Bill Shorten is being accused of hypocrisy for staying silent about attending the wedding of banned Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo’s daughter while dishing out criticism of Peter Dutton.
The Morrison government produced images of the Labor leader at the 2016 wedding on Wednesday to return fire after Mr Shorten criticised the Home Affairs Minister for his contact with the Chinese billionaire.
The wedding was also attended by former Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb.
While Mr Shorten’s attendance at the wedding was revealed several years ago, the images released on Wednesday are new.
“It’s now come to the attention of the government that there are a number of photographs that depict the same person who offered that criticism,” Attorney-General Christian Porter said.
“The photographs demonstrate quite clearly that Bill Shorten has a depth of relationship with Huang Xiangmo that he has been absolutely silent about while he is delivering criticism of a lunch where business is discussed with a prominent figure of the Chinese community.”
ABC’s Four Corners revealed on Monday night that former Liberal MP Santo Santoro was paid as a lobbyist to arrange a lunch between Mr Dutton, then the immigration minister, and Mr Huang, who wanted his citizenship expedited.
Mr Huang did not secure the outcome he wanted.
The government later cancelled his permanent residency and banned him from re-entering Australia amid concerns the Chinese government is attempting to influence Australian politics.
Mr Huang is believed to have donated $2.7 million to the Liberal Party and Labor, promoting ASIO to warn MPs about his activities.
“Bill Shorten knows that he was a VIP guest of honour at the wedding,” Mr Porter said.
“This now is an essential issue about Bill Shorten’s credibility.
“He was a man who offers up the most remarkable, overcooked criticism of the minister for having lunch with a person who is a prominent Chinese figure in the Australian community at the time of that lunch and … Bill Shorten knows in his own mind that he himself was the VIP guest of honour at the same person’s daughter’s wedding.”
Asked if Mr Santoro had broken any laws in seeking payment to introduce Mr Huang to Mr Dutton in 2016, the Attorney-General said he had not.
“It’s hardly a surprising thing that lobbyists are paid to lobby,” he said.
However, former immigration minister Philip Ruddock said paying a lobbyist should not be required to see a minister.
“On the issue of citizenship, it’s not an outcome that he got,” Mr Ruddock said.
“When I was minister I would see anyone. I don’t operate a closed door.
“My view is nobody should have to pay anyone to see a minister.”
Liberal MP Michael Sukkar has also criticised Four Corners because it did not mention Mr Shorten’s lunch with Mr Huang after the Labor Party was given $55,000.