Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has been caught out getting lunch with a Chinese billionaire whose Australian citizenship application was rejected because of his ties to the Communist Party of China.
A joint investigation from the ABC, the Sydney Morning Herald, and The Age, has found that the incredibly wealthy Huang Xiangmo paid “tens of thousands of dollars” to secure himself a one-on-one chat with Dutton, all while campaigning heavily to get Australian citizenship for himself and his family.
The investigation found former Liberal minister Santo Santoro acted as a fixer for Huang, organising the meeting with Dutton at a Chinese restaurant in 2016. Both Dutton and Santoro deny that citizenship was discussed at all.
Recordings were even uncovered that showed Santoro calling Dutton one of his “best friends” as he assured Huang he could get him access to Dutton for the right price.
Huang’s application for citizenship was eventually rejected by ASIO due to his reported links to the Communist Party of China, however his wife and two children were given citizenship after Dutton gave then-Labor senator Sam Dastyari permission to conduct the ceremony for them in private.
Dutton has denied any wrongdoing and refused to answer questions, but that hasn’t stopped former PM Malcolm Turnbull from getting involved. God he’s a rich, harbourside mansion-living rascal!
At an event on Tuesday morning Turnbull said current Prime Minister Scott Morrison could not wave this off as gossip.
“This is the national security of Australia,” he said.
“This has to be addressed at the highest level of security, priority, and urgency by the Prime Minister.”
During his time as Prime Minister, Turnbull overhauled Australia’s intelligence and espionage laws as concerns grew over the level of influence Chinese government agents had in the country.
Look, Peter Dutton has got a lot to explain about this. He is supposed to be the minister responsible for the domestic security of Australia, he is supposed to be the minister responsible for ensuring our politics is not influenced by foreign actors… It does raise a lot of questions by Peter Dutton is the only one who can answer it
I think it is very, very concerning and very troubling for anyone.
The Coalition didn’t exactly cover itself in glory for the remainder of the day either. Liberal National Party senator Ian Macdonald mispronounced Haung’s name in the committee this morning as “Wong”, before asking Labor Shadow Foreign Minister Penny Wong if she was related. Nice one buddy!
Macdonald, refusing to give in to Labor pressure, offered up this lovely, heartfelt apology: “If Senator Wong has taken offence then I apologise to her, but if she does take offence she had very thin skin.”
Great, dude! Nailed it!
Former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari was the one involved in getting citizenship for Huang’s family, but said it was “ludicrous” to suggest Dutton had helped him out as a favour.
Regardless of what you think of him, his statement on the matter is fairly succinct.
I resigned for less. https://t.co/qE6X5HPl3T— Sam Dastyari (@samdastyari) April 8, 2019
Anyway, today was fun, and the election still hasn’t been called!
I’m having a great time!