Opposition leader Bill Shorten during House of Representatives question time at Parliament House on May 11, 2017 in Canberra, Australia. According to a media report, Shorten asked wealthy Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo for money after his party was warned by ASIO of the billionaire’s ties with the Chinese Communist Party. (Stefan Postles/Getty Images)
The leader of Australia’s opposition party – and the country’s next possible leader – has come under scrutiny for visiting the home of a Chinese political donor months after his party was warned about the donor’s ties with Beijing.
Fairfax Media has reported that Bill Shorten, leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP), visited the home of wealthy Chinese Communist Party-linked political donor Huang Xiangmo in March 2016.
The report said Shorten and his family visited Huang at his affluent Sydney suburb of Mosman to seek donations for an advertising campaign.
The report said that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) in 2015 warned the country’s three main political parties about Beijing’s interference in Australian politics using considerable financial donations. At the briefings, the head of ASIO Duncan Lewis reportedly told party officials – including the then ALP national secretary George Wright – that the country’s security service was alarmed about Huang’s murky ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
It is not clear if Wright told Shorten of these details before his visit to Huang’s home. ASIO personally briefed Shorten on their concerns over CCP interference in Australian politics in late 2016, months after he visited Huang’s home, reported Fairfax.
Shorten has not denied the report published Monday, Dec. 4, and sources told the newspaper that the ALP leader requested a “significant amount” from Huang.
Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten speaks to local residents during a town hall meeting on June 28, 2016 in Nowra, Australia. (Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
The newspaper stated that since the 2015 ASIO briefing, the ALP has taken AU$141,000 (US$107,000) in donations from companies and associates linked to Huang. The coalition parties – the Liberal Party and the Nationals who currently run government – had also reportedly taken money. The Liberal Party took AU$122,960 (US$93,500) and the Nationals AU$15,000 (US$11,400) from those suspect sources.
Huang is a person of interest to Australian intelligence services because of his connections to the CCP, including how he was, until very recently, the head of a Sydney organization associated with the United Front Work Department — a CCP political lobbying and propaganda agency. Huang is also on record telling a Communist Party newspaper that “political demands and political donations” should be linked.