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Liberal MP Gladys Liu’s controversial link to Chinese donor explained

Gladys Liu's controversial link to Chinese donor explained. Source: Getty

Liberal MP Gladys Liu has made headlines for her alleged involvement in securing access to the federal government for a company endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party. 

That company, Brigshun, has also been implicated in a major organised crime probe into $1 million in suspected drug money, the Sydney Morning Herald revealed. 

MP Gladys Liu’s links to Brigshun

In late 2015, the Australian subsidiary of the Chinese-controlled company Brigshun, Brigshun New Energy, allegedly enlisted Liu to secure political backing for its plans to introduce electric buses in Australia.

At the time, Liu told The Age and Herald her role was purely “pro-bono”, and that her title as “communications director” was created in order to get other politicians to pay attention to the company’s efforts. 

“I recall I helped [Brighsun] talk to ministers because they failed to get any attention from the government,” Liu said.

“So I said, ‘Oh well, I do know a few people’, so I helped them to invite the minister to come to their launch – Greg Hunt,” she said. “[The communications director title] was to help the minister come. If I [didn’t have a title] at that company, then they wouldn’t talk to me.”

But the company’s current CEO, Charles Brent, said her role was “absolutely specifically” to help the company gain access to politicians.

“Gladys did a very good job...she was instrumental in helping us get access, like any good lobbyist would, and that was her job,” he said.

Brigshun’s suspected links to organised crime

According to documents secured by the SMH, Brigshun’s former Australian CEO, Allen Saylav, collected $1 million in cash from a heroin trafficker in April and May 2016.

At the time, the CEO stated he was following orders of Brigshun’s Chinese co-director, Zhang Genjiang - a Crown casino high roller. 

He said the $1 million uncovered by police was part of $3 million that Zhang had already provided Brigshun of a promised $15 million investment.

Around the same time, Brigshun had donated $105,000 to the Liberal Party, but Saylav was unaware of where the funds for the political donation came from. 

Election time controversy

This is not the first time Liu has been the centre of controversy: At election time, Liu created signs urging Chinese students to vote for the Coalition, which looked extremely similar to official Australian Electoral Commission signs.

In October, Liu and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg admitted that the Chinese-language signs instructed voters that the “correct” or “right” way to vote was to put a 1 next to the Liberal party candidate on ballot papers in Victorian seats Chisholm and Kooyong.

The MPs stated that while the signs intended to say “to make your vote count put a 1 next to the Liberal candidate”, they conceded the translation meant “correct way to vote”, “correct voting method” or “the right way to vote”.

Labor to pursue Liu

Since the revelations have come to light, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has called for Liu to explain herself in federal parliament.

"We need to be diligent about ensuring that the parliament looks after these issues," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"Every day there's issues that seemed to be raised about the member for Chisholm and the government won't let Gladys Liu make a statement to parliament."

Albanese made reference to photographs of Liu with a man who was allegedly approached by Chinese intelligence agents to run for federal parliament.

"I think there is real concern about a lack of accountability," he said.

"How is that Gladys Liu says that she didn't know the gentleman who's photographed sitting next to her in her house?"

Labor also accused prime minister Scott Morrison of protecting the Liberal MP.

"Gladys Liu has refused to give a statement to the parliament. She is being protected from doing so by Mr Morrison," Senator Penny Wong told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

-With AAP

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