covered by the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill will create a range of offences dealing with espionage, sabotage and treason. The point here is that there has been no successful prosecution against individuals accused of such offences for decades.

The bill is trying to criminalise certain covert and deceptive activities of foreign actors that may not amount to full-on espionage but are still designed to undermine our democratic system.

This is important and necessary given the judgment of our intelligence agencies that we are at high risk. Clearly some very fine lines must be developed to establish what is legitimate lobbying activity, for example on the part of international companies just wanting to do business in Australia, and illegitimate activities on the part of individuals or foreign companies covertly trying to change government policy.

An example of that would be attempts to get political parties to shift their positions on the South China Sea: to say, for example, that China’s internationally illegal land reclamation does not concern Australia, when such activities run against our direct strategic interests.

Prepare for some serious egg to be thrown here, most of it on Labor. To wit:

EMBATTLED Labor Senator Sam Dastyari hounded senior defence officials with at least 115 questions representing China’s concerns about issues such as the South China Sea and Australia’s friendship with Japan over a three-year period.

Mr Dastyari’s repeated grilling of then Secretary of the Department of Defence Dennis Richardson and former DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese contradict his claims he simply misspoke when supporting a pro-China line on the South China Sea issue in a press conference alongside donor Huang Xiangmo.

Instead, it was a position he had articulated over and over, causing consternation in parliamentary estimates committee hearings.

Labor, has a big problem. Some of it is political. Some of it real. But it is most definitely threatening and blind open borders policies will not be able to solve it.


    • The biggest problem is trust, you have governments and big business around the world doing one thing but telling the people another. A good example is the US, it it continues in its attacks on China, such as the Islands issue, human rights, currency and their soft power assault. They drive their people as does our government to have a somewhat hostile overview of China and its government yet companies all over the western world are pumping China full of money such as Apple, Dell, etc. with all the manufacturing and services such as call centers been exported over there.

      This is a big part of what is allowing China to develop its military, political and monetary might. Then, you have ministers that have their dirty fingers in the money train of China, knowing that if the general public knew what was going on they wouldn’t last as minsters for too much longer, Sam been a good case in point, I doubt he will last as this is just too big.

      But Sam isn’t Austrian either and and do believe because of his religious background and the attacks on Muslim culture by everyday Australians their would be resentment deep down and so his care factor about Australia is certainly going to be less than the average Australian, making it a lot easier for him to sell us out.

      But why is it we keep hearing from our spy agencies that China is a growing threat yet ministers and big business keep doing business with them, its all at the expense of us on all levels, jobs, wages, culture change and military threat.

      Because at the end of the day, big business and ministers see that dollars are more important than you and I, its only when it falls apart that they would expect us to pick up arms and fight a war that they helped fund.

      I personally think Sam should face the death penalty, pity we don’t have one to set an example to all whom betray the western world. Sam and people like him would inevitably lead this country and its people to war and his actions certainly prove he hates and doesn’t protect Australians. At minimum he should be locked up for a very long time, but its a good example of the vested interests why he isn’t, because if there would laws in place they would be all accountable and they don’t want that.

      If war ever did come on whatever level, I believe its the responsibility of all western people to ensure that the sons and daughters of all minsters, owners of big business and other wealthy or politicly connected families should be forced into conscription first to fight the possible war that they helped fund.

      • Sam is inept, gullible, naive, greedy and should be sacked from Parliament
        I think in terms of sending a message, that does the job
        But, I think we’ve got bigger fish to fry (with better punishment)

    • Why do Keating and Howard get reported daily in the news?
      Why does Keating need a paid gig with a foreign organisation, when he is on a generous pension?
      Its a real problem when Ex Prime ministers are given staff, an office, and a large pension – and nothing to do for 20 years.
      Can’t they then agree to just go watch the cricket?

      • bc the people who still watch the news are old 80s/90s relics and they like to hear about stuff and people they remember.

        keating was a prick, the asshole tendencies of the people here just make him kind of endearing to us. never forget what he really was, mr. neoliberal.

  1. As much as I like the guy


  2. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Well,well ………old Placido Dimsumingo is getting his nice little Chinese earner too …

  3. Australians seem to be welcoming their Chinese overlords with open arms. In all seriousness, given the crap uni degrees, youth unemployment and status of China’s quarry and farm, is there any future for Australia. It seems to have done it’s dash.

  4. “The bill is trying to criminalise certain covert and deceptive activities of foreign actors that may not amount to full-on espionage but are still designed to undermine our democratic system.”

    Note that it is still acceptable for property developers and other lobbyists to undertake covert and deceptive activities designed to undermine our democratic system.

    • Relevant StakeholderMEMBER

      Oh yay, more whataboutism.

      Corrupt developers should be jailed… but they don’t control:
      i) a country a billion strong
      ii) a massive standing Army
      iii) a large proportion of the world’s manufacturing capacity

  5. While I have always admired Keating, but one who rides the Asian Dragon needs to occasionally reflect upon where it is taken them and look back at how far they have travelled. Paul’s justification for taking the dragon seat was spot on 30 years back. Now days parroting dated justifications blinds him to some not so great consequences. Ending up on a list with Sino-Sam may just be what PK needs as a prod. Robert the Hawke and his Chinese branch office in China might as well go on the list as well. Both of the ALP’s great neoliberals may come back to haunt Robot Bill in his electric dreams of office.

