Australia

Chinese businessman’s links to Liberal MPs need investigating: Labor

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has demanded the Morrison government investigate alleged connections between two Liberal Party MPs and a Chinese businessman who has been assessed as a national security risk by Australia’s top spy agency. An ABC investigation revealed Melbourne-based businessman Huifeng “Haha” Liu is fighting deportation after his application for permanent residency was rejected…

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has demanded the Morrison government investigate alleged connections between two Liberal Party MPs and a Chinese businessman who has been assessed as a national security risk by Australia’s top spy agency.

An ABC investigation revealed Melbourne-based businessman Huifeng “Haha” Liu is fighting deportation after his application for permanent residency was rejected on character grounds.

Mr Liu is a Liberal Party donor who has links to Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar and backbench MP Gladys Liu, the ABC reported.

He has been pictured with both MPs.

On Monday Mr Albanese called on the government to take the matter “seriously” and investigate the allegations.

“The Liberal Party needs to explain the connections which are clearly there and why it was that a senior minister of the Crown seems to have a relationship with this gentleman,” Mr Albanese said.

“Michael Sukkar is a rolling problem for the government.

“Scott Morrison has done nothing about it, absolutely nothing.”

Mr Sukkar last year asked the Department of Finance to investigate allegations he benefited from branch stacking in the Victorian Liberal Party.

He consistently denied the allegations and was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Mr Albanese said he had “no idea” if Mr Liu had donated to state or federal branches of the Labor Party.

“I’ve never heard of him, frankly, before recent times. I’m certainly not an acquaintance of him.”

Mr Liu is also the president of Australian Emergency Assistance Association Incorporated (AEAAI), an online neighbourhood watch group providing assistance to Chinese speakers in emergency situations.

Liberal MP Gladys Liu, in a statement, confirmed she knew Mr Liu in his capacity as president of AEAAI and had visited the group.

“Outside of this we have no relationship,” Ms Liu said.

“I have never received any financial support from Mr Liu.”

Ms Liu said she had not been aware of the “concerning” allegations against him, which should be “thoroughly investigated”.

“I will never support a person or organisation that does not have Australia’s best interests at heart,” she said.

Independent Senator Rex Patrick said in the absence of federal and state MPs being required to register for a foreign influence transparency scheme, both Mr Sukkar and Ms Liu should make fulsome statements to the parliament about the nature of their alleged connection with Mr Liu.

“They should explain what the relationship is, if any commitments were made and what were the nature of those commitments,” Senator Patrick said

“This sort of activity needs to be transparent.”

Mr Sukkar did not respond to a request for comment.

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