ABC TV Afternoon Briefing

SUBJECTS: Gladys Liu; National integrity commission.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TV INTERVIEW
ABC TV AFTERNOON BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER, 2019
 
SUBJECTS: Gladys Liu; National integrity commission.


PATRICA KARVELAS: Labor's legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus has asked Scott Morrison in the Parliament whether Ms Liu was right to say a story that $300,000 of donations associated with the function she ran had to be returned was made up, that's what she said to Andrew Bolt. Tony Smith, the Speaker, ruled the questions out of order. It did appear the Prime Minister was prepared to answer but they were ruled out of order. This was all being played out elaborately, I suppose and very theatrically in the Parliament today and I want to bring in Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to answer questions on all of this. Welcome.
 
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Thanks for having me.
 
KARVELAS: Gladys Liu is under fire for these ties to these organisations linked to high-levels of the Communist Party. Should her association with these groups disqualify her from serving in the Parliament?
 
DREYFUS: They certainly raise questions. The particular groups are connected to the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party which is known for its activities overseas. It’s extraordinary that last night she was saying that she wasn't a member, or she couldn't remember, and today she is saying without being prepared to go into the Parliament, that she is a member, or was a member, at some point.
 
The larger question here, Patricia, is what is the Prime Minister going to do about this? This is the same Scott Morrison that went to town on Sam Dastyari last year, saying that it was unpatriotic for him to not take the bipartisan position - that's the Liberal Party’s position and Labor Party position on the South China Sea - and Sam Dastyari had to resign. Now we have a newly elected Member of Parliament not prepared to back the bipartisan position on Chinese activities in the South China Sea. But this Prime Minister wants to do nothing about it.
 
It’s absolutely extraordinary. It is a test for Scott Morrison and he needs to start doing something, not simply ducking and evading, which is what he did in Question Time.
 
KARVELAS: Let's go to that point you just made, because the Prime Minister added some qualifications on why the Sam Dastyari case was different in Question Time. He said he took money, that's one difference, and the other is that he was in the executive, and he was on the front bench for Labor. Of course Gladys Liu is junior, she’s just entered the Parliament, not the executive. Don’t those two criteria make it a different scenario?
 
DREYFUS: That is an absurd distinction that Scott Morrison is trying to duck and weave with. To say that a member of the Opposition who might bear some title, shadow assistant minister for something or other. He is not a minister. He’s not a member of the executive.
 
KARVELAS: Neither is she.
 
DREYFUS: No, she is a backbencher and he is a Senator in the Opposition. The idea that that somehow justifies her misleading conduct to date, justifies her first denying being a member of these Chinese Communist Party connected organisations on TV last night but today in a written statement - she wasn't prepared to front the press Patricia, she’s only put out a written statement - and worst of all, she wasn't prepared to even come into the Parliament, nor was Scott Morrison prepared to say one word.
 
This Prime Minister was full of rage, full of abuse when Sam Dastyari simply did not back the then bipartisan position on the South China Sea. His backbencher, Gladys Liu, has done the same thing. And we get nothing from him.
 
KARVELAS: In her statement today, she clarifies the position on the South China Sea...
 
DREYFUS: Written by the Foreign Minister. I want to hear her say it in the Parliament, Patricia.
 
KARVELAS: So your demand is she make a statement saying she thinks China's actions in the South China Sea are unacceptable?
 
DREYFUS: Illegal. That's what she needs to say, because that's the position of both Australian major political parties….
 
KARVELAS: She has said it in a statement...
 
DREYFUS: ..and the position of the permanent Court of Arbitration.
 
KARVELAS: She said it in a statement, why is that not good enough?
 
DREYFUS: It's not good enough because she needs to front the Parliament, as does the Prime Minister. Given the way he pursued Sam Dastyari over quite related matters. For him to try to duck and weave and pretend none of this is happening is simply not good enough.
 
He stood next to Gladys Liu when she gave her first speech, raised her arm in the air in triumph, it’s an amazing photograph, he said “how good is this”, but now he wants to run away. This is a test for him. He said it was a test for the then Leader of the Opposition when Sam Dastyari didn't take the correct position on policy. It lead to Sam Dastyari's resignation. We need to hear what the Prime Minister has to say about his backbencher, Gladys Liu.
 
KARVELAS: Last year ASIO warned the New South Wales Labor Party that one of its MPs was at risk of being co-opted by Chinese intelligence. Would you have expected ASIO to have examined Ms Liu’s ties to these groups?
 
DREYFUS: It's entirely possible. I don't have any direct knowledge of that. If ASIO was looking into the links between Chinese Communist Party propaganda arms and members of Australian parliaments, and did so in respect of, as was reported, a backbencher in the New South Wales Parliament, one would certainly be expecting the same scrutiny to be given to the links between the Chinese Communist Party and every member of the Federal Parliament.
 
