MEDIA RELEASE: Sustainable Australia Party calls for government consistency on foreign influence and action on campaign donations

Last year the Liberal Government passed the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act, and it came into effect in December. In doing so it earned attacks from Bill Shorten and Kristina Keneally during the Bennelong Byelection that it was “China phobic”.

Last year the Liberal Government passed the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act, and it came into effect in December. In doing so it earned attacks from Bill Shorten and Kristina Keneally during the Bennelong Byelection that it was “China phobic”.

It stood up to those attacks, with Attorney General Christian Porter saying “This sends a strong message to those who would seek to undermine our way of life that Australia is acutely aware of activities against our national security and will continue to take the steps necessary to thwart their activities”.

Unfortunately it has gone down a very different path when it comes to the Liberal Member for Chisholm, Gladys Liu. Prime Minister Morrison’s claim that to raise issues concerning her membership of a Chinese Communist Party propaganda vehicle “has a very grubby undertone” and is a smear on the 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage, is just nonsense.

The implication that those 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage are happy to be seen as agents of the Chinese Government is appalling. Many, almost certainly most, would not want the Chinese government exercising undue influence in the Australian community, and would strongly support robust debate about such matters.

Liberal Senator James Patterson this week made some sensible criticisms of Ms Liu. Presumably the Prime Minister does not think he was being racist. Prime Minister Morrison should withdraw the race card in relation to Ms Liu, and get the Government back to protecting Australia from foreign influence, as it was doing last year.

Inevitably questions of foreign influence come bundled up with campaign donations. Australia’s campaign donation laws remain weak, and need strengthening. The Sustainable Australia Party supports a cap on political donations at $10,000 in total per person/entity per year, a ban on foreign donations, and more timely disclosure of political donations. In the digital age there is no reason why donations cannot be disclosed and made public in real time.”

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