It seems that with each layer of this issue we peel back, more Chinese influence can be found staring us in face.
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of the problem, and it won’t be the last.
From US-China trade tensions, to questionable foreign donations, rumours of attempted election fixing, and even Aussie councillors being charged with corruption, we’ve covered it here at The Australian Tribune.
In 2016, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull ordered an investigation into the extent of foreign interference in Australia. Only now are we able to point a finger at China.
Nine News have published a report stating that China is the main country involved in political meddling.
The report states that the Chinese government has attempted to influence Australians’ political parties for the past decade. With infiltration even seeping down to local councils.
This top secret report was the main force behind the foreign interference laws introduced into Parliament last year.
Keep in mind this is after Beijing’s attempts at influence purportedly spread to political players as high up as Labor’s Sam Dastyari and the Liberal Party’s Andrew Robb.
But Turnbull told Parliament he could not provide extensive details about the report.
John Garnaut, a contributor to the report and a former Turnbull advisor, did not comment on details of the investigation. But has previously warned of China’s influence in Australia.
‘Under the uncompromising leadership of present Xi Jinping, China’s activities have become so brazen and so aggressive that we can’t ignore it any longer,’ he told the US House Armed Services Committee in March.
ASIO’s director Duncan Lewis came out last week saying that the scale of foreign intelligence activity against Australian was unprecedented:
‘Foreign actors covertly attempt to influence and shape the views of members of the Australian public, the Australian media, officials in the Australian government.’
The spotlight is now on John Garnaut and Bob Carr.
After questions were asked about Garnaut’s working history, added scrutiny now surrounds Beijing’s influence.
It was claimed that Mr Carr suggested to Labor Senator Kristina Keneally that she should ask questions about Mr Garnaut’s current employment status. Ultimately, Labor’s Kimberly Kitching was the one to read them out last week.
In a conversation with senior officials, Kitching asked:
‘Has the Prime Minister’s office or Department contracted Mr. Garnaut’ services as a consultant, adviser or speechwriter since June 2017.’
‘We certainly have a contact with John Garnaut. That’s a contract with the department as a specialist speechwriter, in effect,’ Stephanie Foster, from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet said.
Former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr asked another Labor Senator to put forth questions on his behalf amongst senate estimates regarding John Garnaut, as told to ABC’s radio station AM.
According to the ABC, a source says Mr Carr ‘had a pattern of writing questions’ and was well known for doing so. But he denied drafting questions for ‘either two of the labour senators’, to the ABC.
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