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The real threat to our national security

While Pauline Hanson spreads her hatred of Muslims, Peter Dutton wages war on refugees, and Malcolm Turnbull berates bail and parole decisions, the real threat to our national security and sovereignty is ignored.

Three months before the 2013 election, Stuart Robert organised a dinner in his Parliament House office with Tony Abbott and Chinese business mogul Li Ruipeng at the request of his donor mate, Paul Marks, so Mr Li could meet senior Liberals including shadow resources minister Ian Macfarlane. Also present at the gathering was the then president of the Liberal National Party, Bruce McIver, a party powerbroker who was later appointed as a director of Australia Post.

That was the dinner where they were all gifted Rolex watches which they thought were “fake”.

In August 2014, Robert accompanied Paul Marks to Beijing where a mining deal between Australian company Nimrod Resources and Chinese state-controlled corporation China Minmetals was signed. Robert insists he was “on holidays” and there in a private capacity though it was apparent that Chinese officials at the event were under the impression that he was present as an Australian government minister.

Robert has also given evidence recently at the Queensland Crime and Corruption hearing into interference in the Gold Coast elections. He funded, through the Fadden Forum, two of the women who worked in his electoral office to run for council in what appeared to be an attempt to oust Peter Young who tends to vote against development applications that threaten the environment.

Robert’s employee Felicity Stevenson was one of six candidates in the 2016 Gold Coast elections who hired former Tony Abbott staffer and developer lobbyist Simone Holzapfel on their campaigns.

Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane left politics and was immediately appointed chief executive of the Queensland Resources Council.

Former Trade Minister Andrew Robb, whose fundraising vehicle, the Bayside Forum, received a $50,000 donation from Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo the day the Chinese Free Trade agreement was signed, took a job as consultant to yet another Chinese billionaire, Ye Cheng, the day before the 2016 election was held.

Mr Cheng’s company, Landbridge Group, was embroiled in controversy when it was awarded a 99-year lease over the port of Darwin.

The political influence being exerted by these businessmen was apparent when Senator Sam Dastyari appeared with Mr Huang at a press conference exclusively for Chinese media, where he echoed Beijing’s line on the disputed waters in the South China Sea.

In April 2016, Scott Morrison rejected a bid by Dakang Australia Holdings to buy the Kidman cattle empire, saying its planned purchase was contrary to the national interest but, by December, he had approved the sale to Gina Rinehart in partnership with Shanghai CRED.

Kidman & Co controls 100,000 square kilometres of pastoral leases – about 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total land area and 2.5 per cent of the country’s agricultural land but it doesn’t end there. Shanghai CRED finalised a deal in October for around $2 million to buy several properties in Western Australia’s Goldfields region owned by WA cattle identity Jack Burton, the Melita, Jeedamya and Kookynie stations. It has also reportedly purchased other stations in the Goldfields region and recently snapped up Yakka Munga and Mount Elizabeth stations in the Kimberley.

A new report from Sydney University and accounting firm KPMG found a record 103 deals were signed between Chinese and Australian companies in 2016 with investment up 12 per cent from 2015 to $15.4 billion last year.

Australia is the second biggest recipient of Chinese investment globally behind the US, with $US90 billion in investment since 2007.

Investment in infrastructure rose to a record $4.34 billion, with China’s sovereign wealth fund taking stakes in transport firm Asciano, and the Port of Melbourne.

There was also continued investment in healthcare with China Resources Holdings investing $383 million in radiation, oncology, and cardiology services provider Genesis Care.

Chinese Government-owned State Grid Corporate and Hong Kong-listed Cheung Kong Infrastructure — the two companies whose bid for NSW electricity distributor Ausgrid were blocked by Treasurer Scott Morrison — already own significant shares in the privatised state power distributors.

The government insists we need foreign investment to create jobs but the Chinese aren’t starting new businesses – we are selling them the farm, the house and throwing in the furniture and car.

