Is Peter Dutton the Manchurian Candidate?

Maybe it’s the entire parliament, via the ABC:

Chinese Communist Party-aligned billionaire Huang Xiangmo paid tens of thousands of dollars to former Liberal minister Santo Santoro while mounting a back-room campaign to secure Australian citizenship.

In 2016 Mr Santoro arranged a one-on-one meeting for Mr Huang with then-immigration minister Peter Dutton.

Despite meeting inside the private suite of a Chinese restaurant in Sydney in 2016 — access to one of the most powerful ministers in the Turnbull government that few others could have obtained — Mr Huang ultimately failed in his citizenship bid after ASIO objected to his links to the Chinese Communist Party.

An investigation by Four Corners, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald can also reveal that in 2015, Mr Dutton gave approval for then-Labor MP Sam Dastyari to conduct a private citizenship ceremony for Mr Huang’s wife and two children.

Citizenship ceremonies are almost always held in public, and private “special purpose” conferrals are usually only granted for applicants who are ill or have urgent needs and are unable to attend a typical town hall ceremony.

The conferral allowed Mr Huang’s family to expedite their citizenship by weeks or even months and was granted by Mr Dutton after he was told by Mr Dastyari that the family urgently wanted to travel overseas. Mr Huang’s family now runs his business interests in Australia since he has been expelled from the country.

Recordings have separately emerged showing Mr Santoro — a former factional ally of Mr Dutton who is now a senior lobbyist — claiming Mr Dutton was one of his “best friends” and that, in return for payment of at least $20,000, Mr Santoro could provide clients access to staff within Mr Dutton’s office to help efforts to expedite migration applications.

Mr Santoro is recorded stating:

“There is nobody else anywhere who is better placed than me to help you through this particular part of the project. Nobody. … I can go to somebody in the minister’s office and say ‘can you have a close look at this?’.”

Citizenship conferral

In early 2015, months before Australia’s political parties were warned by ASIO that Mr Huang posed a risk of engaging in foreign interference on behalf of Beijing, Mr Dutton used his power as immigration minister to authorise Mr Dastyari to hold a private, expedited citizenship ceremony for Mr Huang’s wife and children.

The ceremony was held inside Mr Dastyari’s office in early 2015.

Two men in dark suits stand at podiums emblazoned with the Coat of Arms at a press conference

This allowed Mr Huang’s family to effectively skip the citizenship ceremony queue and obtain their Australian passports in early 2015.

Mr Dastyari, who resigned in 2017 over his own dealings with Mr Huang, said he had written to Mr Dutton asking him to grant the Huang family expedited citizenship.

“I thought there was a snowflake’s chance in hell that this was going to get approved and the pace and speed of which it got approved at the time surprised me, and in hindsight concerns me,” Mr Dastyari said.

In a statement to Four Corners, Mr Dutton said Mr Huang “has never made a donation to my campaign”.

“Mr Dastyari will need to answer questions around his request for a citizenship ceremony,” Mr Dutton said.

Pressed about the appropriateness of his own role assisting Mr Huang, Mr Dastyari said he had resigned from the parliament over his dealings with Mr Huang and it was “ludicrous” to suggest Mr Dutton had expedited the ceremony as a favour for a Labor senator.

Private lunch: The Minister and Mr Beijing

The following year, in 2016, Mr Huang’s own citizenship application was stalled by ASIO over concerns about his links to the Chinese Communist Party.

A big donor to political parties, universities and charities since his arrival in Australia in 2011, Huang headed a Chinese Communist Party lobbying and influence organisation in Sydney, called the ACPPRC.

Increasingly anxious about his stalled citizenship, Mr Huang turned to another political contact, Mr Santoro, a former minister in John Howard’s government turned lobbyist.

The joint investigation obtained a confidential recording of a meeting in which he boasted about his direct line to Mr Dutton. In the recording, Mr Santoro is heard saying “one of my best friends is Peter Dutton”.

