Australia

'We're sitting ducks': Jacqui Lambie warns of 'threat' of China's interference

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Jacqui Lambie has declared Australia is a "sitting duck" to Chinese foreign interference, saying our economy and democracy is exposed.

Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie has taken aim at the major political parties over Chinese foreign interference warning China is “actively trying to reshape our democracy”.

She made the impassioned speech on Tuesday night in response to calls to establish an inquiry into Australia’s relationship with China, led by Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick.

The senator accused the major parties of lacking the “courage” to confront growing concerns around foreign interference infiltrating Australia's politics.   

“Honestly where’s your courage? What are you scared of?” she told the Senate.

“This is not some wacky conspiracy theory. This is happening.”

Jacqui Lambie Network Senator Jacqui Lambie in Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, December 2, 2019. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING
Senator Jacqui Lambie in Senate chamber at Parliament House in Canberra.
AAP

She said both sides of politics needed to “take a good hard look at themselves” and make sure they’re acting in the national interest.

“This is an existential threat to our society, and Australians are scared,” she said.

“They’re scared that our country is being bought up. They’re scared that their democracy may no longer represent them.”

The motion to establish an inquiry does not have the backing of the Coalition or Labor, meaning it failed to receive the support needed to go ahead.

Senator Lambie made clear her concerns were not directed at the “Australian-Chinese community”  - but cited a series of recent concerning reports.

Fears have been raised over an unprecedented threat of foreign interference in Australia including security agencies investigating an alleged plot to plant a Chinese spy in Australia’s Parliament.

Senator Lambie expressed her alarm over a lack of security checks aimed at addressing such concerns.

“There are no security checks. There's little to stop it from happening. It's absolutely beyond shocking. We're sitting ducks here,” she said.

Former ASIO boss Duncan Lewis has warned of a “take over” of Australia’s political system through “insidious” foreign interference operations.

Senator Lambie also cited investigations into a Chinese billionaire donor Huang Xiangmo handing an Aldi bag full of $100,000 in cash to the New South Wales Labor Party.

“They’re not just trying to influence politicians with money; they’re trying to get elected to sit in this chamber,” she said.

“Where they can buy or get seats in the Australian parliament, they’re coming.”

She said major political parties have failed to manage Australia’s economic dependence with its major trading partner.

“We're selling off Australian values for a quick buck,” she said.

“A third of Australian exports are China-bound. We ship out more than $120 billion in iron ore and coal exports to China and our universities—shame on them!—rake in over $32 billion from international students.

"Let's get the ball rolling on this. Until we do, we're leaving our economy and our democracy exposed."

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