Liberal MP Gladys Liu, who’s copped heavy criticism over donations and links to the Chinese Communist Party, made an unusual push to relax foreign investment laws before becoming a federal MP.
The first-term MP, who won the Victorian seat of Chisholm in the May federal election, is facing growing calls to step aside amid questions about her China ties — after stumbling through a trainwreck interview with Andrew Bolt on Tuesday night.
In the interview, repeatedly she dodged questions and repeatedly refused to criticise China or its President Xi Jinping.
Now, it’s been revealed that in 2017 she was part of a push to make foreign investment in Aussie farming land easier.
The unusual move was made by Victorian Liberal Party’s Eastern Multicultural Branch, of which Ms Liu was the president.
The motion, obtained by the ABC, called for the raising of the $15 million screening threshold for agricultural land and the $55 million threshold for agribusiness.
It also reportedly called for the Federal Government to “address the xenophobia that is current in the Australian community regarding foreign investment”.
The Liberal Party has framed criticism of Ms Liu as racist.
“They seek to smear an Australian of Chinese heritage,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
The PM said there were 1.2 million Australians of Chinese heritage and “this has a very grubby undertone in terms of the smear that is being placed on Gladys Liu … and the broader smear that I think is implied in that over more than one million other Australians”.
Mr Morrison said in remarks in Mandarin on Chinese-language social media WeChat that the ALP was “sparing no effort to discredit Liu, but I will stand up and defend her and all Australian Chinese because they have made great contributions to Australia with a sincere heart”.
However, Labor says its scrutiny of Ms Liu has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with holding her to account.
Sky News host Andrew Bolt unleashed a stunning attack on Prime Minister for playing the “race card”.
“The way that the Prime Minister played that race card five times this morning, well I can only say the Chinese regime should be sending him a thank you card,” Bolt said in his opening monologue on Thursday.
“This slur against Labor and others was particularly disgusting.”
News.com.au political editor Malcolm Farr agreed Mr Morrison’s bluster would not shield Ms Liu from legitimate questions.
“Gladys Liu has much to explain and no huffing and puffing about ‘smears’ by the government will remove that obligation,” he wrote.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor’s only motivation was ensuring accountability.
“It has nothing to do with race and the only person who has raised race in these issues is, of course, Prime Minister Morrison,” he told reporters in New Zealand.
“The same guy who labelled (former Labor senator) Sam Dastyari as ‘Shanghai Sam’ repeatedly in the parliament.”
Mr Morrison used the disparaging nickname several times in 2017, including during question time when he was cautioned by the Speaker for it.
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said Mr Morrison was hiding behind the entire Chinese-Australian community to avoid saying why he had ignored warnings from national security agencies.
It has also emerged intelligence agencies warned former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull against attending a 2018 fundraiser with associates of Ms Liu. Separately, there are reports security agencies warned the Liberal Party not to preselect her as a candidate.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton insisted there was no “smoking gun” or national security risks.