Gladys Liu’s association with Chinese figures who were deemed a security risk was the subject of an ASIO investigation even before she entered Parliament or became a Liberal Party candidate.
The ABC understands ASIO Director-General Duncan Lewis advised that then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, based on the guest list, should not attend a “meet and greet” organised by Ms Liu in the Victorian electorate of Chisholm for Chinese New Year in February 2018.
At the time, Julia Banks was the Liberal MP for the eastern Melbourne seat and Ms Liu was active in Chisholm Liberal Party circles.
Ms Liu had already earned a reputation as a supreme fundraiser.
In the wake of the Sam Dastyari affair the year before, Mr Turnbull’s office had developed a standard procedure to request the guest list for fundraisers or major organised events where the PM was invited.
About three or four weeks before the February 18 “meet and greet” in Box Hill, Mr Turnbull’s office asked for a guestlist from Ms Banks’s office.
It duly arrived on an A4 sheet of paper with about 30 names from the Chinese community.
This list was then forwarded to ASIO for vetting.
The advice from the Director-General was that Mr Turnbull should not attend the meeting.
The ABC understands Mr Turnbull was not directly told of Mr Lewis’s advice. Instead, Mr Turnbull attended Chinese New Year celebrations in inner Melbourne alongside Ms Banks, one of his loyalists.
After the leadership coup that saw Mr Turnbull ousted in August 2018, Ms Banks said she would not recontest the federal election for the Liberal Party in Chisholm.
Three months later, Ms Banks quit the Liberal Party altogether, putting the Morrison Government further into minority status.
Ms Liu won Liberal preselection in late October.