Gladys Liu in parliament. She has come under fire for failing to declare donations. Picture: Kym Smith
Gladys Liu in parliament. She has come under fire for failing to declare donations. Picture: Kym Smith

MP under fire fails to declare donation

EMBATTLED Liberal MP Gladys Liu has failed to declare a $39,675 donation to the Liberal Party's Victorian division three years ago.

The omission, which is a breach of disclosure laws, follows an earlier failure to declare a $25,000 donation for almost three years.

The Herald Sun can reveal Ms Liu, renowned in party circles for her fundraising efforts, never filed a return to the Australian Electoral Commission for the $39,675 donation made in 2015-16.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison headed off an attempt by Labor and the crossbench to force the Victorian MP to explain herself in parliament, dismissing questions over her prior links to the Chinese Communist Party as a "smear" with a "very grubby undertone".

The Herald Sun can now reveal Ms Liu belonged to yet another Communist Party-linked organisation which helped lead a pro-Beijing rally on the streets of Melbourne about the South China Sea in 2016.

The Hong Kong-born MP has been a delegate of the Federation of Chinese Associations in Victoria, which describes itself as protecting "the Ancestral Nation's dignity and interests" and striking back against "anti-China groups and behaviours".

Chinese interference expert Professor Clive Hamilton said the group was a "very suspect organisation and has been very active in (Chinese Community Party) influence work in Melbourne".

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and treasurer Josh Frydenberg next to Liberal member for Chisholm Gladys Liu. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and treasurer Josh Frydenberg next to Liberal member for Chisholm Gladys Liu. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

The Victorian Liberal Party declared the $39,675 donation in its annual return, and under donation laws Ms Liu was also required to report the donation. Failing to report donations was a criminal offence at the time.

It is understood the money was for a $24,175 auction item at a fundraiser, and a separate $15,500 donation to the party.

Ms Liu and the Liberal Party's Victorian division also did not declare a separate $25,000 donation in 2014 for three years, according to AEC records.

The Herald Sun revealed that senior Liberals held concerns about Ms Liu's links to pro-Beijing groups and were warned by the intelligence community last year against preselecting her in the seat of Chisholm.

That followed a gaffe-prone interview with Sky News host and Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt in which Ms Liu refused to condemn China's actions in the South China Sea.

She later released a statement which said: "Australia's longstanding position on the South China Sea is consistent and clear."

In 2016, Federation of Chinese Associations Victorian president Su Junxi spoke to a 3000-strong rally against The Hague's decision to block China's territorial claims in the South China Sea, reportedly saying: "All of the islands of the South China Sea are inherently China's territory."

Last month, the group released a statement on behalf of about 100 Chinese community groups in Victoria which said they were "extremely concerned about a series of recent incidents in Hong Kong".

Ms Liu did not comment on the link to the group before deadline, but she mentioned her position in an interview with the Whitehorse Leader in July.

Another senior figure in the group is Ji Jianmin, who was recently pictured with Mr Morrison and Ms Liu in Melbourne, and is closely linked to Tom Zhou - otherwise known as "Mr Chinatown" - who has been embroiled in the Crown casino junket scandal.

It also emerged yesterday that Ms Liu failed to declare her membership of Communist Party-linked groups during her preselection last year.

The Herald Sun has been told some voting party members were aware of the concerns about her connections.

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Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: "The Prime Minister must urgently demonstrate to the Australian people what steps he took to ensure that Gladys Liu is in fact a fit and proper person to sit in the Australian parliament."

But Mr Morrison said anyone who sat on Cabinet's national security committee knew they were never in a position "to be able to offer commentary on inquiries of that nature".

The Prime Minister said Ms Liu was only guilty of giving "a clumsy interview" and she had since given an adequate explanation.

"Gladys is a Chinese-born Australian," Mr Morrison said.

"Does that make her in cahoots with the Chinese government? Of course no. It is a ridiculous suggestion and I think it is an insult to every single Chinese-Australian in this country."

 

 

anthony.galloway@news.com.au