News National Penny Wong tells media not to meddle in ‘challenging relationship’ with China

Penny Wong tells media not to meddle in ‘challenging relationship’ with China

Labor Senator Penny Wong is casting a disapproving eye at the media's coverage of China. Photo: Getty
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Journalists and government backbenchers shouldn’t be leading the discussion on China interference in Australia, Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman says.

Penny Wong repeated her calls for parliamentarians to be briefed on foreign interference by the government.

“I am concerned that we appear to have national security advice being provided to particular journalists,” Senator Wong told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

She said the government needed to take charge of conversation around foreign interference and brief parliament.

“Too much of the discussion … has been lead by journalists or by backbenchers such as (Liberal MP) Andrew Hastie,” Senator Wong said.

She said if parliamentarians were better briefed they would have better ideas on how to handle the matters publicly.

“Maybe people can make sensible judgments about whether getting a headline or a story is actually (in) the national interest,” Senator Wong said.

“We have a challenging relationship at this point with China.”

She said the superpower was an important trading partner, but there always would be differences because Australia was a democracy.

Australian authorities are investigating several claims of alleged Chinese interference in Australian politics.

They are trying to confirm the bona fides of Wang Liqiang, who is seeking asylum in Australia after claiming to be a defected Chinese spy.

At the same time, they are investigating claims China tried to bankroll a Liberal candidate into federal parliament.

That man, Nick Zhao, was found dead in a Melbourne hotel in March with authorities unable to confirm how he died.