Australia

Labor rejects racist 'smear' claims as Gladys Liu faces fresh donations scrutiny

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Labor leader Anthony Albanese has rejected assertions race is behind its questions over embattled MP Gladys Liu as she faces fresh scrutiny.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says race has nothing to do with his party's criticism of Liberal MP Gladys Liu's handling of her China connections, as the embattled MP confronts new questions over political donations.

The Chisolm MP is facing fresh scrutiny after the Herald Sun reported she failed to declare a $39,675 donation to the Victorian Liberal Party three years ago.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has labelled criticism of Ms Liu’s alleged ties to Chinese government-linked organisations as a “smear on Chinese Australians".

But speaking from New Zealand, the opposition leader repeated Labor's demand Ms Liu explain herself in Parliament and rejected claims of racism.

Questions continue to be raised over Liberal MP Gladys Liu's links with some Chinese organisations.
Questions continue to be raised over Liberal MP Gladys Liu's links with some Chinese organisations.
AAP

“It has nothing to do with race and the only person who has raised race in these issues is, of course, Prime Minister Morrison,” Mr Albanese said.

The claim that I worked or volunteered for the Chinese Consulate is completely false.

— Gladys Liu (@GladysLiuMP) September 12, 2019

“What the motivation is here is to ensure that there is accountability for people’s actions.”

Ms Liu has come under intense scrutiny after failing to recall if she was a member of two Chinese government-linked groups on Sky News on Tuesday night, before later admitting involvement.

She also struggled to answer questions about Chinese President Xi Jinping and the South China Sea during the interview.

Fresh political scrutiny over donations

It comes as fresh allegations emerge that Ms Liu failed to declare an almost $40,000 donation to the Liberal Party’s Victorian branch, and waited almost three years before declaring another $25,000 contribution.

Victorian Liberal Party’s annual return to the Australian Electoral Commission shows the $39,675 donation from Ms Liu made in 2015-16.

Liberal member for Chisholm Gladys Liu reacts during House of Representatives Question Time on Thursday.

Embattled MP defended

When questioned over Ms Liu's ongoing controversy by Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles - Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton insisted there was no "smoking gun" or national security concerns.

“If the prime minister or I had concerns about Gladys Liu, we wouldn’t be backing her the way we are,” Mr Dutton told the Channel Nine’sToday Show.

Mr Morrison has also backed his MP.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

“It is a ridiculous suggestion and I think it is an insult to every single Chinese-Australian in the country,” he told reporters in Parliament on Thursday.

“She gave a clumsy interview. Fair enough. She is her first term. I think she should be extended some comfort and support.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison  sits next to Liberal MP Gladys Liu

Her alleged connections to Chinese community groups, believed to be joined to the propaganda arm of the Chinese government, were first reported by the ABC.

It has also emerged that intelligence agencies warned former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull against attending a 2018 fundraiser with associates of Ms Liu.

Separately, there are reports security agencies warned the Liberal Party not to preselect her as a candidate.

The MP is yet to speak publicly on these matters. But hit back on social media on Thursday night tweeting "the claim that I worked or volunteered for the Chinese Consulate is completely false".

Ms Liu has admitted to being a past “honorary” member of the Guangdong branch of the Chinese Overseas Exchange Association – one of the groups alleged to have ties to China’s Communist Party.

Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
Australian Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
AAP

In a statement, she said she is a “proud Australian” and is conducting an audit of her membership of Chinese community groups.

When Mr Albanese was asked if Labour’s candidate in Ms Liu's seat of Chisholm, Jennifer Yang, could have held links to any communist party groups, he rejected the assertion.

“Labor’s candidate from the seat was Taiwanese,” he said.

”Go back and have a look at foreign policy and I think you’ll realise how silly that question is.”

With AAP

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