Mr Santoro vouches for Mr Dutton’s integrity as “the most honest politician that I have ever come across”, but said he also “tries to be helpful” if there was “a capability or a critical mass of investments that comes into Australia”.

The confidential recording reveals Mr Santoro has claimed his lobbying service extends to helping people attempting to expedite immigration applications, and that he can access Mr Dutton’s office for a fee of at least $20,000.

In 2016, as Mr Huang became increasingly anxious about securing his own citizenship, he put Mr Santoro on a retainer.

In March that year, Mr Santoro arranged a lunch between Mr Huang, Mr Dutton and the minister’s senior staffer in a private room at Master Ken’s upmarket seafood restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown.

When questioned by Four Corners, The Age and SMH, Mr Santoro confirmed the lunch had taken place, but denied its intent was to provide Mr Huang direct access to Mr Dutton — the man most citizenship applicants could only dream of meeting to push their case.

Mr Santoro said his work for Mr Huang was limited to providing introductory services and denied offering to help Mr Huang obtain citizenship.

Asked why he was paid by Mr Huang for at least a year, Mr Santoro said: “That’s between myself and Mr Huang.”

“But generally speaking, it would have been just to, I suppose, assist him to understand Australian politics,” Mr Santoro said.

Mr Dutton declined to answer specific questions about his dealings with Mr Santoro, but said he had been “introduced to Mr Huang as a leader in the Sydney Chinese community and had lunch with him on that basis”.

“I have certainly never made representations on his behalf to the Department [of Immigration] or anyone else,” Mr Dutton said.

Mr Huang declined to answer specific questions, but through a spokesman said his dealings with Mr Santoro were limited to “advice regarding business” including “development of the volcano area in Sicily, Italy”.

Mr Huang’s attempt to get a passport failed and last November, on advice from ASIO that he posed a risk of foreign interference, he was banned from re-entering Australia.

Comments

  1. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Maybe it’s the entire parliament

    It is the entire parliament to all intents and purposes.  It will not change by alternating between ALP or LNP.  Both the Nationals and the Greens are completely in it too.

    It is time for a Royal Commission – with criminal investigation and punishment powers – to investigate

    Australia’s serving politicians

    –       Their compliance with S144 of the Constitution

    –       Their funding

    –       Their Entitlements

    –       Their post political career scope for influencing current politicians as lobbyists

    –       Their pay increase mechanisms

    –       Their scope for being compromised by foreign interests

    Australian politicians over a generation

    Australia’s regulatory processes and agencies

    –       Their outsourcing

    –       Their compliance testing

    –       Their internal processes

    –       Their capacity to be compromised from within the political domain

    –       The ability of politicians to shape regulatory process while avoiding overt awareness that they have done so

    Australia’s policies concerning

    –       Visa & Immigration

    –       Taxation & Reporting

    –       Education

    –       Private Health Insurance and Medical Care

    –       Land use

    It is time to scalp some politicians………

    • Who can we count on to call for an enquiry?

      There’s a unity ticket among the major parties on being thoroughly corrupted by a foreign power.

      Where we’ve had large scale corruption issues before – say in QLD prior to the Fitzgerald enquiry – there was one side of politics trying, and eventually succeeding, to keep the other side honest and accountable. Both sides here are tainted and it’s just a question of which one is worse.

      Can the bureaucrats save us?

    • Surely the solution is to get the AEC to adequately fund the political parties?

      I just do not see “timely disclosure” (of which billionaires funds the political parties) as a solution. I was surprised when Scummo brandished a lump of coal in parliament, and then shocked when I read that the Minerals Council paid him to do it.

      Bronwyn Bishop was a speaker in parliament and absolutely not neutral. What a joke the Westminster system is.

      What about poverty?

      Theresa May’s conservative government has announced plans to provide free sanitary pads and tampons to high-school girls in England

      George said the policy should set an example for other countries like Australia to follow.

