Besieged Liberal MP Gladys Liu did not disclose her membership of organisations linked to the Chinese Government’s foreign interference operations when she ran for preselection for the federal seat she now holds.
The ABC has obtained the form Ms Liu submitted during the preselection process for the seat of Chisholm, which she won for the Liberal Party at the last federal election.
All preselection candidates are obliged to fill in a section titled General and Community Activities, where they are supposed to list all organisations of which they are or have been a member or active supporter.
Ms Liu listed 17 different organisations, including the Box Hill Chess Club, the Australian Dancing Society and the Rotary Club of Melbourne. She also made reference to having been an honorary president or adviser to “many community organisations”.
She did not, however, declare her council membership of two chapters of an organisation called the China Overseas Exchange Association, which the ABC this week reported were part of the Chinese Government’s efforts to spread influence overseas.
The ABC has previously reported that Ms Liu was an honorary chair of two other organisations linked to the Chinese Government’s United Front Work propaganda and foreign influence activities — the World Trade United Foundation and the United Chinese Commerce Association of Australia.
In her application for endorsement, Ms Liu did not declare her membership of these two organisations either.
Ms Liu released a statement this week in response to the growing furore over her ties to a number of Chinese Government-linked organisations, in which she admitted to having been a member of one chapter of the Chinese Overseas Exchange Association, the United Chinese Commerce Association of Australia and Jiangmen General Commercial Association.
She did not disclose membership of the latter on her preselection application.
As the endorsement application is an internal Liberal Party document, it is unclear whether candidates are obliged to disclose membership of foreign organisations, but Ms Liu disclosed previous membership of some Hong Kong-based community organisations.
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In the application, Ms Liu also claims to have raised more than $1 million for the Liberal Party by organising functions or bringing guests to fundraising dinners.
At a function in October 2015 she supplied guests for five VIP tables at a total cost of $50,000. Those guests then bid for auction items, which Ms Liu said helped the dinner exceed its estimated revenue by $400,000.
At an April 2016 federal election dinner, Ms Liu said she supplied 10 VIP tables that raked in $100,000 for the Liberal Party and “introduced high-value business and community leaders”.
“The Chinese community naturally shares many of the values of the Liberal Party, including an affinity for hard work, self-reliance and initiative, achievement in business and education, family values and respect for the rules of society,” Ms Liu wrote in her accompanying statement.
“But converting these natural values into support for the Liberal Party requires constant, active engagement. The Liberal Party in Victoria currently does not have an MP of Chinese background who can champion it at either federal or state level. If I were to become the first, it could enhance the Party’s support in that community across our state.”
The debate over Ms Liu’s ties to various organisations intensified this week after a bruising interview with Sky News commentator Andrew Bolt, in which Ms Liu claimed to be unaware of her membership of some organisations and struggled to answer other questions.
In the statement she subsequently released she said she had cut ties with “many organisations” and was in the process of auditing any organisations that may have added her as a member without her knowledge or consent.
Ms Liu did not respond to the ABC’s request for comment regarding her preselection form.