Senate erupts as Cormann backs Gladys Liu “double agent”

Via the ABC:

Labor is facing accusations it is using “dog whistle” politics in its attack on Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu, who is under sustained pressure amid allegations about her links to China

Federal Government Leader in the Senate, Mathias Cormann, told the Parliament Ms Liu had the Coalition’s “full support” to remain as an MP.

“Gladys Liu is the elected Member for Chisholm because a majority of Australians in Chisholm preferred her and the Liberal Party to the Labor alternative,” Senator Cormann said.

“Her Labor opponent was a member of a number of the same organisations that Labor is now using for its disgraceful, unsubstantiated smear and dog whistle.”

Senator Cormann, as the Coalition’s leader in the Upper House, represents Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the Senate.

It was in that capacity that the Senate on Tuesday compelled him to make a statement in the chamber on Wednesday morning.

Senators called on Senator Cormann to explain the Government’s response to allegations made against Ms Liu and offer an assurance she was a “fit and proper” person to remain in the Parliament.

Last week, the ABC revealed Chinese Government records indicating the Liberal backbencher was a member of two provincial chapters of the China Overseas Exchange Association between 2003 and 2015.

Having initially said she “cannot recall” being a member of either group, Ms Liu later confirmed she held an honorary role with Guangdong Overseas Exchange Association in 2011, but no longer had any association with the organisation.

The ABC also revealed ASIO had advised then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull not attend an event, based on the guest list, which Ms Liu had arranged in Melbourne.

Ms Liu has insisted Chinese associations list people as members without their knowledge.

Senator Cormann and Foreign Minister Marise Payne have repeatedly refused to use the term “fit and proper” but instead said they had “full confidence” in her remaining a MP.

“The Member for Chisholm is a strong advocate for her constituents and is a valued member of our team in this Parliament,” he said.

“She has the Government’s full support.”

Senator Cormann spoke for less than two minutes despite having up to 20 minutes to address the issue.

Labor’s Senate leader Penny Wong slammed Senator Cormann for a short speech that she said failed to address the Senate’s demand.

“Yet again we see the arrogance of this Government refusing to be accountable to this Parliament, refusing to respond to public allegations, refusing to put the national interest first,” Senator Wong said in an almost 16 minute response to Senator Cormann.

Coalition senators left the chamber as Senator Wong spoke, prompting outrage from Labor’s Upper House leader.

“As they leave the chamber, ladies and gentlemen, this shows what this Government thinks of the national interest,” Senator Wong said.

“Walk out. Because you don’t actually want to defend Australia’s national interest.

“What a shameful group of cowards they are. What a shameful group of cowards they are.”

Ministers Anne Ruston and Bridget McKenzie mounted further defences of Ms Liu and accused Labor of a broader smear of Chinese-Australians.

They said Ms Liu was a well respected member within her suburban Melbourne community.

Labor’s Kristina Keneally and Kimberley Kitching told the Senate about repeated allegations leveraged against Ms Liu, including her ability to raise money for the Liberal Party.

Senator Kitching said it was outrageous to suggest that security agencies or Labor was acting with racist intent.

One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts said Senator Cormann had failed to provide enough information about Ms Liu.

He said Australians want answers and Liberal claims the attacks on Ms Liu were racist were “annoying”.

ScoMo has jumped the shark. He should have done the right thing and sacked Liu straight away. He would probably would have won the by-election on the sustained high moral ground versus Labor. Now, not only is the ALP off the hook, his entire Government is sinking into a national security scandal that it cannot win.

The longer ScoMo holds on, the more voters he will alienate. Does he really think that his “quiet Australians” approve of this?

Worse, his “racism” defense is sucking the ethnic Chinese community into the scandal discomforting everyone. SocoMo made the same mistake that Labor did with its parental visa bribe at the election, assuming the Chinese community would endorse cheap parlour tricks.

This is fast becoming a disaster for the Government.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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  1. WaitingADecadeMEMBER

    I agree with all that, Houses and Holes, but I remain concerned that in the end the government will pay no political price for this, Gladys will remain in parliament, and Labor will lose the support of the majorty of Australia’s Chinese community. Unless ASIO or another relevant organisation actually steps in and forces the government to come to account, this thing is just going to blow over.