KARVELAS: Dave Sharma, who is a former diplomat but also obviously a Liberal MP as well, says there is perhaps a racial element here. Gladys Liu of course being ethnically Chinese, I think she was born in Hong Kong to be very specific. Is she being targeted unfairly because of her cultural background?
 
DREYFUS: That's a ridiculous suggestion. I can't believe that Dave Sharma, a very experienced and competent diplomat, has even made it.
 
We've got here, on its face, the potential for direct links between a newly elected Member of Parliament and the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party. Her ethnic origin is entirely irrelevant. It would be no different than if Dave Sharma had the same alleged links with the Chinese Communist Party. It's pretty unlikely in his case because he's a former diplomat and a former ambassador for Australia. But it's no different.
 
KARVELAS: OK, you say potential links, so is it your view that an attempt to influence Gladys Liu has not been established yet?
 
DREYFUS: Well, we first need to clear up, out of her own mouth, which organisations she was a member of and which she wasn't. She must have records of these matters. It's not enough to go on Andrew Bolt's show and say “I didn't remember, I don't know”. That's an amazing defence that wouldn't work too well in a court of law and the drug testing the Government wants to administer to welfare recipients. “I don't remember so it didn't happen”.
 
KARVELAS: What do you make of the point she makes that she is being put on lists and it hasn't been given authorisation? Is that plausible?
 
DREYFUS: She has records of what she has done in her life. She strikes me, from what I know of her and her activities in Australian politics, of being a very organised person. I watched very closely the role she played in the 2016 campaign in Chisholm where she organised a vicious campaign falsely based around the Safe Schools program against Labor, which resulted in the election of her predecessor, Julia Banks. That's the mark of a very organised person and Gladys Liu is certainly organised enough to know which organisations she has been a member of and which she wasn't.
 
She needs to come clean and explain. Not “oh I don't remember that” or “I don't remember this”, she needs to actually say which organisations she was a member of and which she wasn't. If she is trying to trail her coat and say, "people put my names on lists and I don't know about it". She needs to know which organisations that has occurred in.
 
KARVELAS: She is currently doing an audit, so she's doing exactly what you describe isn’t she, doing an audit of this? So clearly she plans to provide more public information. Isn't that good enough?
 
DREYFUS: She should have done this months ago and the Liberal Party should have done it months ago before they preselected her to stand as their candidate in Chisholm.
 
It's an extraordinary thing she's only now doing it and it leads you to question how well she complied with the obligation to disclose her interests when she made disclosures to the Parliament if she hasn't got this immediately at hand. Let's see whether she amends her register of interests’ return to disclose that she is in fact associated with other organisations. Let's just see what she says.
 
At the moment, she has clouded the picture, not made it clearer, and the Prime Minister is simply ducking and weaving and trying to evade what for him is a big problem. He should be applying the same standard to his own backbencher Gladys Liu as he sought to apply to Senator Dastyari in the period before he resigned.
 
KARVELAS: Labor argues on another issue that the Federal Government's proposed anti-corruption body lacks the power and authority to properly investigate politicians and staffers in particular. What additional powers does it need?
 
DREYFUS: That's not just me saying it, Patricia, it's every commentator who has looked at the Government model has said it is variously a sham or the integrity commission you have when you don't want an integrity commission. There's so much wrong with the Government's announced model in their discussion paper from September, 2018 about which we’ve heard no more. We haven't seen any legislation. They haven't even put on the list for legislating this year a national integrity commission.
 
There's so much wrong with it, I'm not sure you've got time, but for starters they want two divisions and the second division would cover Commonwealth public servants and MPs. It would not be able to self-start its own inquiries. It would not have the power to demand documents. It would not have the power to compulsorily demand answers to its questions. All of that is hopelessly inadequate. It wouldn't have the powers of a standing Royal Commission, which is what is required, and we've learned this repeatedly over the years from the experience of the state integrity commissions that have been in operation now, some of them for over 30 years.
 
KARVELAS: Briefly, would Labor vote against the Government model if you can't negotiate the improvements you are demanding?
 
DREYFUS: We don't even have the opportunity yet to deal with the Government’s model because there is no legislation. What is striking is that the Government was prepared to vote against the bill to establish a national integrity commission that the Senate voted for on Monday, by majority, but when it came to the House of Representatives yesterday, the Government gagged debate.
 
They are not even prepared to allow this question to be debated in the House of Representatives. They do not have any legislation. Again they are ducking and weaving and not keeping the promise which was to establish a national integrity commission.
 
KARVELAS:
Thank you so much for joining us Mark Dreyfus.
 
