TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
ALAN JONES SHOW
THURSDAY, 23 JULY 2020
SUBJECT: Foreign Interference.
ALAN JONES, HOST: Which brings us to our panel of women. Amanda Stoker, the Liberal Senator from Queensland, who belongs at the top of the tree, and Tanya Plibersek, the former deputy leader of the Labor Party and a very powerful figure in the alternative Government. Tanya, can I come to you first because you've had experience in Government. I mean, President Xi has described the United Front as his magic weapon. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute analysis suggests that they've spread into universities, corporations and political parties. Tanya, what needs to done?
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING: Well, there's two things, I think, we need to be careful of Alan. The first is, as you said, politicians go to functions all the time. I've been to Chinese functions. I've been to Lebanese Maronite functions, Greek Orthodox functions in my electorate. Vietnamese, I've been to Jewish Hanukkah, you know, right across the board. And, that's quite proper because we have new Australians, as my parents were called when they came here, who settle in Australia who are great Australian patriots but they want to share their culture and that's a really great thing to be involved in. What you're talking about is something much more malevolent, which is the attempt of foreign governments to influence what happens here in Australia. It’s not unique to Australia, there's more than one government trying to do it. In fact, the head of ASIO has said very clearly that there has not been a time in history where the efforts of foreign governments to infiltrate and influence Australian domestic politics has been as acute as it is now and we have to defend against that. In 2018, Labor supported two pieces of legislation to try and push back on foreign interference. We refused to take donations from foreign sources years before the Government legislated to prevent that. Just recently, we suggested an inquiry in the Senate to look at the use of social media in efforts to infiltrate and influence Australian domestic politics. We have to push back against all of it. And, just one last thing Alan. You were sort of making implications about the Victorian Government. I know Premier Andrews, he is an Australian patriot. He is a fine Australian Patriot.
JONES: I'm worried about the Belt and Road stuff Tanya. And, I think the Belt and Road is an attempt for China to exert influence in a whole heap of countries. They're doing it right around the world, but I might just go to Amanda. Amanda, if the fullest extent of Chinese Communist influence in the Australian political system is unknown. How do we find out?
AMANDA STOKER, SENATOR FROM QUEENSLAND: Well, I think the fact that we are having moments like discovering Aldi bags full of cash being delivered to Labor headquarters, from people connected to the Chinese Communist Party. We know that Australia's intelligence agencies are doing their job. The first priority of the Australian Government always has to be to keep Australian safe from those who would do them or the institutions on which they depend harm. And, that's why the Morrison Government has been committed to giving these agencies the powers and the resources and the police bodies that need to follow up with investigations and prosecutions - what they need to be able to deliver for Australians.
JONES: Well, now Tanya if I come back to you. When Shaoquett Moselmane says and I quote "As you are aware the Australian Chinese community has been under sustained political, racial and physical abuse. They don't deserve the slander that they have received and certainly didn't deserve the abuse and violent political attacks they have so far sustained". Is that view – is he entitled to that view, and we talk about free expressions, he is entitled to say that – does it suggest though that he might be doing someone else's bidding?
PLIBERSEK: Well, the first thing to say is I thought Amanda might mention Gladys Liu, who is a Liberal Member of Parliament who has public links with the Communist Party of China.
JONES: That's absolutely right. That's quite right, quite right.
PLIBERSEK: And, rather than trying to imply that this is somehow a Labor thing and a Liberal thing. We need to...
JONES: I'm not suggesting that. No, I'm not suggesting that.
PLIBERSEK: No, no, I know you're notm Amanda just did. And Alan, what I would say is we need to work together. This should be above politics.
JONES: Yes, absolutely.
PLIBERSEK: All of us should be pushing away any attempt to influence our domestic politics by any outside influencer. Now, I'm not going to comment on the Shaoquett Moselmane investigation. I wouldn't comment on any ongoing investigation.
JONES: No I was only using that as an example Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: Yes, but he's right in one sense. We do need to have robust political debates and people ought not be afraid to state their views in public. That's a really important part of our democracy that we need to protect but always, always, Alan, we should be acting in the best interests of Australia. We should be putting Australian interests first.
JONES: Absolutely. Well, just on that if I come to Amanda. If the United Front, Amanda, is as President Xi suggests his magic weapon. Shouldn't we start getting a wriggle on and finding out where they exist in universities, corporations and political parties?
STOKER: Look, yes, but I think we can take some comfort from the fact that our intelligence agencies are uncovering problems of this kind more and more. That tells us that they have the powers they need to be doing their job of protecting Australians from those who don't have Australia's interests at heart. Now, I have to take the point though on Ms. Liu. That is an entirely unfair comparison in circumstances where we have the Victorian Government signing up to a program that is about delivering the Chinese Communist Party influence over Government's here in Australia, using their financial means. Where we have former Labor Senators, who have had to resign over inappropriate connections to Communist Party influences. Where we have had Aldi bags full of cash arriving and now we have Mr. Moselmane raided for what appears to be an investigation into his staff and their inappropriate links. The comparisons could not be further from the truth. And, the reason I raised is to suggest that Labor's...
PLIBERSEK: Well, Amanda. You might have missed the reporting in New South Wales papers today about the thousand dollar donation from the company that Alan mentioned to a Liberal Party MP.
STOKER: I haven't missed that Tanya. But, the difference here is that you've come on the program and said that Labor are different because they outlawed donations. Well, that's all good and well, but when it's arriving in an Aldi bag, it suggests that whatever your policy might be, it isn't being born out in real life.
JONES: Well, I think Amanda and Tanya, isn't it true that where national security is involved, we've got to try and have an agreement between parties as to how it's going to be addressed. I mean, these are serious threats, serious threats, aren't they?
PLIBERSEK: One hundred per cent.
JONES: Look, we'll leave it there. It's good to talk to you. I wanted to have a yarn with you tonight to but we've run out of time on the budget. So, store that along and we'll see actually how either of you thinks we're going to overcome the kind of budget problems we face. I think you'd both agree that pretty significant aren't they. Okay, good to talk to you Tanya.
PLIBERSEK: Unemployment, in particular.
JONES: A big issue, big issue. Amanda, thank you for your time. There they are...
STOKER: Thank you Alan.
JONES: The big guns in both parties. Amanda Stoker, with a lot of ability. A Liberal Senator - she'd be better off in the lower house. I have to tell you. And, Tanya Plibersek, the former deputy leader of the Labor Party.