      • WaitingADecadeMEMBER

        Haha I hope you’re right. Do you have any thoughts on how it will proceed? What organisation or politcal party will force a proper enquiry?

        • By the sounds of things, there are a lot of people digging up a lot of dirt on Gladys with more to come but there will be no enquiry. Gladys will front the media any day now and announce her resignation via a pre-prepared statement with no questions.

          • Yep – ” greatest honour of my life to be elected by the people of Chisolm; for the good of Australia, I don’t want to be a distraction to the government; I hope the voters of Chisolm don’t reward the ALP’s despicable behaviour” etc…

          • WaitingADecadeMEMBER

            Definitely could go that way Hixtar and Jason – with that kind of retirement speech – I really hope it does. But surely Scummo will keep her on to keep the majority.

      • The pessimist in me has to agree with WaitingADecade, I’m not sure if this will go far enough unless other big players like the Australian people push it further.

      • It will probably blow over. A nice little war with Iran will be a good distraction, or maybe some more boat people will arrive.

        In any case 17% of Gladys’ electorate is Chinese, and ScoMo now has their vote in case of any by-election. If you don’t believe me, take a visit to Box Hill.

  2. Goodness me…I know they the LNP are trying to protect their majority, but this is very dishonest and low-grade politics. I want to expect better than this.

    The LNP are increasingly ignoring what people are saying, and are increasingly resisting accountability – this is quite a concern. They say what they think is needed to make things go away, then duck and weave perfectly reasonable queries; they walk out; they bring race into it, when it’s about lying, compromise, confidence, and CCP interference; they play games with our democracy for their own gain; they conflate their party’s interest with the national interest (which is early-stage Fascism, and all the more concerning with their now-characteristic shirking of accountability like oily ducks, hoping that it will all go away…).

    A democratic government that repeatedly resists and quells dissent is not a democratic government – they are aspiring Fascists.

    My 2c

    • Never fear, a full third of the voting population will “vote 1” LNP blue team at every opportunity no matter what the slimy weasels do… FFS

    • 12 early warning signs of a fascist government / organisation….

      1. Powerful and continuing nationalism
      2. Disdain for human rights
      3. Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
      4. Rampant sexism
      5. Controlled mass media
      6. Obsession with national security
      7. Religion and government intertwined
      8. Corporate power protected
      9. Labor power suppressed
      10. Disdain for intellectual and the arts
      11. Obsession with crime and punishment
      12. Rampant cronyism and corruption

      of them only #10 has me struggling for an example of at least an attempt to enact it as policy….

      • Does not that describe all of the parties? Maybe Labor are a bit softer on some of your points but generally they are all the same.

        • Possibly, but still doesn’t discount the idea that we are heading into a state of fascist acceptance. People are so busy hating people of “otherness” that they cant see what they are accepting as a consequence….

        • Does not that describe all of the parties? Maybe Labor are a bit softer on some of your points but generally they are all the same.

          No they’re not.

          I’m not going to sing Labor any praises, and there’s plenty of things there they could be doing better, but the only ones they’re even close to the Coaliation on are #2 and #12.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        Actually to be truthful the problem is that there is not enough nationalism. There is really no one standing up and talking up what is good for Australia, it is a degeneration to the selfishness and stuff what is good for Australia that is leading us down the mine.

        • I think you misunderstand the idea behind nationalism from a fascist perspective. Fascists dont care about nationalism itself, they only stir up nationalism as a means to divide.

          Fascists dont want your kind of nationalism as that unites the people, they want the US vs Them kind as it divides, a divided population is a weak minded population.

          Your country can help people from other countries and you can be proud of that because it shows moral character and as a result is good for the country. A rising tide lifts all ships kind of thing…..

          Your country can withdraw all support for other countries under the guise of ‘our nation first’ and as a result drive the country into isolationism and lose all moral fibre. Not good for the countries interests long term. You only have to look at how the Pacific island states are all clamouring to China for help to see how our treatment of them has backfired.

          Fascists dont care for fundamentals of either option as a preference, they care for what leverage and control they gain over the population from creating division and as a result favour the latter.

