i’m no racist but …

Looks like the old Howard Conservative scare tactics are alive and well and living in the mainstream media and the Liberal Party in Australia. And fortunately the Baby Boomers get to relive their glory days all over again under both the banners of “Yellow Peril” and “Reds Under The Bed“.

And of course, Man’s downfall comes under the guise of a temptress, Helen Liu. How’s that for saucy!

Some background first. Australian Minister of Defence, Joel Fitzgibbon has had a rather coloured history in his portfolio. From within his own department there is a campaign to oust him with security issues arising out of his personal relationships. Much finger pointing and speculation about who is behind the campaign to discredit the minister continues. Is it someone in the defence force? Is it someone within his own ministry? Or someone within the shadow government?

What we do know that in recent secret investigations about the minister, his personal relationships with ex-pats and foreign nationals has come into question. Having responded with a denial to a journalist’s question about receiving gifts or incentives from international lobbyists, Joel Fitzgibbon corrected his statement and advised that he had indeed received a gift of two trips to China from Ms Helen Liu, who is his Canberra landlord and personal friend of twenty years. Joel Fitzgibbon chose to correct the record himself, without known prompting from the media or any member of parliament.

Enter Ms Lui. Ex-patriot Australian. Chinese business woman.

Like all good lobbyists and business executives, Ms Liu has a wide network of friends and colleagues with which she does business. Suddenly the call has gone out, led by Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and the media, to find out who Ms Lui has had associations within government.

Now, it’s open season on her. The Prime Minister and senior ministers of the government are being asked what associations they have ever had with Ms Lui. Like a slur of the worse kind, any association with her is suddenly considered suspect. Suddenly her actions are being called into account indirectly through the people she has met and known, and she is being tainted as a threat to national security through her relationship with Fitzgibbon. Yet there is no basis or founding to suggest that Ms Lui is anything but an astute and credible entrepreneur. So much so, the Australian Attorney-General Robert McClelland released a statement advising the Ms Liu is of no interest at all the to Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

China is Australia’s second largest trading partner, and have been an integral part of the resources boom that created so much wealth and prosperity for the country that has been part of the buffer for riding the wave of the World Financial Crisis.

Yes, the Chinese government has does have record for Human Rights abuses, the annexing of Tibet and the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989 amongst them. Yes, the government is led by a constitution drawn up under the Communist Party of China. Yes, Chinese businesses and the government want to have more financial influence in the futures of Fortescue Metals, Oz Minerals and Rio Tinto.

In the media Ms Liu has been subtly coloured with all the negative aspects of the above mentions issues. Intimations about having a relationship with Ms Lui imply that you are having a direct relationship with the Chinese Communist Party and are somehow controlled by Chinese government interests in Australia. Every report of Ms Liu states that she has expressed her distress at this situation through broken or limited English.

It would be interesting to see if this “I’m not a racist but” attitude towards Ms Liu would be any different if she was a white male entrepreneur from Europe or America.

The real issues here are about the performance of Joel Fitzgibbon as Minister of Defence, and the legitimate scrutiny of gifts given to politicians from third party interests. It certainly helps this story to have Ms Liu play the role of both the Serpant and Eve in the Eden that is the Australian Parliament. And politicians everywhere are being asked to justify any relationship with Ms Liu, even those that were just a two minute handshake and photo opportunity.

Sadly, the subtle slander of this woman continues.

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