      A right wing government in Britain is more left wing than Jacinda. David Cameron gave Britons an income tax free threshold and NZ still lacks an ITF threshold!

    • robert2013MEMBER

      Comprehensively reviewing and discrediting MPs would establish a superior power in the land, one that the MPs themselves would have to agree to establishing. One doubts that such a body could be any more credible than the MPs themselves. Furthermore, if corruption is that endemic in Australia then we are essentially very much like Brazil or Argentina already. The only real solution would be revolution, with a fair bit of slaughter to boot, and even then you’d need a leader of the calibre of LKY or Mandela to pull it off for the long term gain of the “Australian” people. So basically, we have to continue to muddle through with mediocrity. Getting rid of dual citizenship for all would be a good start though.

  2. Well said Gunna, and on top of that, hefty penalties and prosecution with charges of treason, and therefore, loss of all pensions, perks and other entitlements.These scum criminal politicians need to be absolutely held accountable for their treachery against the Australian public whom they are supposed to represent. I also agree, going back a generation, because that’s when the rot really edged up.

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I think it’s hilarious how the American spooks have done their work to wake the Aussie media up to China shenanigans. That’s proper influence.

  4. This again shows the true worth of ex pollies, the only employment opportunities after years in parliament is lobbying. Even all the ex ministers end up as lobbyists (yes, as ambassadors that is what they are).

    Have time for very, very few.

  5. I wonder what the chances are of an average punter in the street getting a private meeting with Dutton or any other gummint minister in a flash restaurant? The inescapable conclusion is that the only reason that happened was because Huang had lots of money and he was prepared to spread some around for access to the minister. Dutton was paid for a period of intimacy. Just like the ladies who work in the knocking shops in Canberra’s industrial suburbs.

    And as for that Santoro dog, working as an agent for a hostile power…what he deserves is pretty obvious.

    • Like Abbot, he need to resign for collusion with a foreign agent. What did he promise to get the dosh?? The security services would be shuddering in their boots. Both the major parties heavily involved.

  6. TailorTrashMEMBER

    private citazenship ceremonies.??……………just another mistake by Sino Sam ….( poor chap is prone to those ) ….perhaps visas issued to Mr Huangs wife and kids should be looked at
    ………..it they were a couple of hapless refos looking for the same economic advantages as these rich folk they would be carted off to Naru pronto …..
    This has a very bad smell about it ……and good on the ABC for digging it up ………(even if it could seem to some to have a whiff of perelection mud slinging about it )

  7. Incredible that a billionaire is denied citizenship but foreign “students” on $10/hour wages are given citizenship all the time!

  8. I wouldn’t get too carried away. I think Dutton acceded to a lunch because Huang was an important donor. Huang did not get citizenship out of it . Any punter can apply for a private citizenship ceremony if they need their citizenship in a hurry. However such ceremonies are usually conducted in a departmental office.

    • Let’s get carried away coz this guy, who was trying to get citizenship, bribed his way to a table with Mr Dutto (IE the bloke who can give citizenship) and they had a jolly old chat about citizenship.

      I mean, a billionaire property developer with links to the CCP isn’t a mate’s au pair or anything, but money changed hands and meetings were held.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      One has to ask the question…….what could be so urgent in the wife of a Chinese billionaire getting an Australian passport that it had to be conferred with such indecent haste ( and by Sino Sam ) ….surely she had a perfectly good Chinese one ?…..(worlds second biggest economy and growing world power and all that ) …….Strayan passport …pfffft!……. …chap could be forgiven for thinking the old man knew he was on the nose with the Strayan spooks and wanted to anchor the family ….hoping he could drag himself in on the chain ……..as no doubt he still hopes ………….he is only one who failed …..where many have been successful ……that CCP fifth colum is now firmly in place …. good thing is there are many ABC’s who will do the necessary if and when required ………they should be treasured .

  9. “+Is Peter Dutton the Manchurian Candidate?” well, er , no, since the guy didn’t get in!