Despite concerns raised by our intelligence agencies about political donations from Chinese businessmen with links to the government and about money-laundering by Special Investment Visa holders from China, our politicians continue to provide special access in return for money.

As China expands its ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, the government would do well to read the briefing advice from its own department.

On the economic front, China has been criticised for using its massive financial assets to dominate smaller economies through long-term control of infrastructure, natural resources and associated land assets which can result in China exerting some control over local markets, labour and export policies.

It has been repeatedly noted in China that OBOR is also intended as a regional security mechanism, and the future role of the People’s Liberation Army in protecting China’s OBOR facilities abroad has been widely discussed.

Broader concerns relate to the longer-term aims of China, with the possibility that the OBOR agenda is aimed at creating a Eurasia-wide, China-led bloc to counter the US. At the June 2016 Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, Professor Xiang Lanxin, director of the Centre of One Belt and One Road Studies at the China National Institute for SCO International Exchange and Judicial Cooperation, spoke of OBOR as being an avenue to a ‘post-Westphalian world’. As such, some see this initiative as a profound challenge to the current global political and economic status quo.

As Australia becomes increasingly tied economically with China, there is a need to maintain a close watch on the progress of the OBOR initiative globally. Australia needs to adopt a more economically and strategically prudent attitude in determining how the Australia-China economic relationship is to further develop.

Instead, our politicians, like the Native Americans who gave Manhatten away, seem to have fallen for the shiny trinkets of political donations, Rolex watches and a high-paying job when you leave parliament.

23 comments

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  1. Peter

    Thanks Kay. I watched the 4 Corners program and was shocked by what is taking place.
    If China as a sovereign investor upheld democratic values that would be one thing. But it doesn’t. China holds all the power over our economy and OBOR means we will be part of the communist version of capitalism. Say goodbye to the freedom of expression we now have and get ready to hand the keys of all public assets over to our new overlords. It doesn’t surprise me that our political elite are making much of whatever distraction comes to hand at the moment.
    Traitorous is the word that comes to mind.

  2. Kaye Lee

    I have absolutely no problem with us doing business with the Chinese provided we are savvy about it – which we are not.

    We shouldn’t sell vital infrastructure (transport, communications, utilities etc) to anyone. We should sell the produce from the farm, not the farm itself. We should not agree to ISDS clauses in free trade agreements that allow companies to sue us if we pass environmental or health laws that would hurt their profits and which allow them to evergreen patents and withhold research results after copyright runs out.

    In our unseemly haste to get signatures on the dotted line, we signed long term contracts to export our gas at what seemed like a good price then – now, not so much. Free trade agreements were given a deadline rather than goals – the Chinese couldn’t believe their luck. They immediately put a tariff on our coal so they could negotiate to take it off again as the deadline drew closer.

    These guys are such amateurs – lambs to the slaughter for those who know what they are doing. The politics is too important for our politicians. They don’t have the time for good decision-making. Votes for sale.

  3. Vikingduk

    Traitorous and blind? Traitorous and complicit? China has been on this road long before naming it, as far as I can recall when they started buying up agricultural land in Africa. They needed more food production because, as China developed they lost their ability to be self-sufficient in food production as more land was developed.

    As we see now, they have turned enemies to friends (e,g, Philippines) not at gunpoint but large infrastructure loans and arms sales all backed up by their repurposed coral atolls. So, while trump onanistically tweets his bullshit, his meaningless, impotent threats against North Korea and China, they just simply, relentlessly get on with the job.

    Want to buy a politician? Buy a country? Cheap as chips they say, we don’t need no war, just money and greed.

    Of which they find many willing participants.

    Regarding the traitor, Andrew Robb, a slimy little shit, surprisingly a term that could be applied to most politicians, so the story goes, was suffering the painful condition of shingles when he was negotiating the FTA with China, so I presume, as well as his usual meds he was also taking morphine based pain relief, the presumption being, was he mixing his meds? Doesn’t matter anyway, we are being shafted while that shit prospers, conducting his final f*ck youse all in a stoned haze.

