Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Suspension of Standing Orders - Member for Chisholm

16 September 2019

There are now very serious questions in the Liberal Party about the Member for Chisholm, and about the Prime Minister's extremely poor judgment in the way he has sought to dismiss these allegations by insisting that there's nothing to see, and then resorting to the race card when even his own party room abandoned him.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

SUSPENSION OF STANDING ORDERS - THE MEMBER FOR CHISHOLM

16 SEPTEMBER 2019

 

I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Isaacs from moving the following motion immediately

That the House:

  • notes the confirmation from the Speaker that only in respect to statements made in the House can Members be fully held to account for their words; and
  • therefore, calls on the Member for Chisholm to make a statement in the House at any time before 5pm, for a time not exceeding 20 minutes, which responds to:
  • allegations sourced from within the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party about the Members past and present associations and fundraising activities;
  • discrepancies between the media statement issued by the Prime Ministers Office on Wednesday, 11 September 2019, in the Members name, and both her statement of registrable interests and statements the Member made to the media just hours before the media statement was issued;
  • questions about the Prime Ministers knowledge of the Members past and present associations and fundraising activities; and
  • questions which have been raised concerning her fitness to be a Member of the Australian Parliament.

The Prime Minister and the Member for Chisholm have serious questions to answer, and no matter how desperate the Prime Minister gets with his smear campaigns, those questions will not go away.

This Prime Minister has shown himself to be very skilled at dodging questions he is frightened of. Its an on water matter so I wont answer. Its a bubble question so I wont answer. Its a question I answered yesterday so I wont answer, even when it turns out he never did answer that question the day before.

And now he's at it again he says he cant answer these important questions, this time its because hes claiming, in a display as cynically self-serving as it is dishonest, that anyone asking those questions about safeguarding our national security must be a racist.

I want to be very clear: the ONLY person linking these questions to the issue of race, and in the process smearing the entire Chinese-Australian community, and also people on his own side concerned about issues of national security, is this Prime Minister.

That same Prime Minister who, in 2017, on no fewer than 17 occasions, used the offensive slogan Shanghai Sam. The same Prime Minister who denied ever using the phrase, despite posting video of himself saying it to his own Twitter and Facebook accounts with the caption Shanghai Sam!

If harm is being done here, its being done by this desperate and wounded Prime Minister, as slippery as hes ever been, trying to blame everyone but himself.

And let's remind everyone here that it was not Labor that began this pursuit.

Labor did not make the Member for Chisholm go on Sky on Tuesday night and give a disastrous interview where she contradicted long-standing bipartisan policy on China and then repeatedly gave misleading answers about her knowledge of, and association with, a number of organisations.

It has been journalists and commentators, not Labor, who have been raising day after day, serious questions about the member for Chisholm.

So, is the Prime Minister saying that Andrew Bolt was being racist when he asked the member for Chisholm whether she agreed with Australia's long standing bipartisan national policy on the South China Sea?

Is the Prime Minister saying that it is racist to ask why the member for Chisholm falsely claimed to have nothing to do with a number of organisations that she never declared to her party, or this parliament, and which she now admits she was a senior member of?

Is the Prime Minister saying that journalists are racist for asking whether he, and other ministers, were told by security agencies not to attend fundraising activities organised by the Member for Chisholm?

Is the Prime Minister saying that Andrew Bolt is racist for posing a series of perfectly reasonable questions in the Herald-Sun newspaper just today? Questions such as:

  • Why did the Member for Chisholm first say she couldn't remember being a member of (the Guangdong chapter of the China Overseas Exchange Association) then deny it, and the next day, when she was caught out, finally admit it?
  • Why did the Member for Chisholm, in her application to be a Liberal candidate, list her membership of 17 community groups from the Box Hill Chess Club to Rotary but not her links to at least four organisations tied to China's United Front Work Department?
  • How did the Member for Chisholm, when not yet even a candidate, manage to raise more than $1 million for the Liberals?
  • Why did ASIO's boss reportedly warn then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull against going to a meeting the Member for Chisholm arranged with her donors?

Those are Andrew Bolt's questions in The Herald-Sun today.

If, as has been reported, our agencies did issue warnings about the Member for Chisholm, would that have been racist?

And now we find that even members of his own party are seriously questioning this Prime Ministers judgment on this important matter. Members of this Liberal Party who, unlike the Prime Minister, put our nations interests first.

In Thursday's West Australian we read this:

A handful of Liberal MPs last night told The West Australian they wanted a full probe into their colleague to ensure her loyalties were not divided between China and Australia.

My sense here is that there should have been concerns when she was being chosen to stand as a candidate and I believe those concerns were ignored, one MP said of the member for the Melbourne electorate of Chisholm. Her situation raises yet again the fault lines in the vetting processes and I think there should be a full investigation. Sooner or later we have to take off the rose-coloured glasses about what is happening.

Another MP said some within the party wanted a proper investigation for comfort, while one revealed it was safe to say there are concerns about her sitting in the party room.

Are those members of his own party, the Prime Ministers own party, quoted by the West Australian, racist?

As Peter Hartcher wrote in Saturdays Sydney Morning Herald:

To claim that any scrutiny of an ethnically Chinese person is racist is exactly the tactic of the Global Times and the other mouthpieces of the Chinese Communist Party. Morrison has done Beijing's work for it. It was a profound error, in the words of a senior Liberal, that makes it much harder to scrutinise potential agents of influence in future.

As these stories in the media make clear, there are now very serious questions in the Liberal Party about the Member for Chisholm, and about the Prime Minister's extremely poor judgment in the way he has sought to dismiss these allegations by insisting that there's nothing to see, and then resorting to the race card when even his own party room abandoned him.

It shows yet again that when asked to choose between the national interest and his political self-interest, this Prime Minister will put self-interest ahead of the national interest every time.

Every day this scandal deepens. Every day there are more revelations. Prime Minister, this is not going away and no amount of desperate smear will make it go away.

And let's be clear, it has not been the Australian Labor Party, it has not been the members of the crossbench in the House of Representatives, or the members of the crossbench in the Senate who have been raising these matters day after day. It has been various parts of the Australian media. Radio journalists, television journalists, print journalists, all raising questions which this Member for Chisholm and this Prime Minister are declining to answer.

The only way the Prime Minister can stop this is by making the Member for Chisholm come into the Parliament and make a full and frank explanation about which organisations she was a member of, when she was a member of these organisations, what her role was when she was a member of these organisations, why she denied being a member of those organisation and why she refused to back long standing bipartisan policy on China.

While she is about it, the Member for Chisholm should be making a statement as to who she raised money from, when she gave that money to the Liberal Party and how she gave money to the Liberal Party.

Because all of these questions are being raised by the Australian media, and none of these questions have yet been answered neither by the Member for Chisholm or by the Prime Minister, nor by anything that the Prime Minister or the Member for Chisholm have said in this place.

The Prime Minister also needs to stand up in this place and explain precisely what he knows about the Member for Chisholm's fundraising activities, precisely what he knows about the association and organisations that the Member for Chisholm was a member of, and what he and his cabinet have been told about associating with the Member for Chisholm, or associating with those the Member for Chisholm has raised money from.