Peking Duck or “Puppet on a String”?

In this extraordinary chapter in Australian politics Prime Minister Kevin Rudd continues to downplay his long standing relations with his “Chinese Controller” recently heard bragging of his success at paving his way into Canberra’s corridors of power. Never before has the planned agenda of an aspiring PM been splashed so colorfully across the Australian and World media. As Rudd dodges the all important questions, evidence builds that we may be facing a constitutional crisis, despite the fact the Australian Constitution says very little, as such, about the role of Prime Minister. Nevertheless when ordinary Australians are ignored in favor of questionable tycoons the future of democracy in Australia faces a serious dilemma.

So where are we at with the ‘AustChina Affair’ and what information needs to come forth from the PM to unravel the mysteries of the ‘Chinese Controller’ and good friend of most Australian political parties? Looking at the facts and the key players that have been dangling from the Beijing strings, the media and the parliament have some way to go. Crikey.com recently makes the intriguing claim that AustChina and its infiltration of Australian politics is not ‘impropriety’…

Impropriety: “the quality or condition of being improper; incorrectness. “

…if Crikey can explain what is correct or proper about Australian politicians secretly peddling influence to gain power within a democracy and then failing to declare the true nature of the connections then Crikey! …what can one say about Crikey’s judgement call that corruption within Australian politics is not incorrect?

Here are some questions for Mr Rudd arising so far from the AustChina Affair are:

  • Why so soon after your pledge to curb the improper influence of lobbyists are you failing to come clean on your own lobbyist connections and why did you make such a statement of intent in the first place?
  • In meeting so soon with your ‘Chinese Controller’ after your election win, why did you downplay the significance of this individual to the media when the facts reveal the connection is neither ‘personal’ or ‘insignificant’. In relation to the favours provided by AustChina what favours in return have been promised to Ian Tang, AustChina, and associated individuals including Stanley Ho?
  • What is the purpose behind the register of pecuniary interests? Is it to justify the receipt of goods and services which seem to be based upon currying favours? Is it right to institutionalise the lobbying business via such a mechanism? Given the perception that politicians are unduly influenced by vested groups and given the current scandal are you prepared to legislate in favour of simply not having pecuniary interests to restore public faith in the political process?
  • The use of ‘blind trusts’ is another technique by which politicians can legally maintain conflicts of interests. Are you willing to accept that within ‘blind trusts’ conflicts of interest of a hidden nature reside which contribute the same diminishing effect on honest politics? If the answer is yes, are you now prepared to legislate to prevent the inevitable conflicts of interests within the maintenance of ‘blind trusts’?
  • And with regard non-pecuniary interests and a priori pecuniary interests are you prepared to establish a system whereby such influences are made available for public scrutiny?
  • The money trail. As Prime Minister you make the admission that you were not ‘fully across what Ian Tang does’ yet you and your colleagues have accepted financial sponsorship, airfares and entertainment from a shadowy $1 shelf company? Why were you accepting of funds and services from an individual you apparently knew little about? Do you recommend this as a modus operandi for ministers within your cabinet, elected officials in general, or members of the opposition?
  • The media is now accepting and reporting AustChina is a sham company and the website appears to either be a sham or poor judgement. Were you made aware or did you know that military technology companies were being portrayed as supply partners of AustChina? Do you regard this as a breach of Australia’s domestic security? Now that the perception has been raised and Longreach mentioned what is the exact nature of Australia’s trade of military intelligence with China? Can you elaborate if you helped establish any such links in your embassy duties in China or in trips to China during your time as an elected official of the Australian parliament?
  • We now learn that National Party influence (John Anderson) assisted Ian Tang to the tune of $25m! Were you aware that Ian Tang was provided these funds and will you explain the basis upon which these funds were made available to Ian Tang given that he is an unknown in the telecommunications industry and an associate of Stanley Ho. Can you confirm if Ian Tangs generosity was in turn taxpayer funded via the now reported offering from John Anderson. Everybody’s Business – Canberra Times
  • How do you justify the receipt of financial benefits from those in close association with a gambling/casino magnate Stanley Ho. You state your abhorrence of gambling and the associated lifestyle yet you are prepared to villify the youth of Australia in your rather expensive ‘binge drinking campaign’? Would you agree or disagree that when a Prime Minister demonstrates double standards it lowers the tone of politics in Australia and raises valid questions about your intent?
  • If you were not ‘across’ what Ian Tang was doing how did you justify attending and speaking at the launch of the Beijing Friendship Store? Did you speak to Austrade officials at the event and were they ‘across’ the activities of Ian Tang? And what was the purpose in peddling influence at this time when you were part of the shadow ministry of the ALP?
  • With regard the AustChina sponsored trip to the Sudan it seems incredible to believe AustChina’s statement that Maggie Zhen was misquoted in her statement that you were a guest of AustChina on that trip. Now, given Ian Tang’s self proclaimed affiliation with the Chinese Military and given that Longreach has not denied any affiliation with AustChina…why were you there? It would seem a long way to go to give the downtrodden people of Darfur a goat when surely with your proximity to the ‘Chinese Controller’ you could have raised the issue of human rights abuses, given your longstanding affililation with China? Or put in terms of Crikey.com… “were you doing AustChina’s bidding in Darfur?”

Given that you have avoided answering these questions in parliament please feel free to answer these questions using the comment feature below.

Another issue arising from the AustChina affair already mentioned is noticeably poor ABC coverage and very light questioning of Kevin Rudd when the opportunity has arisen. The very point was raised with ABC Media Watch in the hope they may have the courage to shine the media spotlight on themselves but surprisingly Media Watch only had this to say:

You’re free to write what you like, of course, but I’m not sure you’d be
justified in claiming that Media Watch is failing in its duty to watch
the ABC by failing (at this point) to prosecute your view that there’s a
gap in the ABC’s coverage of a particular issue. These judgements are
news judgements and are invariably somewhat subjective, different media
outlets adopt a different approach to different stories.

