The Tasmanian Greens want the establishment of a Select Committee on foreign investment and influence.
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Adjournment - George Town Airport Sale
Parliamentary Activity - Wednesday, 25 September 2019
Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Deputy Speaker, the George Town Council has decided to sell George Town Airport. There are reports in the Fairfax papers today and the George Town Transport Association spokesperson was on Leon Compton's program this morning. Eugene Reid, Airport Manager and President of the George Town Airport Association and now we understand that one of the potential buyers is a Chinese company which was established according to ASIC on 6 April this year. The company which has its director and secretary, Jin Jiang Hua, is based in Wonga Park, Victoria, but it has a shop front, as I understand it, in George Town.
These purchases of infrastructure such as airports and ports are becoming something of a trend. We have a proposal that is before the Tasmanian Government which the Greens raised last year where a Chinese airline is negotiating to set up a flight school at Devonport Airport. Now we have a Chinese company that wants to buy George Town Airport. Of course there is a massive airport proposal for the former Tamworth Military Base between Virgin Airlines which is 42 per cent Chinese owned and other partners which have only been revealed as a result of the investigative journalism of Anthony Klan.
The reason I raise this matter is because we are concerned about Chinese companies operating in Tasmania that are subject to Article 7 of the Chinese Intelligence Law. Before Dr Broad gets up here and does what he does, I want to point out to the House that between 2018 and 2019, the Tasmanian Government's Office of the Coordinator General hosted four meetings from Chinese aviation officials - all of which are deemed commercial-in-confidence. We have had, for example, on 27 April this year- in fact only three weeks after the company which wants to buy George Town Airport was formed - two in a delegation. There were five in a delegation from China on 18 March through to 20 March. Another five in a delegation from 13 December last year. Another four on 29 November last year. All of these delegations and meetings were related to aviation and all were organised by the Office of the Coordinator-General.
For members in this place who choose not to educate themselves about some of the national security issues that arise, I go to now the National Intelligence Law of the People's Republic of China. It was adopted on 27 June 2017 and it came into force the next day. Article 7 has received much attention particularly in relation to Telecom Huawei, which operates in many countries, including Australia. Article 7 of the Chinese government's national intelligence law reads thus -
Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep the secrets of the national intelligence work known to the public.
The State protects individuals and organizations that support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work.
The National Intelligence Law has extraterritorial ramifications. It binds every Chinese company and every Chinese citizen, no matter where they are in the world, to abide by article 7 of the National Intelligence Law, which requires them to provide information and to work with the Chinese Government on intelligence-related matters. A Chinese Government spokesperson has argued that the western analysis of article 7 of that law is flawed because it ignores article 8, which reads -
National intelligence work shall be carried out in accordance with the law, respecting and safeguarding human rights, and safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of individuals and organizations.
This provides little comfort. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China provides for a number of human rights on which it has demonstrably failed to deliver and breaches every single day. The constitution includes such protections as -
Article 4. All nationalities in the People's Republic of China are equal.
The people of all nationalities have the freedom to … preserve or reform their own ways and customs.
I am sure the people of Uighur faith, the Tibetans and people of Hong Kong would believe that the Chinese Government is not abiding by that provision. Article 36 of the Chinese constitution that, by the way, describes China as a democratic dictatorship, says -
Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief. No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not to believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion.
As we speak, there are people - Uighur Muslims, Hui Muslims, Christians, Falun Gong practitioners - being locked up, persecuted and punished by the Chinese Government.
We raise these matters in this place because it is time the Tasmanian Parliament, the major parties in this parliament woke up to what is happening here. We have the Dan Andrews Government signing up to the Belt and Road Initiative, which is Xi Jinping's landmark colonial attempt, basically, to take over the world. The Port of Melbourne is now part of the Belt and Road Initiative.
We need to understand, when we have the Office of the Coordinator-General running numerous trips to China, inviting numerous Chinese companies to invest here, that those Chinese companies are bound by article 7 of the national intelligence law. Foreign investment is very important to Tasmania but we must accept it with open eyes. We would argue that any company that is wholly or partially owned by the Government of China should be treated very warily by the Tasmanian Government and all its agencies, including the Office of the Coordinator-General.