          Almost all of the 12 items on the list above are about creating and taking advantage of divisions in the community in order to control the masses. e.g. you cant vote for the ALP because they will take away your franking credits…..and they want to increase immigration etc.

        • There is really no one standing up and talking up what is good for Australia, it is a degeneration to the selfishness and stuff what is good for Australia that is leading us down the mine.

          There are plenty of people talking about what’s good for Australia.

          You ignore them (or denigrate them) because they’re not talking about what you think is good for Australia.

      • #10 – all arts funding forwarded to oligarch land rentier’s and their defunct buildings. Rented via friends and senators (the arts scene). There is only enough money after paying rent for these arts buildings, to hold minimal performing arts / lighting installation / modern art – anti art galleries.

        working class venues – all but replaced with pokies / dogboxes.

  3. Lets, see. Perhaps after a visit to the white house ScoMo might be forced to start back peddling out of this.

    • In theory it should be an uncomfortable visit but in reality, who knows.

      Get Steve Bannon on the case!

  4. With Kristina Kenneally making appearances, I am almost prepared to accept Chinese agents of influence in our parliament and side with the CCP.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      Yes, I would have hoped that Hastie was camped outside her office in the parliament running the intimidation game until she ran away scared. Some soldier for Australia he is, more like a pollie now, towing the line after getting a look at the focus group feedback from the PMs chief of staff.

    • Yes, that’s right. The LNP’s constitution explicitly states that, if you’re affiliated with the CCP in any way, it’s your call.

  5. High Court challenge due to the outrageous imitation of the AEC font.

    pretty rich coming from a prime minister that, as a shadow minister, refused to word…to use the word ‘multiculturalism’. I think that is Scott Morrison’s history. He’s not that much of a fan of multiculturalism. He is now, of course

    Brilliant! Refuse to say multiculturalism when it suits and play the race card when it suits.

    Scummo also wanted to “capitalise on the growing anti-slim sentiment”:

  6. The miracle in QLD will not be repeated without another 60 million ad spend from Clive Palmer. ScoMo would not dare to risk the one seat majority.

  7. proofreadersMEMBER

    The LNP will ride out this disgrace and then likely shaft Straya with their cash bill – how good is Straya.

  8. Forrest GumpMEMBER

    The longer ScoMo holds on, the more voters he will alienate. Does he really think that his “quiet Australians” approve of this?

    Nope…wrong…Aussies don’t give a rats arse

    We are so in debt with our mortgages, the only thing that matters is higher house prices and getting tax funded franking credits….Nothing else matters

  9. Full support eh. Is this like footy, where when a coach has the “full support” of the club, you know he’s stuffed?

  10. proofreadersMEMBER

    Does anyone know when (today or tomorrow) Shark-1 is departing for Washington for our dear leader to be feted by another great statesman, as another of the world’s great leaders?

  11. Come on Scomo, stop stuffing about and just cede the country to China. Lock stock and barrel. This slow, drawn out, sell a bit at a time, is getting tedious. You know you want to, your mates want it, just do it.

  12. As long as albo is leader the libs won’t do anything. Fact is labs think they are on a winner letting Wong do all the attacking but they ain’t. Needs the leader of Labor to step up like a pit bull and start tearing into the issue. Albo has no stature or physical presence. He is like droopy Dog cartoon. What we need is China to giver her automatic citizen ship. That will fix things.

  13. Whats all the hubbub … China is just negotiating with the Pro Business lobby proxy arms length negotiators … that way if the unwashed get cranky a polie just gets their wings clipped and a early post on some concocted perch with benefits … on to the next election cycle … rinse and repeat ….

  14. Senator Cormann:
    “Gladys Liu is the elected Member for Chisholm because a majority of Australians in Chisholm preferred her and the Liberal Party to the Labor alternative,” Senator Cormann said.
    “Her Labor opponent was a member of a number of the same organisations that Labor is now using for its disgraceful, unsubstantiated smear and dog whistle“


    So both the leading candidates for Chisholm were Chinese spies?

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      Correct. And both of them have been serial triers at getting elected to public office for their Lord Xi back in the Death Star