It was August 2014 when then assistant defence minister, Stuart Robert, took a “private” trip to Beijing to oversee a mining deal involving a major Liberal donor and meet a Chinese vice-minister.
Robert had a shareholding in Metallum Holdings, which had an interest in Paul Marks’ Nimrod Resources. The Liberal Party declared Mr Marks donated $250,000 as an individual and $500,000 from his company Nimrod Resources in 2013-14.
Robert did not inform anyone in the government that he was going, later insisting he was there in a private capacity. Apparently, he didn’t tell that to the Chinese as detailed in the Guardian:
A media release issued by China MinMetals Corporation said Robert had extended his congratulations “on behalf of the Australian Department of Defence” and had presented “a medal bestowed to him by Australian prime minister in honour of remembrance and blessing”.
This was followed by a meeting with the Chinese vice-minister of land and resources in the reported presence of Nimrod Resources the next day.
This was far from Robert’s only dealing with influential Chinese.
In 2013 he hosted a dinner in his Parliament House office for Chinese businessman Li Ruipeng, Tony Abbott, Ian McFarlane and Paul Marks after which Li gave them all Rolex watches valued at about $250,000. After “advice from the clerk”, the watches were returned.
And Robert isn’t the only one with close links.
Two years after clinching a historic free trade deal with Beijing, in October 2016, it was announced that former trade minister Andrew Robb had joined the Landbridge Group, a Chinese company which had been granted a 99-year lease on Port Darwin in 2015, as a “high-level economic consultant”. It was reported that Robb had accepted the $73,000 per month position before leaving Parliament. Landbridge Group is chaired by Ye Cheng, a billionaire with links to the Communist Party of China.
ASIO warned the major parties about taking donations from two Chinese property developers because of links to the Chinese Communist Party. The warnings have been ignored. One of these men donated $50,000 to Andrew Robb’s campaign financing vehicle, the Bayside Forum, on the day the Free Trade Agreement was signed in 2014.
To underscore how ridiculous Peter Dutton’s baseless claims about the Chinese wanting to instal Anthony Albanese, and the whole reds under the bed scare campaign, Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Future Fund, has millions invested in a Chinese state-controlled weapons manufacturer. We also host survival training exercises for Chinese military personnel in Queensland and the NT.
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