For sheer hypocrisy, Tony Burke’s attack on Mark Vaile’s moonlighting last week was right up there. After all, Burke himself had been a recipient of corporate-sponsored travel, albeit from a far more controversial source.
Crikey doesn’t often agree with Andrew Bolt, but he was spot on with the following yesterday:
They should get back to work, jeered Rudd’s Agriculture Minister, Tony Burke. We need rules about MPs earning cash on the side, lectured Rudd. Hear, hear, the pack gloated.
Excuse me. You want to see an MP earning money on the side? Look no further than Rudd, who earned almost $130,000 during his first three years in Parliament, helping businesses wanting to set up in China.
An MP skipping Parliament to please rich patrons? Look again no further than Rudd, who went on a trip financed by the Beijing AustChina Technology company in 2006, missing not one but several Question Times.
Where the jeers of “bludgers” then? The media holds the Liberals to harsh standards it never imposed on Labor.
Alas, Bolt and the rest of the media have missed the really big story – joining the dots between these Chinese junkets, big Labor donations, property developers and a colourful Asian casino mogul.
Let’s start with exactly what is Beijing AustChina Technology, this mysterious company which Christian Kerr revealed in The Australian last week paid for Rudd, Wayne Swan and the hypocritical Tony Burke to take seven business class trips, mostly to China, over the past four years.
Veteran telecom industry players claim never to have heard of Beijing AustChina Technology. The company’s website trumpets that it acts as an agent for a few telco equipment companies but this press report suggests annual turnover is a rather meager $6 million.
The business address appears to lead to a residential address in Warriewood, North Sydney, and they are a $1 company.
However, company founder Ian Tang, who personally chaperoned Rudd and Swan on one China trip in 2004, now turns out to be pushing a $1.3 billion property development backed by Stanley Ho. Ho, of course, is the colourful entrepreneur who controlled Macau’s casinos for decades and handed control to his son Lawrence a couple of years back rather than face probity tests in Australia when the family joined forces with the Packers to create Melco.
NSW Labor has long been up close and personal with gambling, developer and Packer interests, so it should come as no surprise that Morris Iemma lauded Ian Tang when appointing him an honorary Sydney ambassador.
Such an honour followed the rather generous $258,000 in donations to the NSW ALP by Beijing Austchina Technology, payments which coincided with this period of sponsored travel.
The company’s switch to property development isn’t just a recent thing either. The AustChina group undertook to raise $100 million for a Hong Kong company Pricerite for Chinese commercial developments back in 2005.
Given the Wollongong council fiasco, the opposition should be onto a goldmine exploring sleazy Labor donations. This one goes straight back to the Treasurer and PM, just as Rudd is considering banning all foreign political donations.
Instead, yesterday we had the spectacle of Big Joe attempting to mount an attack in Question Time over dental funding and Millionaire Malcolm calling for a hard-ball Treasury stand on the minimum wage decision.
Lads, we’ve give you the good oil right here. Show us what you’re made of by taking it somewhere in Question Time today. The colourful connections are everywhere. We just need Brian Burke and Hawker Britten in there somewhere.