Liberal MP Liu cuts Chinese business ties

A newly-elected Liberal MP is under pressure over her links to the Chinese Communist Party.
A newly-elected Liberal MP is under pressure over her links to the Chinese Communist Party.

Newly-elected Liberal MP Gladys Liu has cut ties with some Chinese organisations and claims others have been using her name without her knowledge.

The Victorian MP is under pressure after initially saying she could not recall being part of two Chinese government-linked propaganda organisations.

She's been backed by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

"Unfortunately, some Chinese associations appoint people to honorary positions without their knowledge or permission," Ms Liu said in a statement on Wednesday.

"I do not wish my name to be used in any of these associations and I ask them to stop using my name.

"I have resigned from many organisations and I am in the process of auditing any organisations who may have added me as a member without my knowledge or consent."

The ABC reported she had been a council member for two China Overseas Exchange Association chapters from 2003 to 2015, which were later rolled into China's United Front propaganda arm.

On Sky News on Tuesday night, Ms Liu said she could not recall whether she was involved in the organisations.

But on Wednesday, the first-term MP revealed she had an honorary role with the Guangdong Overseas Exchange Association in 2011 but no longer had any relationship with the organisation.

Labor sought to link her situation to a series of reports about questionable donations to the Liberals.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus asked Mr Morrison in parliament about allegations a NSW minister received a banned donation from a Chinese developer, reports the Victorian Liberals returned $300,000 of donations from guests of Ms Liu at a 2015 fundraiser, and allegations a Brisbane company donated to the LNP during negotiations for a Home Affairs contract.

Most of the questions were ruled out of order.

Mr Morrison drew a parallel with former Labor senator Sam Dastyari, who was hounded out of politics over links with a Chinese donor who security agencies warned both major parties about.

"He seems to forget the fact that money changed hands between the then-senator Dastyari ... and his position was bought by that, Mr Speaker, with a concessional loan, a loan, I should say, to pay off his legal expenses," Mr Morrison told parliament.

"He was caught in his own web of corruption,."

Mr Dastyari said Ms Liu's statement was shocking.

"She should be held to the same standard that I was - a standard the PM set. I resigned. I took responsibility," he said on Twitter.

The ABC reported on Wednesday night that ASIO advised then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull not to attend a 2018 fundraising dinner Ms Liu was involved with.

The event was organised before she was a Liberal candidate, but Mr Turnbull instead attended a different Chinese New Year event in Melbourne.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne also backed Ms Liu when asked what steps she had taken to ensure the backbencher was a fit and proper person to sit in parliament.

"Any suggestion that that is not the case is offensive," Senator Payne told the upper house.

Ms Liu also repeated her position that Australia's interests come first in the contested South China Sea, after she refused in an interview to say China's actions were specifically "unlawful".

Senate crossbencher Rex Patrick wants Ms Liu investigated by security agencies while One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said the prime minister should reassure Australians the MP was " there for the right reasons in the parliament".

Ms Liu, who was born in Hong Kong, said any suggestions she wasn't a proud Australian and passionate Chisholm MP were "deeply offensive".

"I know some people will see everything I do through the lens of my birthplace, but I hope that they will see more than just the first Chinese woman elected to parliament," she said.

Australian Associated Press