Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has come to the defence of Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu.
The embattled first-term federal MP is facing calls to “consider her tenure” over her links to several Chinese government-linked organisations.
“If the prime minister or I had concerns about Gladys Liu, we wouldn’t be backing her the way we are,” Mr Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also launched a strident defence of the rookie politician.
He said Ms Liu should be forgiven for giving a “clumsy” interview in which she couldn’t recall her links to various Chinese groups.
It has also emerged that intelligence agencies warned former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull against attending a 2018 fundraiser with associates of Ms Liu.
Separately, there are reports security agencies warned the Liberal Party not to preselect her as a candidate.
Mr Morrison said there was a “grubby undertone” to the reports and accused Labor of launching a racist attack.
He launched a strident defence of the rookie politician in parliament, saying Ms Liu had overcome discrimination, domestic violence and disability.
”I applaud the member for Chisholm. She’s a great Australian who deserves to be in this house,” he said as Ms Liu, seated a few rows behind him, wiped away tears.
He also accused Labor of trying to sling mud knowing he would not comment on security briefings.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor’s only motivation was ensuring accountability.
“It has nothing to do with race and the only person who has raised race in these issues is of course Prime Minister Morrison,” Mr Albanese told reporters in New Zealand.
“The same guy who labelled (former Labor senator) Sam Dastyari as ‘Shanghai Sam’ repeatedly in the parliament.”
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the prime minister was hiding behind the entire Chinese-Australian community to avoid saying why he had ignored warnings from national security agencies.
“That is one of the lowest acts I have seen in all my time in this place,” she told parliament.
On Wednesday, Ms Liu revealed she held an honorary role with the Guangdong Overseas Exchange Association in 2011, but was no longer associated with it.
The organisation is part of China’s United Front propaganda arm.
Senate crossbencher Rex Patrick said the controversy surrounding Ms Liu was a national security issue.
“She must consider her tenure,” he told ABC radio.