Monday, November 25, 2019

Claims China attempted to plant spy in Parliament

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is investigating allegations that a Chinese espionage ring tried to get a spy elected to federal parliament. The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes report that the group offered a million dollars to pay for the election campaign of Liberal Party member and Melbourne car dealer Bo “Nick” Zhao, who was later found dead. On Sunday ASIO director-general of security, Mike Burgess, said: “ASIO was previously aware of matters that have been reported today, and has been actively investigating them”. The allegations come shortly after revelations that Wang Liqiang, who claimed to have worked as a spy for China in Hong Kong and Taiwan, has defected to Australia. Liberal MP Andrew Hastie has called for Wang to be granted asylum.  

Uighur detention camps: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has obtained a leaked trove of classified Chinese government documents, detailing the operations of the mass detention camps for the Uighur minority in Xinjiang, as well as the region’s mass surveillance program and AI-powered “predictive policing”. The revelations detail how authorities are able to amass intimate personal data through warrantless manual searches and facial recognition cameras to identify candidates for detention. The documents reveal that 23 Australian citizens were red-flagged. The Chinese government called the leaked documents “pure fabrication and fake news”. 

Union bill debate: The Australian Senate is to begin its final sitting fortnight, with Attorney-General Christian Porter listing the “ensuring integrity” bill that targets unions, for debate on Monday afternoon. Porter is increasingly confident he has the numbers to pass the legislation, reports Guardian Australia, after agreeing to amendments from the crossbench party Centre Alliance. Debate on the Medevac repeal is scheduled for Wednesday.

Calls for living wage: Ahead of the Christmas shopping season, Oxfam Australia has released a list of fashion brands and retailers that have failed to commit to pay living wages to women who manufacture their clothing overseas. The list includes and Big W, Just Jeans, Peter Alexander, Jay Jays, Myer and Rivers. The leader of Oxfam Australia’s labour rights group, Sarah Rogan, said women in Bangladesh were being paid 62 cents an hour. “They're unable to afford treatment when they fell sick, to send their children to school, to make their pay stretch to put enough food on the table and being separated from their children,” she said.

The red princeling
Xi Jinping’s ambitions for China are paranoid and expansionist. His mindset mirrors that of the guerrilla fighters in the Chinese Civil War. Peter Hartcher on how understanding this history helps in understanding Australia’s relationship with China now.


“Charleene Mundine has battled for months trying to find out how thousands of dollars disappeared from her children’s NDIS account. The Saturday Paper has been contacted by others indicating they, too, have had serious practical problems with the NDIS system – obstructive or poorly trained plan managers and co-ordinators, out-of-pocket costs, long delays and unresponsive agency representatives.”


“We need to talk about fascism, particularly here in Australia. We need, as Australians, to talk about it because the perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre grew up in this country – and the crimes he is being prosecuted for in New Zealand, killing 51 Muslims and injuring 49 others, continue to resonate around the world. The Christchurch gunman was not the first fascist activist to embrace individual terrorism. In his manifesto, he praised previous shooters, particularly Anders Breivik. But more than anyone else, he solidified a template for would-be terrorists, presenting a model deliberately constructed to encourage imitators.”


“In the afternoon, I call the medical results number. My whole body is quaking. My fingertips sweat. The nurse needs a minute to find our records. It is longer than any other minute there has ever been. The phone line quietens, just a low chatter in a corridor ... My heart is slamming against the bones that protect it. It is a propeller about to lift me into space. It constricts, fights, pukes. What does it know?”


“The treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, says the banking regulator is looking at disqualifying the Westpac board for accountability failings which may have helped facilitate child exploitation. The financial intelligence agency, Austrac, announced it had begun legal action against Westpac last week, levelling accusations the bank had more than 23m legal breaches in relation to its obligations under anti-money and counterterror finance laws.”


“Westpac has frozen bonus payments for its entire executive team and several members of general management as it gets to the bottom of its money laundering scandal. In a statement released on Sunday, the bank said it was investigating who was at fault, and revealed its executives and select members of general management would be paying the price.”


“The search yielded several examples of Trump’s ... eccentric handwriting style. With only a cursory search — and more focused keywords — I was able to find other examples of his handwriting. Trump’s notes, written to friends and enemies alike, were almost always written at an angle, scrawled on top of printouts of articles from the internet. (This, apparently, is something he does with some frequency.) I was struck not only by the peculiar delivery of the notes, but also by the idiosyncratic way Trump writes the alphabet. At that moment it was clear to me — as it surely must be to you, dear reader — I had to make a font based on Donald Trump’s handwriting.”

Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.