Australia

Bowen defends $100k donation by Chinese group reportedly linked to Communist Party

0:00

Chris Bowen has defended a $100,000 donation he received from a Chinese group reportedly linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

Labor’s federal health spokesman Chris Bowen has defended a $100,000 donation he received in 2013 from a Chinese group reportedly linked to the Chinese Communist Party. 

The donation was allegedly made by Sydney businessman and Chinese community leader Frank Chou from the Australian Chinese Teo Chew Association. 

Internal ALP invoices, obtained by the ABC, show the payment was donated to Mr Bowen’s re-election campaign in the federal seat of McMahon that year.

They also reveal a $5000 payment was reportedly made to NSW Labor leader candidate Chris Minns, as part of the six-figure donation, to help with ‘moving expenses’ to return to Australia to become Mr Bowen’s campaign manager.

$100k donation
Supplied/ABC

Mr Minns was living in the US and studying at Princeton University at the time.

In a statement to SBS News, Mr Bowen said the donation was fully declared in accordance with the law and that it was agreed Mr Minns would run the McMahon campaign on his return.

“I knew that he would be remunerated by the Party office in accordance with guidelines and procedures both then and now. Chris worked very hard on the campaign and was important in its success,” he said.

“My understanding is the donation was fully declared in accordance with the law.”

A spokesperson for Mr Minns said he was engaged as a salaried employee of the NSW Labor Party and to his knowledge ‘his wages, and any associated expenses, were paid through the normal NSW ALP employment and expense channels.’

“In 2013, Mr Minns had no involvement in or direct knowledge of Labor Party Fundraising activity. Therefore Mr Minns cannot comment on matters on which he has no knowledge, and no involvement, “ the spokesperson said.

$5k donation
Supplied/ABC

But federal energy minister Angus Taylor said the payment was never declared as a donation.

“In fact, it was declared as other revenue and so there are serious questions to answer here,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“First of all, as other revenue that had to be paid as other services and goods, what services and goods did that $100,000 payment acquire?” he said.

“Was Chris Bowen aware of the $5000 payment for moving expenses for Chris Minns, was he aware of the $100,000 and where it originated from – these are serious questions that Chris Bowen needs to answer.”

Mr Minns is running against fellow Labor MP Jodi McKay as a candidate for the NSW leadership, promising a new approach on climate change and regional communities.

The results of the leadership ballot will be known later this month.

According to the ABC, the donation and payment were discussed internally by the Labor Party but remained confidential for six years until the invoices were recently obtained.

Mr Bowen’s federal seat of McMahon, in Sydney’s west, has a large Chinese-speaking population and he has attended numerous events involving the Chinese community.

He has also received gifts from prominent leaders, including Huang Xiangmo, a Chinese billionaire now banned from Australia on security advise over his Communist Party ties.

Two months prior to the donation, Mr Bowen declared he received a bottle of 2002 Penfolds Grange from Mr Huang worth in excess of $300. 

wine donation
Supplied/Registrar of Member’s Interests

Mr Huang has donated millions to both major political parties in Australia and has been photographed with the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and former Labor leader Bill Shorten.

The Australian Chinese Teo Chew Association was approached for comment. 

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch