Tuesday, 6 June 2017

ASIO central to China money expose

An ABC-Fairfax investigation has revealed that Chinese businessmen making donations to Australian political parties are trying to exert influence over the political process in Australia. The five-month-long investigation culminated in a 4 Corners program on Monday night in Australia. Two businessmen in particular - Chau Chak Wing and Huang Xiangmo - warrant attention by the journalists in developing the story. Both have close ties to the Communist Party in China, but since most big business in China is party-affiliated that is hardly surprising.

What is more interesting is that ASIO - Australia's internal security service - cooperated with investigators to such an extent that much of the information that goes to the heart of the issue is sourced from them. Without ASIO there would have been no story. As a result of the broadcast the prime minister has announced an investigation into political funding regulations. And perhaps this is what ASIO had needed and which pressed them to pursuing such a transparent result in the story's production. Perhaps they had for some time tried to get the government to pay attention to their concerns about Australia's sovereignty and, frustrated, had found that their appeals fell on deaf ears.

The resultant investigation has given us a fascinating view into the business of politics here and we can only hope that other journalists in this country continue to explore avenues opened up as a result of the broadcast. But it should be remembered that without ASIO's cooperation there would have been no story.

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