    Makes a change from the usual drunken haze most of them seem to find necessary.

  4. Frank Smith

    Kaye Lee,
    It hurts me terribly to say this, but perhaps The Donald has done something useful after all in jettisoning the TPP.

  5. Ill fares the land

    My view with regard to Chinese investment in this country is simple. Sell the “fruit” perhaps, but don’t sell the “tree”.

    The reality is that Chinese is dangerous both as a “friend” as well as an “enemy”. It has the funds to buy Australia many times over and still have change. China acts only in its own interests and we are progressively being colonised.

    The flood of Chinese and Chinese money into this country presents some very serious issues from a food and national security perspective, before we even get to the impact on housing prices. We have been deluded into believing that what is good for China is good for us – it is a scam being perpetrated on Australia by big business and our government.

    I have believed for some time that what has been happening by stealth and with the largess of government (especially the LNP) is that quality Australian food products are sold to China and in return, we get cheap rubbish dumped on us. China wants our products because they perceive that they are grown in an unspoiled and environmentally safe land. By contrast, much Chinese food is grown in areas where that is not necessarily true – this is especially the case with fish product grown in polluted Asian waters. If that product is not good enough for them, why do we tolerate the supermarket moguls and big business generally foisting those products on us? But we finish up paying export prices for inferior imported product and those who export quality product from this country get rich. Cheap food, cheap steel. Wait until structural problems with Australian buildings and other structures as a result of using cheap imported steel start to emerge.

    I have no issue at all with individual Chinese – I know many and include many amongst my friends. What I object to vehemently is the flood of Chinese and billions of dollars buying up assets (farming, commercial and residential land in particular) and pushing the prices of those assets beyond the reach of Australians – all with the approval of government. This issue should be a concern for all Australians. Once China has control over significant assets, it won’t relinquish that control without a fight. The contretemps brewing in the South China Sea is a portent of what we might expect when China believes it national interests and its aim of being the next global “thug” are threatened.

    Unfortunately, while we have corrupt scum like Robb and Dastyari lining their own pockets and building influence with and doing favours for Chinese interests to enrich give themselves (at the expense of those who elected them to the Parliament I might add), it seems we are doomed.

  6. Max Glazer

    Safe to say “Treason”!

  7. Vikingduk

    And for something totally off topic (sorry all) if you have been suffering Schapelle Corby deprivation, worry no more, she is up this neck of the woods, holidaying on the Sunshine Coast, apparently posting pics taken at Double Island Point.

  8. Frank Smith

    It seems to have largely slipped under the radar, possibly because it is in the remote Kimberley, but in 2012 the WA Barnett Govt leased 12500 hectares of the Second Stage of the Ord Irrigation Development to the Chinese Company Kimberley Agricultural Investment. That is a huge chunk of the very best of Australia’s agricultural land along with its water supply and irrigation infrastructure that we Australian taxpayers have set up and paid for. One has to wonder just what return we will get from this, as no doubt the agricultural produce will be shipped directly to China from nearby Wyndham.

  9. Clean livin

    And they say we don’t need a National Crime commission……

  10. Freethinker

    IMHO the kind of issues like this are whet create divisions:
    http://www.icv.org.au/submission-inquiry-freedom-religion/

    “Muslim Victorians experience religious intolerance in the form of Islamophobia, racial abuse and breaches of our universal human rights in the name of national security and some Australian media personality’s ‘freedom of speech’ claims.”
    Recommendation 2:

    Existing Commonwealth CVE and CT funding re-allocated to create safe spaces urgently needed by Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms, where they can be frank and even use words, which in a public space would sound inflammatory.

    In another words hey are asking for a place where the young can discuss topics that are outside of the law.
    I agree with Daniel Andrews when he said:

    “We’ve had a constructive relationship with the Islamic Council of Victoria but … proposing to create a space where people can just rant … this is a hate space,”

  11. paulwalter

    Better if they invest in local entities than buy them out.

