After the 2004 election, AustChina began a dedicated attempt to woo prominent ALP members.

It began shortly after the 2004 election when Kevin Rudd travelled to China at the expense of Chinese businessman Zhou Zerong, but had some of his travel expenses paid for by the Shimao Group and Austchina founder Ian Tang. Wayne Swan went on the same trip and had the same people pay his expenses.

Tang also paid for Rudd to attend the Boao Forum in April 2005, and in June-July 2006, AustChina paid for Rudd’s trip to the US, UK, China and, less salubriously, Darfur.

Tony Burke and Stephen Smith also went to China in March-April 2005, paid for by Zhou Zerong and the Guanzhou Chamber of Commerce. During that trip, Smith met with AustChina representatives, who presented him a tea set.

AustChina also paid for Burke and an adviser to visit China in October 2005, at the same time as Rudd was there as a guest of the Kingold Group. Now-former WA Labor MP Kim Wilkie was also there, at AustChina’s expense.

Burke joined Rudd in China in July 2006, again as a guest of AustChina. A month later, he went to Manila, Beijing, and Hong Kong with AustChina picking up the tab for the Chinese legs of the trip. Wayne Swan joined Burke in Beijing and Hong Kong – at the expense of, you guessed it, AustChina.

In April 2007 it was Burke’s turn to go to the Boao Forum, courtesy of his AustChina friends. And only a couple of months later, in July 2007, he went to Hong Kong and Beijing. So did Wayne Swan. And this time, Queensland MP Bernie Ripoll went along too.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey