Prime Minister Scott Morrison has attacked Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for signing a secret deal with China over a controversial infrastructure initiative, while it has been revealed today that a staffer in Premier Andrews’s office has been linked to China’s United Front organisation, which co-ordinates Beijing’s overseas influence operations.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has been calling on the Morrison government for months to hold a royal commission into Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia but that call has fallen on deaf ears.
The Australian reports, the criticism comes amid growing criticism of the Victoria Premier’s decision to sign up to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Mr Andrews’s adviser Marty Mei was named a “special consultant” to the Shenzhen Association of Australia, which is part of a network of organisations in Australia that is guided by the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.
The association was opened in November 2016 by a senior Communist Party official, Ma Yongzhi, who is vice-minister of the United Front Work Department of Shenzhen.
Mr Andrews and Chinese ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye finalised a memorandum of understanding on China's One Belt One Road policy last month, making Victoria the first and only Australian state to support President Xi Jinping's global trade initiative.
Interviewed on Sydney radio station 2GB yesterday, Mr Morrison said the deal came as a surprise to him.
"Foreign policy is the domain of the Commonwealth Government," Mr Morrison said.
"When these things happen then that creates mixed messages," Mr Morrison said Mr Andrews should make the deal public.
"He should be upfront with the Victorian electors, I mean, he's in the middle of an election at the moment," he said.
Under the massive plan first unveiled in 2013, China wants to revive an ancient network of land and ocean silk trade routes and has already spent billions of dollars on new infrastructure projects for roads, railways, ports and maritime corridors.
So far, 68 countries including New Zealand have signed up to the signature project of President Xi Jinping, which marks his nation's plans to expand its power in the region and beyond.
Even Premier Andrews' federal Labor colleagues have slammed him for signing the secret deal with one MP saying, "Everyone knows that Andrews has messed up law and order in Victoria. He can’t now be allowed to mess up national security as well.”
Another Labor MP said it was disappointing the Andrews government had decided to ignore federal party policy, given China’s human rights violations, disregard for the global rules-based order and predatory lending practices in developing countries.
Senator Bernardi has told Sydney radio station 2CH's Kel Richards, the failure of the Morrison government to call a royal commission into Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia is of growing concern.
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