ENDS

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS


 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
TV INTERVIEW
ABC TV AFTERNOON BRIEFING
WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER, 2019
 
SUBJECTS: Gladys Liu; National integrity commission.


PATRICA KARVELAS: Labor's legal affairs spokesman Mark Dreyfus has asked Scott Morrison in the Parliament whether Ms Liu was right to say a story that $300,000 of donations associated with the function she ran had to be returned was made up, that's what she said to Andrew Bolt. Tony Smith, the Speaker, ruled the questions out of order. It did appear the Prime Minister was prepared to answer but they were ruled out of order. This was all being played out elaborately, I suppose and very theatrically in the Parliament today and I want to bring in Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to answer questions on all of this. Welcome.
 
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Thanks for having me.
 
KARVELAS: Gladys Liu is under fire for these ties to these organisations linked to high-levels of the Communist Party. Should her association with these groups disqualify her from serving in the Parliament?
 
DREYFUS: They certainly raise questions. The particular groups are connected to the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party which is known for its activities overseas. It’s extraordinary that last night she was saying that she wasn't a member, or she couldn't remember, and today she is saying without being prepared to go into the Parliament, that she is a member, or was a member, at some point.
 
The larger question here, Patricia, is what is the Prime Minister going to do about this? This is the same Scott Morrison that went to town on Sam Dastyari last year, saying that it was unpatriotic for him to not take the bipartisan position - that's the Liberal Party’s position and Labor Party position on the South China Sea - and Sam Dastyari had to resign. Now we have a newly elected Member of Parliament not prepared to back the bipartisan position on Chinese activities in the South China Sea. But this Prime Minister wants to do nothing about it.
 
It’s absolutely extraordinary. It is a test for Scott Morrison and he needs to start doing something, not simply ducking and evading, which is what he did in Question Time.
 
KARVELAS: Let's go to that point you just made, because the Prime Minister added some qualifications on why the Sam Dastyari case was different in Question Time. He said he took money, that's one difference, and the other is that he was in the executive, and he was on the front bench for Labor. Of course Gladys Liu is junior, she’s just entered the Parliament, not the executive. Don’t those two criteria make it a different scenario?
 
DREYFUS: That is an absurd distinction that Scott Morrison is trying to duck and weave with. To say that a member of the Opposition who might bear some title, shadow assistant minister for something or other. He is not a minister. He’s not a member of the executive.
 
KARVELAS: Neither is she.
 
DREYFUS: No, she is a backbencher and he is a Senator in the Opposition. The idea that that somehow justifies her misleading conduct to date, justifies her first denying being a member of these Chinese Communist Party connected organisations on TV last night but today in a written statement - she wasn't prepared to front the press Patricia, she’s only put out a written statement - and worst of all, she wasn't prepared to even come into the Parliament, nor was Scott Morrison prepared to say one word.
 
This Prime Minister was full of rage, full of abuse when Sam Dastyari simply did not back the then bipartisan position on the South China Sea. His backbencher, Gladys Liu, has done the same thing. And we get nothing from him.
 
KARVELAS: In her statement today, she clarifies the position on the South China Sea...
 
DREYFUS: Written by the Foreign Minister. I want to hear her say it in the Parliament, Patricia.
 
KARVELAS: So your demand is she make a statement saying she thinks China's actions in the South China Sea are unacceptable?
 
DREYFUS: Illegal. That's what she needs to say, because that's the position of both Australian major political parties….
 
KARVELAS: She has said it in a statement...
 
DREYFUS: ..and the position of the permanent Court of Arbitration.
 
KARVELAS: She said it in a statement, why is that not good enough?
 
DREYFUS: It's not good enough because she needs to front the Parliament, as does the Prime Minister. Given the way he pursued Sam Dastyari over quite related matters. For him to try to duck and weave and pretend none of this is happening is simply not good enough.
 
He stood next to Gladys Liu when she gave her first speech, raised her arm in the air in triumph, it’s an amazing photograph, he said “how good is this”, but now he wants to run away. This is a test for him. He said it was a test for the then Leader of the Opposition when Sam Dastyari didn't take the correct position on policy. It lead to Sam Dastyari's resignation. We need to hear what the Prime Minister has to say about his backbencher, Gladys Liu.
 
KARVELAS: Last year ASIO warned the New South Wales Labor Party that one of its MPs was at risk of being co-opted by Chinese intelligence. Would you have expected ASIO to have examined Ms Liu’s ties to these groups?
 
DREYFUS: It's entirely possible. I don't have any direct knowledge of that. If ASIO was looking into the links between Chinese Communist Party propaganda arms and members of Australian parliaments, and did so in respect of, as was reported, a backbencher in the New South Wales Parliament, one would certainly be expecting the same scrutiny to be given to the links between the Chinese Communist Party and every member of the Federal Parliament.
 
