Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie delivered an ominous warning speech to the Senate last night, voicing her fears that China is attempting to “reshape our democracy”.
One of Ms Lambie’s fellow crossbenchers, Centre Alliance’s Rex Patrick, is pushing for an inquiry into Australia’s relationship with China. That was the context for her speech.
She took aim at both major parties, which are opposing the idea.
“It’s about time the people in this place woke up to China’s attempts to infiltrate our economy and our democracy. I can tell you that the other 25 million Australians out there have,” Ms Lambie said.
“Honestly, where’s your courage? What are you scared of?
“This is not some wacky conspiracy theory. This is happening.
“This is an existential threat to our society, and Australians are scared.”
She argued there were too few security measures in place to counter foreign interference – a claim the government would no doubt dispute.
On Monday Scott Morrison announced he was setting up a new taskforce to deal with the issue, with $87.8 million in funding.
“There are no security checks. There’s little to stop it from happening. It’s absolutely beyond shocking. We’re sitting ducks here,” Ms Lambie said last night.
She cited a couple of examples of China’s actions – the alleged plot to infiltrate our federal parliament, and the suspect donations to NSW Labor by Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo.
“They’re not just trying to influence politicians with money. They’re trying to get them elected to sit in this chamber,” she said.
“Where they can buy or get seats in Australian parliament, they’re coming.”
Ms Lambie stressed her concerns were not aimed at the Australian-Chinese community.
“I’m not talking about you. I’ve made that very clear in the past. Chinese-Australians have been here since the gold rushes, and their place in and contribution to Australian life is profound,” she said.
“I’m sure they join all Australians who are watching on in horror at the stories that have come out recently. It’s unbelievable what is being tolerated from inside this chamber.”
Rather, she mainly targeted the major parties, saying they were “selling off Australia for a quick buck”.
China, of course, is our biggest trading partner.
“Let’s get the ball rolling on this. Until we do, we’re leaving our economy and our democracy exposed,” Ms Lambie said.