Australia’s Labor Slams Media Red-Baiting Amid Claims Pro-China ‘Puppeteer’ Bankrolled Candidates

© AFP 2023 / Peter PARKSA visitor is seen at the Australia pavillion on the second day of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai
A visitor is seen at the Australia pavillion on the second day of the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai  - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2022
Multiple Australian news outlets reported Friday that an unnamed businessman with strong ties to both Australia and the People’s Republic of China had been caught red-handed trying to provide covert funding for Labor Party candidates in New South Wales, ostensibly to gain political leverage for the PRC.
Australian opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese has shot back at detractors amid media claims that China is seeking to meddle in the upcoming May 2022 federal election by funding his party, saying the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) “never raised any concern about any of” Labor’s candidates.
“I understand the Government is desperate for distractions at the moment. But I say to them that national security is too important. This is what the Director-General said: ‘It is critical we do not let fear of foreign interference undermine stakeholder engagement or stoke community division. Were this to happen, it would perversely have the same corrosive impact on our democracy as foreign influence itself’. That’s a warning from the Director-General of ASIO, in his speech,” Albanese said in a video address posted to his Twitter page.
“Playing political games with our security agencies goes against Australia’s national interests,” the politician added.
Earlier in the day, major Australian newspapers including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and others reported, citing “multiple security sources,” that Chinese intelligence may have attempted to bankroll Labor candidates in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, using a businessman intermediary.
ASIO chief Mike Burgess is said to have revealed in a Wednesday report to officials that “many” foreign actors were presently targeting Australian politics, but declined to “identify the jurisdiction” responsible “because we are seeing attempts at foreign influence at all levels of government, in all states and territories.”

However, according to media, an unnamed Chinese businessman with ties to both Australia and China and connections to PRC intelligence known only as “the puppeteer” was said to have sought to arrange a “sophisticated spy ring” to provide China-sympathetic candidates with hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding. The plot was said to have been uncovered and foiled before any damage could be done.

The reports cited “concern within national security circles” that “the puppeteer” may strike again.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National Coalition has faced flagging support in opinion polling in recent months, trailing by margins of as low as 34% compared to Labor’s 56% in the latest surveys.
Australia and UK Hold Annual AUKMIN Summit on 21 January 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 21.01.2022
UK Mulls Basing Military Assets in Australia Amid 'Malign Actors' Rise in Indo-Pacific
On Thursday, Defence Minister Peter Dutton explicitly claimed in a session of parliament that China’s Communist Party had “picked” Albanese as their “bloke” in the upcoming vote, sparking allegations from Labor that the government was engaged in blatant red-baiting.
Both Morrison and Albanese are said to have been briefed on the alleged interference plot.
Australia’s relations with China have collapsed under Prime Minister Morrison, with Canberra accusing Beijing of meddling in the country’s internal affairs, and taking Washington’s side on the maritime dispute in the South China Sea. Australia has also raised ‘human rights’ concerns related to China’s activities in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, with Beijing firing back by pointing to alleged Australian 'war crimes' in Afghanistan. The Morrison government’s calls for an independent international inquiry into the origins of Covid, combined with Australia’s formation of a new security pact with London and Washington known as AUKUS, and back-and-forth measures targeting each country’s businesses, have sent relations spiraling further.
A visitor wearing a face mask to protect against the coronavirus looks at a display of Australian wines at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on Nov. 5, 2020. China is raising import taxes on Australian wine, stepping up pressure on Australia over disputes including its support for a probe into the origin of the coronavirus. - Sputnik International, 1920, 30.11.2021
Et Tu? US Steals Most of Australia's Sale to China Amid Trade Row, Finds Study
To participate in the discussion
log in or register
Заголовок открываемого материала