  6. “Agents of foreign influence”

    Is this real? Has the Government really created such an entity? Where does this place politicians who swear allegiance to the Crown yet can be kicked out of Parliament for not reneging UK citizenship rights. Does advocating opportunity for multinational corporations fit the bill.

    Labor is up to its eyeballs pro-China, has been for years, this is not news. Dastyari should be sacked, he’s a liar and a liability. That said, any official “list” is pathetically Orwellian.

      • The Horrible Scott Morrison MP

        As a Superstar Treasurer I have plenty of great ideas. Most revolve around supporting the property industry, but some do occasionally involve coming up with stupid policies to gain puerile political capital. We now have a list of agents of foreign influence, a list of agents of no influence, a list of agents of real estate, and a list of cheese d1cks. In fact, the last 2 are pretty much correlated.

  7. I wonder why the newspapers have not mentioned Bob Hawke and Alex Downer – both clearly advanced Chinese govt interests in Oz.

    I disagree with the legisation. It does not go far enough. Lobbying by former politicians, their staffers and former senior public servants should not be permitted at all.

    • @Jkambah
      Didn’t Gogh establish relations early 70’s before GG stepped in to save the day??
      LIB LAB Green whatever all full to pussy’s bow on this mess.

      • Billygoat

        Whitlam (aka Gough is greater than God) did establish diplomatic relations with China, but I think that was after Henry Kissinger visited China and Nixon agreed to go there in early 1972. The US was always going to re-establish diplomatic relations with mainland China, its just that it took them longer than us to agree to terms.

        Its possible that Gough lobbied on behalf of China after he left office. I know that his son Nick Whitlam had, and may still have, strong relations with China. I would never trust a Whitlam and consider Gough the worst PM in my lifetime, with John Howard coming a very close second.

  8. ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

    “The bill is trying to criminalise certain covert and deceptive activities of foreign actors that may not amount to full-on espionage but are still designed to undermine our democratic system.”

    Mmm,…so what about the authors of “Free Trade agreements”?,…they are designed to prevent/circumvent Democratically elected governments interference in “Free trade”.

    One could argue our Western multinational coporations/instutions that lobby and demand FTAs are working against Western Democratic Nation state interests.
    How has China, a Communist military dictatorship, with still over 600 million pesants, come to wield so much financial clout and influence in, not just our country, but the entire world?
    This Nation State (China) which has every right to pursue its own goals, has Nuclear weapons pointed at us and our Western alies and yet a massive percentage of their capabilities, both Militarily, industrialy, technologically and financially is largely thanks to the Treasonous sell out of Western Working and Middle class workers by these Western corporations!,…attempting to cut manafacturing costs and create new markets for themselves.
    The Technology transfer and access to Western markets is what has given China the Financial and Industrial capacity to today apply so much pressure on our Democratic Governments!

    How much power would China weild today without access to Western Markets?
    Markets built up, with over a Century of Democratic Parliamentary compromise, between the minority of individuals who hold most of the wealth of our country and the majority who do not.
    How does China negotiate such competing interests within its boarders, with its Labor force that is undermining the wages and conditions of every country in the Democratic West.

    You want someone worthy to blame for Chinese soft powers influence in Australia,…try looking past side show Sam, and paying a bit more attention to Western Coporate Power and the outcomes of their Lobbying activities over the past 30 years.

    • EM

      All true as you say, but we must have the cheapest products/services so that we can consume more and have a higher standard of living (at least in the short term). This is our right and the govnuts must deliver this to to us, or so they claim.

      The days of western govnuts showing leadership and leading communities through difficult choices for future betterment is long gone. Its all about instant gratification and graft, and leaving nothing to future generations.

      I admire anyone working to improve the political scene. The last time I attended an ALP meeting was in mid 1970s as a young man, and I saw the light in the early 1980s when I accepted that I had been wrong about them since I was a teenager. Unfortunately the other side of politics turned out to be no better so my voting intentions changed by around 2005. Good luck with trying to reform the ALP. I will just vote for some disrupters, and ON suits me for now.

  9. It should come as no surprise that Keating is selling out Australia; while Treasurer and PM, he sold out the workers the ALP supposedly represents. The casualisation of the Australian workforce, and everything that goes with it — insecure employment, declining real conditions in the workplace, dependence on various forms of consumer debt, the decline of union membership and union influence, etc — all took off in a big way during the Hawke-Keating era. It happened because an ALP bedazzled by the electoral success of Maggie “TINA” Thatcher and Ronald Reagan embraced neoliberal policies with far too much enthusiasm. Keating has been a strident critic of Oz’s “cultural cringe”, but he’s imported his share of market-tested crap ideas from the Mother Country and ‘Merica.

  10. Looking at this article I see advertisements for Air Chinas flights from Brisbane to Shenzen via Beijing.
    Unfortunate placement.