KARVELAS: Dave Sharma, who is a former diplomat but also obviously a Liberal MP as well, says there is perhaps a racial element here. Gladys Liu of course being ethnically Chinese, I think she was born in Hong Kong to be very specific. Is she being targeted unfairly because of her cultural background?
 
DREYFUS: That's a ridiculous suggestion. I can't believe that Dave Sharma, a very experienced and competent diplomat, has even made it.
 
We've got here, on its face, the potential for direct links between a newly elected Member of Parliament and the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party. Her ethnic origin is entirely irrelevant. It would be no different than if Dave Sharma had the same alleged links with the Chinese Communist Party. It's pretty unlikely in his case because he's a former diplomat and a former ambassador for Australia. But it's no different.
 
KARVELAS: OK, you say potential links, so is it your view that an attempt to influence Gladys Liu has not been established yet?
 
DREYFUS: Well, we first need to clear up, out of her own mouth, which organisations she was a member of and which she wasn't. She must have records of these matters. It's not enough to go on Andrew Bolt's show and say “I didn't remember, I don't know”. That's an amazing defence that wouldn't work too well in a court of law and the drug testing the Government wants to administer to welfare recipients. “I don't remember so it didn't happen”.
 
KARVELAS: What do you make of the point she makes that she is being put on lists and it hasn't been given authorisation? Is that plausible?
 
DREYFUS: She has records of what she has done in her life. She strikes me, from what I know of her and her activities in Australian politics, of being a very organised person. I watched very closely the role she played in the 2016 campaign in Chisholm where she organised a vicious campaign falsely based around the Safe Schools program against Labor, which resulted in the election of her predecessor, Julia Banks. That's the mark of a very organised person and Gladys Liu is certainly organised enough to know which organisations she has been a member of and which she wasn't.
 
She needs to come clean and explain. Not “oh I don't remember that” or “I don't remember this”, she needs to actually say which organisations she was a member of and which she wasn't. If she is trying to trail her coat and say, "people put my names on lists and I don't know about it". She needs to know which organisations that has occurred in.
 
KARVELAS: She is currently doing an audit, so she's doing exactly what you describe isn’t she, doing an audit of this? So clearly she plans to provide more public information. Isn't that good enough?
 
DREYFUS: She should have done this months ago and the Liberal Party should have done it months ago before they preselected her to stand as their candidate in Chisholm.
 
It's an extraordinary thing she's only now doing it and it leads you to question how well she complied with the obligation to disclose her interests when she made disclosures to the Parliament if she hasn't got this immediately at hand. Let's see whether she amends her register of interests’ return to disclose that she is in fact associated with other organisations. Let's just see what she says.
 
At the moment, she has clouded the picture, not made it clearer, and the Prime Minister is simply ducking and weaving and trying to evade what for him is a big problem. He should be applying the same standard to his own backbencher Gladys Liu as he sought to apply to Senator Dastyari in the period before he resigned.
 
KARVELAS: Labor argues on another issue that the Federal Government's proposed anti-corruption body lacks the power and authority to properly investigate politicians and staffers in particular. What additional powers does it need?
 
DREYFUS: That's not just me saying it, Patricia, it's every commentator who has looked at the Government model has said it is variously a sham or the integrity commission you have when you don't want an integrity commission. There's so much wrong with the Government's announced model in their discussion paper from September, 2018 about which we’ve heard no more. We haven't seen any legislation. They haven't even put on the list for legislating this year a national integrity commission.
 
There's so much wrong with it, I'm not sure you've got time, but for starters they want two divisions and the second division would cover Commonwealth public servants and MPs. It would not be able to self-start its own inquiries. It would not have the power to demand documents. It would not have the power to compulsorily demand answers to its questions. All of that is hopelessly inadequate. It wouldn't have the powers of a standing Royal Commission, which is what is required, and we've learned this repeatedly over the years from the experience of the state integrity commissions that have been in operation now, some of them for over 30 years.
 
KARVELAS: Briefly, would Labor vote against the Government model if you can't negotiate the improvements you are demanding?
 
DREYFUS: We don't even have the opportunity yet to deal with the Government’s model because there is no legislation. What is striking is that the Government was prepared to vote against the bill to establish a national integrity commission that the Senate voted for on Monday, by majority, but when it came to the House of Representatives yesterday, the Government gagged debate.
 
They are not even prepared to allow this question to be debated in the House of Representatives. They do not have any legislation. Again they are ducking and weaving and not keeping the promise which was to establish a national integrity commission.
 
KARVELAS:
Thank you so much for joining us Mark Dreyfus.
 
ENDS

  • Mark Dreyfus
    published this page in Transcripts 2019-09-11 20:14:18 +1000

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