The China issue is a developing and interesting story — as a former
editor of Crikey I’ve been reading it every day with intrest. For the
most part it has been developing incrementally and I’m not convinced
there has been a significant gap in the ABC’s coverage of it. If it
emerged that there is such a problem there is no reason at all why we
woudn’t tackle it. Obviously you’ve formed a view this is indeed the
case, but i’m yet to be convinced.

“Developing and Interesting’ indeed but not worthy of research and reportage by the ABC? Its become apparent that the ABC has become a news follower rather than a news gatherer and a viewing of Media Watch reveals that it now swims in the safe waters of the gutter press rather than tackling any media gaps representing anything of national significance. Its a far cry from the rigorous media examination provided by David Marr and a great shame that Aunty has become so timid when such a role is seriously required of the national broadcaster. Despite the failure of the ABC the AustChina Affair is far from over and the invisible strings of the ‘Chinese Controller’ still dangle dangerously over Australian Democracy.

Further media:

Picture opportunity PM didn’t want with Madam Fu Ying

PM met China’s security chief

Labor suffers from China syndrome

PM Kevin Rudd keeps Lodge talks with Chinese secret

Rudd to lobby (some more) for Beijing – The Australian March 23, 2009

Julie Bishop reminds us with this Hansard record, that Rudd can quickly change his stripes depending upon who is paying the bills:

In a 2005 speech, Mr Rudd said,

“The independent commission of inquiry, established in October 2004 under UN Security Council resolution 1564, concludes that the Sudanese government and its militias have conducted widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population of Darfur. While the report states that the Sudanese government’s abuses do not amount to genocide, it finds that their acts of barbarity include murder, rape and torture and could amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes. The report recommended that the Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for prosecution. Australia should support this recommendation and begin lobbying Security Council member countries to refer this matter to the ICC.”

(Hansard 14.2.05)

So why in the following year is Rudd accepting expensive champagne from a Chinese company with extensive military arms connections in said country (Sudan) and why did he accepted sponsored travel from said company to said country?

Casino billionaire bankrolls Labor –  Brendan Nicholson – The Age – February 3, 2009

“It beggars belief that Mr Rudd didn’t know about a donation of this size and clearly it was a back-door way of getting money into the federal campaign after they’d had to knock back the donation made directly,” Senator Ronaldson said.  “The whole deal simply doesn’t pass the sniff test.”

mbn_ho-200x0.jpg

What favours does the ALP now owe to Stanley Ho and China? Is it time yet for a Senate enquiry?

Tang’s largesse leaves a bitter taste – SMH – March 2008

Lu Kewen friend Beijing AustChina -More links to the state? (and…Ian Tang is Tang Yui) :

According to an ABR company search ,AustChina Information Technology Pty Ltd is a company whose shareholders are Phil Smith (4 shares @ $1 each) , and Tang Yui (6 shares @ $ 1 each).There are no charges recorded, and hence the company does not appear to have any borrowings.Hence, the company appears to be a corporate shell without the resources to conduct any form of business.

Tang Yui appears to be Ian Tang’s Chinese name. It is a matter of public record that Phil Smith is a shareholder in Beijing AustChina, fully aware of its political contributions(http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,23406496-421,00.html?from=public_rss). Phil Smith’s address in Warriewood is also the address of a fibre optic cable business, in which he is infrastrcuture manager(http://www.thehalogengroup.biz/memberdetails.php?id=32.

CONTRARY to what has been reported , Beijing AustChina or at least AustChina Information Technology Pty Ltd’s principal place of business is not a suburban home in Warriewood (see Andrew Robb quoted at http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2008/s2194621.htm). According to the ABR company search, AustChina Information Technology Pty Ltd’s registered office and principal place of business is Level 7, 68 Dixon St, Haymarket NSW 2000.

……..

Given the fact that AustChina Information Technology Pty Ltd is a corporate shell, it does appear as if the company was merely a conduit for the financial contributions made to political parties and politicians in Australia, including the current Prime Minister and Treasurer.
Given state ownership if not control over AustChina Information Technology Pty Ltd and related entities it is reasonable to conclude that the funds were provided by the Chinese Government, if not payed under its direction. This was common practise in Malaysia where the ruling UMNO owned and controlled a number of large and small corporate entities.

Recent Media:

Labor’s China Inc is starting to smell fishy – Glenn Milne | July 27, 2009 – The Australian

They don’t like the questions, of course. When I recently asked had the PM ever met Grant in China, I was initially told there would be no answer: “If you have a specific allegation, put it.” To which I politely pointed out that asking if Rudd had ever meet his Brisbane neighbour, fellow club member and political benefactor in China seemed reasonably specific to me.

How long Rudd and his ministers can maintain their stonewall on China Inc remains to be seen. But the depth of involvement and layers of contact run deep…….

“In terms of detail,” Rudd once said of Tang. “I’m not really across what he does.” Tang is a wholly owned subsidiary of Macau gaming figure Stanley Ho. Ho and his associated entities donated $900,000 to the Labor Party in the run-up to the previous election. A US Senate committee hearing named Ho as having “associates” who are “involved in organised crime”. And the US Library of Congress has cited Ho as having links to several illegal activities and the triad group Kong Lok.

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25838637-7583,00.html

( A fresh dose of quality journalism in what has been somewhat of a quality news drought, but as this hinges upon Australian Sovereignty, the implications are obviously immense for Australia’s autonomous future, so with such a mountain of evidence, when are the PM and related MP’s  going to step down?)