  12. jimhaz

    Shorten should be out there warning of us becoming a “Fuzzy Kiwifruit Republic” or Red Date Republic instead of the Banana Republic we already seem to be.

    (Kiwifruit and Jujube/Red Date are apparently China’s national fruit says Wiki)

    “In economics, a banana republic is a country with an economy of state capitalism, by which economic model the country is operated as a private commercial enterprise for the exclusive profit of the ruling class. Such exploitation is effected by collusion between the State and favored economic monopolies, in which the profit derived from the private exploitation of public lands is private property, while the debts incurred thereby are the financial responsibility of the public treasury”

  13. Miriam English

    I think it’s great that we have a “flood” of Chinese people coming here to become Australians. More power to them. But I don’t like the idea of selling off Australian land and industries to China. Japan has the right idea. If you are a foreigner you simply can’t buy into Japan. You can only buy product or invest. That’s what we should be doing.

    Frankly, I think the greatest potential threat to Australia is Indonesia. USA is turning inward so is unlikely to be much help to us. However if we have large numbers of people from China living here and large Chinese investments here then I think we could rely upon the protection of China. There are weird things happening in Indonesia at the moment. They were one of the most tolerant Muslim nations in the world, but there is now suddenly a rise in religious intolerance there and they are having violent persecution of gay people. Not good.

    What is it with religious and right-wing intolerance at the moment? We need to find some way to disempower it.

  14. helvityni

    Excellent post, Miriam English.

  15. Pilgrim

    Il fares the land. You suggest future.problems with buildings constructed from inferior Chinese steel. You may not be aware that the Perth Childrens Hospital, built by John Holland ( a company with Chinese involvement) has had a whole series of problems of construction such as asbestos in ceiling linings), The major issues is lead above safe levels in the water, which has delayed the opening for many months and is still not fixed. Suggestions are that the pipes laid in the base of the structure are the source of the problem. Questions arise of inadequate supervision/quality control under the Liberal government. Should the base pipes be the cause, the whole building may need to be rebuilt!

  16. John L

    It’s called corruption!

  17. Harquebus

    “We’re friends as long as you accept the fact that the South China Sea is ours, all of it including the portion you call the West Philippine Sea. As long as you accept this, we will provide you with generous loans to fund your infrastructure projects. But if you drill for oil there, we will declare war on you.” — Chinese President Xi Jinping to Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte
    http://usa.inquirer.net/4314/china-will-declare-war-ph-drills-oil

    Cheers.

  18. Max Gross

    The word you’re looking for is TREASON

  19. Andreas Bimba

    The influence of money, lobbying and vested interests must be removed from politics. Public financing of election campaigning with tight laws preventing private donations as well as a permanent ICAC are essential.

    Politicians must learn that they must only serve in the best interests of their electorates and the Australian people.

    The duopoly has also proven easy to corrupt and a new proportional system of voting for the lower houses of our parliaments such as the Tasmanian Hare-Clark or New Zealand MMP voting system is needed to ensure that a true multi party political system can develop that can better punish parties that become too corrupt by replacing them.

    China and corporate greed have been shown to have a substantial and damaging influence over Australia’s fragile democracy.

