DONATION QUESTIONS FOR ABBOTT
Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s office reportedly helped Australian-based Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo donate to the Liberal Party in mid-2016, despite Abbott having been warned by ASIO about the billionaire donor’s links to the Chinese Communist Party.
A Fairfax exclusive claims Abbott’s office played a role in Huang’s decision to give thousands of dollars to at least one Liberal candidate ahead of the 2016 election.
“Mr Abbott is aware that Mr Huang sought to donate to the Liberal Party and understands he was encouraged to do so in accordance with AEC rules,” a spokesperson for Abbott says. “Specific donations are a matter for the relevant division of the Liberal Party.”
The spokesperson denies that Abbott had advised Huang to donate to any specific electorate campaign, confirming only that Huang lived in Abbott’s electorate and the two had met “on a couple of occasions”. But Fairfax sources claim that Abbott’s office directly contacted at least one local team of Liberal campaigners to discuss Huang’s donations offer.
Huang, who has previously denied any alleged misconduct or involvement in Chinese Communist Party activities, was described as an “agent of a foreign country” by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at the height of the foreign intervention scandal that ultimately brought down former Labor senator Sam Dastyari last year.
KEENAN IN CASH’S HOT SEAT
A journalist has claimed that someone in then-justice minister Michael Keenan’s office tipped off their TV newsroom an hour or so before the Australian Federal Police raided the Australian Workers’ Union last year, in allegations that mirror the actions of a disgraced Michaelia Cash staffer before the same raids.
Speaking anonymously to BuzzFeed News, the reporter claims that someone specifically identifying themselves from Keenan’s office called the newsroom with the time and location of the AFP’s raids on the AWU’s Sydney and Melbourne offices.
A spokesperson for Keenan has said: “Neither the minister or anyone in his office informed media outlets prior to the execution of search warrants”. As justice minister at the time, Keenan was in charge of the AFP and has confirmed he was briefed ahead of the raids.
Cash, whose former senior media adviser resigned after BuzzFeed also revealed he tipped off at least two media organisations, also came under fire yesterday for threats in Senate estimates to name young women she had heard “rumours” about in opposition leader Bill Shorten’s office.
Cash was due to appear again in last night’s estimates following a break but, after BuzzFeed put in media requests for the Keenan allegations, reportedly left for a “meeting” and did not return.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
“I’ve been labelled homophobic… well, if homophobic can be taken as an intense fear of homosexuals then that’s fine, call me homophobic.”
— former-Daily Advertiser editor and current Deputy Prime Minister of Australia Michael McCormack, circa 1992-3. New, deeply offensive editorials from McCormack’s editorial tenor have been unearthed by The Daily Telegraph ($). The new Nationals leader and Deputy PM has addressed the statements and described them as unrepresentative of his current views.
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Canberra: Senate estimates for foreign affairs, treasury, innovation/jobs, education and social services; Question Time at 2pm.
Canberra: Inquiries into the quality of care in residential aged care facilities in Australia; and Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) reform.
Perth: Public hearing of the Joint Select Committee inquiry examining law around euthanasia in WA.
Sydney: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives in Sydney ahead of a Friday morning meeting with Malcolm Turnbull.
Michaelia Cash threat: naming names — how ugly — Caroline Overington (The Australian $): “If you’ve ever been a young woman in the workforce, you’ll know that rumours about your sex life — vile gossip about how you got your job, or your promotion, how you’re getting ahead, what a little slut you are — comes with the territory. It’s snide, it’s ugly, it’s rooted in misogyny. It’s designed to hobble young women before they get started, to smear their names, to make them feel anxious, and ultimately to destroy them before they can get a foothold, or go much further.”
Beware fanning flames of racism over ‘silent invasion’ fears — Tim Soutphommasane (Sydney Morning Herald): “In our liberal democracy, there should – and there must – be debate about matters affecting the integrity of our democracy and the sovereignty of our nation-state. But there must be responsibility exercised in public debate. It is a dangerous thing to invite hysteria. It is doubly dangerous to invite anxiety about the Chinese party-state that may shift into animosity towards people with Chinese heritage.”
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
Is the Lambie Network headed to the slaughter? — Guy Rundle: “Lambie has thrown her support behind Premier Will Hodgman and the Liberal Party, a move that would appear to put an end to the former senator’s image as an even-handed player who would take each issue on its merits. But Crikey believes that all signs point to Lambie having given up on running as a true independent days or even weeks ago, as her sprawling Jacqui Lambie Network campaign was all but decommissioned at the end of last week.”
The reluctant revolutionaries of Australian music’s #MeToo moment — Meg Watson: “Camp Cope’s music has recently been coined ‘raw, feminist rock for the #MeToo era’, but it’s certainly not a simple response to the hashtag. Thompson, along with bandmates Georgia Maq and Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich, has been busting out electrifying, empathetic and distinctively no-bullshit songs since 2016. Though their lyrics are often rooted in everyday mundanity, they frequently also speak to big (yet similarly common) issues like victim blaming, being gaslit or undermined, and sexual assault.”
ABC laments Alberici’s errors, but doesn’t know what they are — Bernard Keane: “In the annals of ABC’s estimates appearances — from the glory days of David Hill going toe-to-toe with Bronwyn Bishop in the early hours of the morning, through John Faulkner putting Jonathan Shier under the microscope to Eric Abetz devoting hours to accusing the ABC of bias, murder, war crimes, genocide etc — there’s rarely been a less glorious performance from an ABC executive than from one-time journalist Alan Sunderland last night.”
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