Via the ABC:
Tony Abbott’s re-election campaign held a fundraising event at a private golf club run by a fugitive Chinese casino tycoon with deep ties to the Communist Party.
A joint investigation by Four Corners, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald can reveal that Mr Abbott attended the fundraiser at the Twin Creeks Golf and Country Club in March last year.
The club is run by Jack Lam — who is wanted for bribery in the Philippines — and Tommy Jiang, who operates one of Australia’s largest pro-Beijing media organisations.
The Liberal Party’s federal wing has disclosed a $40,000 “other receipts” contribution from “Twin Creeks” to the party in the 2017/18 financial year.
A senior Liberal Party source said last night that the party was now reviewing the donations associated with Twin Creeks.
Mr Lam and Mr Jiang have close ties to the Communist Party and are involved in overseas influence organisations including the China Overseas Friendship Association.
Mr Lam and Mr Jiang have also been appointed to the Chinese Peoples’ Political Consultative Conference, a political organisation handpicked by the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Lam fled the Philippines in 2016 after authorities raided his casino and arrested more than 1,300 Chinese nationals working illegally. In October 2017, Philippines anti-corruption authorities announced they would charge him with allegedly paying a $1.3 million bribe to senior immigration officials.
Four Corners can also reveal that Mr Abbott was a special guest at another event at the Twin Creeks club hosted by Mr Lam and Mr Jiang two weeks earlier.
Mr Abbott’s attendance at the Twin Creeks events raises questions over what level of scrutiny politicians are undertaking when it comes to attending fundraisers.
In 2015 when Mr Abbott was prime minister he was warned by ASIO that businessmen with links to the Communist Party were seeking to influence Australian politicians.
Abbott attended fundraiser ‘as a guest’
In response to questions about his attendance at the March Twin Creeks event, a spokesman for Mr Abbott said Liberal Party events are “a matter for the organisational wing of the Party”.
“Mr Abbott attended as a guest and had no involvement with arrangements surrounding the event in question,” the spokesman said.
“Mr Abbott had no reason to believe there was any concern around the venue’s ownership.”
At the March event, Mr Abbott said he was “very grateful” to attendees for taking time off to “support the Warringah Liberal Party.”
“[The] second thing I want to say is how much I admire the achievements of modern China,” Mr Abbott said.
“I’ve got to say I am no friend of communism … but, you have got to hand it to the Chinese people, and the Chinese Government, they have engineered the greatest advancement in human wellbeing of all times.
“I look forward to many visits to Twin Creeks,” he added.
John Garnaut, a former senior China adviser to now ex-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, said the decision to hold the fundraiser with Mr Jiang was surprising.
“If I was a politician, I wouldn’t be taking money from somebody who is involved in a foreign propaganda outlet. There’s at least the risk of the perception of conflict of interest, of being tainted,” Mr Garnaut said.
China censoring media within Australia
The joint investigation has found that Mr Jiang’s Australian radio stations are censoring content and disciplining broadcasters in line with directives issued by the Chinese Communist Party.
In a recording obtained by Four Corners, Mr Jiang can be heard disciplining veteran Melbourne broadcaster Xiao Lu off air last July for allowing talkback callers to criticise Beijing.
“I will have trouble with my business partners in Melbourne and other partners too,” Mr Jiang was recorded saying.
“You will also be in trouble. It has gone too far.
“You can’t just let them verbally abuse China and the Chinese Communist Party on air. Furthermore, their language is too vicious.”
Jiang hosted both Liberal and Labor fundraisers
Mr Jiang resigned from his directorships of his Australian media companies in February and March, but it is unclear why.
The success of Mr Jiang’s media business is due in part to his long-standing collaboration with the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda arm, the state-owned international broadcaster, China Radio International.
Mr Jiang has previously said that he has organised fundraising for both the Liberal and Labor parties. In 2013, he hosted a fundraiser for Kevin Rudd that raised $260,000.
Ban on foreign donations
In January this year, foreign donations to political parties were banned after revelations surrounding billionaire Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo.
The Communist Party-aligned Sydney property developer donated millions to both parties after arriving in Australia in 2011.
Huang Xiangmo was recently banned from returning to Australia based on ASIO advice he posed a risk of foreign interference.
As we know, our Tony still hadn’t got the message this year. Previously via Domain:
Mr Abbott, fundraiser John Caputo and state MPs John Sidoti and Mark Coure, were all VIP guests at a Chinese New Year function attended by Beijing’s highest ranking United Front affiliates in Australia.
The United Front Work Department is a unique agency overseen by the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee and which leads the party’s United Front operations aimed at influencing overseas Chinese and Western elites, including politicians, to back Beijing’s aims.
When Mr Abbott was informed by The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald that associates of the United Front were at the event, he said: “If I knew [United Front groups were there], I wouldn’t have gone. The last thing I am is a patsy for the Chinese government.”
Then there was this, also at Domain:
Tony Abbott’s office helped a billionaire labelled an “agent of a foreign country” to donate to the Liberal Party, even though Mr Abbott had earlier been warned by ASIO about the donor’s links to the Chinese Communist Party.
In mid 2016, Mr Abbott’s office played a role in encouraging Australian-based Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo to give thousands of dollars to at least one Liberal candidate in the lead up to the election.
The previous year, while Mr Abbott was prime minister, he had received specific warnings from ASIO about Mr Huang’s opaque connections to the Chinese Communist Party and how this may be linked to his donation activity.
Time to give all the money back. Or resign. Or both. Or just let politics take its natural course, via Domain today:
Internal Liberal Party polling is “diabolically bad” for Tony Abbott in Warringah, according to senior Liberal sources, with the former prime minister facing a 12 per cent swing that could sweep him out of his blue-ribbon seat.