  20. Kyran

    It seems funny to note Marsden’s series ‘Tomorrow when the war began’ posed an unrealistic scenario that Australia would be invaded through the use of its ports and airports. Lots of violence and the usual butchery associated with military acts.
    The scenario seems to be coming to pass without a shot being fired. We are so clever, we leased our ports and airports to the ‘foreign hordes’, avoiding the need for any bloodshed.
    Whilst banning foreign companies from owning our assets outright, we have credible business leaders that will accommodate the all important deal. Selling Kidman to the Chinese was never going to fly. It had to be proposed to make the alternative palatable. Sell it to a local and ignore the foreign business partner. You see? Much betterer.
    Kidman (Hancock Prospecting) have announced a deal about exporting 150-300,000 cattle to China.
    It can’t be all bad, our ABC did an article on it. The Darwin Port is likely to be necessary for the deal. Thank goodness her business partners already lease it.
    Now, this may come as a surprise, but this deal ticks all of the boxes.
    “”Australia needs to export currently two-thirds of its cattle, so overseas markets must continue to be developed if we are to grow our cattle industry,” she said.”
    Ok, it might not explain why ‘Australia’ needs to export 2/3rds of its cattle. But, assuming she is right, ‘Australia’ will benefit. Curious that she didn’t mention ‘Australians’. Based on her press release, compliments of the ABC, she doesn’t explain why we need to grow our cattle industry when we already have to get rid of 2/3rds of it. Hancock Prospecting don’t seem to be relying on exporting natural minerals to our newest BFF. Thank goodness she hasn’t partnered Adani. (Good luck getting that image out of your head.)
    “Growing our cattle industry helps the many related industries, not just the stations themselves, but also the trough and tank suppliers, the contractors and truckers, accountants and other consultants, and more.”
    See? Trickle down works. She and her business partners will use (presumably local) providers of troughs, assuming they can import them from Canberra. As for contractors, truckers, accountants and other consultants, I can only guess they will be visa holders or politicians. ‘Other consultants’ can be valuable, even if their own electorates don’t appreciate them.
    “She promised that “Australian and Chinese operations will be conducted to the highest animal welfare standards.””
    Bearing in mind the profound effect of ‘that 4 Corners report’, it is important that the animals destined for export are treated well. It’s not like they were our First People, or those reliant on our government for assistance and support in their times of trouble, or our young, or those seeking asylum.
    It ticks all of the boxes.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-09/gina-rinehart-signs-cooperation-agreement-send-cattle-to-china/8603420

    The imbedded article about ‘New Hope’ is interesting in its own way.
    “Mr Liu said the Australian Government had been positive towards his investment ambitions.
    “The Australian governments are good, they welcome Chinese and international investors as long as the investors bring benefits to Australian people, they will support,” he said.
    Mr Liu said he would continue with the co-investment investment model in Australia.
    “I have found many investments made by Chinese enterprises in Australia, they have acquired this, or acquired that, but in this pattern, if we can develop with Australian partners, isn’t it much better?
    “Australians are very smart. Isn’t it better for us to cooperate with them?”
    At least our Chinese partners can tell the difference between benefits to ‘Australia’ and benefits to ‘Australians’. Our politicians and business people, not so much.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-02/meet-the-chinese-billionaire-backing-australian-agriculture/8191408

    How good would it be if Ms Bishop leased Pine Gap to the Chinese? Bearing in mind that it is the home of Five Eyes and Prism, the reality is very simple. The American’s currently ‘rent’ it, for their own advantage, whilst exposing Australians to risk by its very existence. The American’s want to assert their authority on China. Australia wants to sell everything, or at least get a reasonable rent. If we rent the land to China, who can then impose tenancy agreements on the Americans, it may end up in tears, but it would tick all the boxes.
    Security? We haven’t had it for decades. Postulating gits with vested interests are neither substitute or replacement for ‘security’. Whether their vestige is business or politics, they keep missing that bit about people. Yet they still persist in telling us they know best.
    Thank you Ms Lee and commenters. Take care

  21. Alan

    Kyran, I believe our govt is committed to sell all of Australia off, especially to Communist China. Combine the Chinese skill for ‘appearing’ money (accounting irregularities by the Peoples Bank of China and QE), our politicians lean-in attitude to bribery, lack of Anti-Money Laundering regulations and a compliant msm and we have the perfect storm.
    The 99 year lease of the Port of Darwin said it all. The Landbridge Group (Communist-backed) leasing the facility will break even in about 15 years. The whole NT govt should have been sacked after that deal. At the current rate our future will resemble that of Tibet, just another autonomous region ruled by China. Free speech, will it survive? I hope so.

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