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Foreign Influence

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 27 September 2018

Tags: Foreign Influence, Chinese Communist Party, ASIO

Ms O'CONNOR (Denison - Leader of the Greens) - Madam Speaker, we heard Dr Broad declare Labor's colours on the issue, not of foreign ownership. The issue we have been talking about is foreign influence. Dr Broad put up a straw man. That is what he did. He fell straight into the trap of backers of Beijing, which is to make sure there is no distinction made in the public debate between the country of China, the people of China and the Chinese government. We make that distinction. We are capable of making that distinction and it is a distinction. It is a disgusting slur to accuse us of returning to reds under the bed. 

It is also denial of the evidence put forward by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. It is denial that the Five Eyes alliance, the intelligence alliance of which we are a part, as is New Zealand, The United States, Britain and France, at a recent meeting security analysts who understand exactly what is going on discussed at length Xi Jinping's government's attempts to influence political and public life in those countries. As I understand it, it was the Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies that had the most to say. Dr Broad is making a complete jerk of himself. 

Mr Hidding - You can't say that. 

Ms O'CONNOR - I withdraw the word jerk and I use the word fool. 

Dr Broad - Informed, perhaps?

Ms O'CONNOR - The problem that you have with that list of countries that you rattled off is that almost without exception every one of those nations is a democracy. You do not understand the difference between foreign ownership where the country that owns property in Tasmania comes from a democracy, and foreign ownership where the company is controlled by law, by Chinese law. If a Beijing-based company -

Dr Broad - In the 1890s it was a monarchy and in the 1950s it was a communist country.

Ms O'CONNOR - No, you need to inform yourself better, Dr Broad. There are at least four statutes on the books in China that require Chinese businesses and Chinese citizens to comply with the intelligence imperatives and orders from the Chinese Government.

Dr Broad - It's a big conspiracy, they're invading Tasmania.

Ms O'CONNOR - You are being so recklessly irresponsible. You are the one who is making this about race. It is not an issue of race.

Dr Broad - What is it about? It is pretty transparent.

Ms O'CONNOR - It is about foreign influence and the fact that -

Madam SPEAKER - Order. I will not tolerate this slanging match going on, it is disgraceful. I would like you to take a chill pill, calm down and get back on with the proper debate.

Ms O'CONNOR - Thank you, Madam Speaker. What Dr Broad has wilfully not allowed himself to understand is the legal framework in China that requires Chinese businesses and citizens to comply with Chinese law, no matter where they are operating or living in the world. It is an extrajudicial power which the Chinese government has in place that means that businesses based in mainland China and Chinese citizens must comply with Chinese law no matter where they are in the world and they are required, if demanded, to provide information to the Chinese Government. It is the law in China.

I will come in here in the next sitting and detail those acts so that Dr Broad cannot come in and spout pig ignorance and make accusations about other members in this place which are not only false, but they are doing exactly the thing that members in this place are accusing us of. Dr Broad has made this about race. We never made it about race. We are very clear that this is about foreign influence. We have briefed ourselves, listened to experts of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the ANU Centre for Strategic and Defence Studies, what we have read from ASIO, what has been reported by SBS, the Weekend Australian, the Mercury, and what is being detailed by Professor Anne-Marie Brady from the University of Canterbury.

Dr Broad is being completely reckless, because to compare foreign ownership from businesses that are based in democracies where there is no extrajudicial reach on those businesses with businesses that are bound to comply with Chinese laws, no matter where they operate in the world, is dishonest. I would like Dr Broad to point us to where we have been talking about foreign ownership, which is an issue on a lot of people's tongues, by the way. The point we have been making in here is a necessary point about protecting Tasmania's democracy. Foreign ownership is a different matter from foreign influence. It is a matter that is in the public mind, but we have not gone there in this place, so he has ripped up a straw man in order to fan the flames. It is so dishonest to compare businesses based in other countries that are democratic nations with businesses that suffer under the oppressive rule of the CCP. 

It is a disgraceful effort on Dr Broad's part, but that is okay. We will be sending this Hansard to people with expertise in this area. We will be sending this Hansard to Chinese Tasmanians and Chinese Australians who are really worried about what is developing out of Beijing. We will send this Hansard of Dr Broad's specious and dishonest contribution. It builds a straw man and it is based on wilful ignorance of what the law is. Dr Broad should be ashamed of himself for making this about race when it is not.