Federal Liberal MP Gladys Liu Questions Victorian Premier Over Belt and Road

June 1, 2020 Updated: June 1, 2020

Australia’s first Chinese-Australian member of Parliament Gladys Liu has criticised the Victorian state government’s decision to be involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Speaking to the Age on May 31, the state Liberal representative said that there was a definite “lack of transparency” around Victoria’s Belt and Road agreement.

“Premier Andrews didn’t talk to the federal government, so we didn’t know about it,” Liu said.

Noting that the Commonwealth should be the judge of trade deals, Liu called on Victoria to work with the federal government.

Liu questioned which Australian companies are benefitting from it so far.

“The most important thing is, what are Victorians, what are Australians getting out of it? How many jobs have the projects been able to provide? What are these companies getting these projects? Have [the projects] been put up for public tender? Do they pay Australian tax? We don’t know. If there is a benefit, then show us,” said Liu.

Born in Hong Kong, Liu was formerly the multicultural advisor to the Former Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu from 2007-2013 before she was elected to the national parliament in 2019 representing the electorate of Chisholm.

In 2019 Liu was embroiled in a political scandal over her previous ties to organisations linked to the Chinese Communist Party.

According to Liu, she had been involved with the United Chinese Commerce Association of Australia, the Australian Jiangmen General Commercial Association Inc, and the Guangdong Overseas Exchange Association which had ties to the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department.

Liu has since resigned from all of these organisations and has been critical of the Chinese Communist Party.

In a media release on May 28, Liu expressed grave concern over the Hong Kong National Security legislation and called on the Chinese regime to respect the legally binding Joint Declaration of 1984 that ensured Hong Kong freedoms.

Victoria’s BRI Deal Still Going Forward Despite Delays

Speaking to the Epoch Times on June 1, a spokesperson for the Victorian government said that the Belt and Road Initiative would be “delayed because of the coronavirus.”

The spokesperson also said: “There will be a road map developed that will determine the way forward—but as the Premier has said any next steps will be focussed on Victorian jobs.”

According to the spokesperson, all building projects are done by Victorian workers and are publicly available.

The Victorian government has come under increasing scrutiny for its involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative and the Andrews’ government’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

The prime minister said on May 26 that the federal government did not support the decision of the Victorian government to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

Continuing Morrison said: “It’s always been the usual practice for states to respect and recognise the role of the Federal Government in setting foreign policy. And I think that’s always been a good practice.”

The leader of the Nationals and the leader of the Liberal opposition in Victoria have jointly announced their intention to withdraw Victoria from the Belt and Road Initiative if Michael O’Brien is elected.

Arguing that the deal with China commits Victoria to increase the participation of Chinese state-owned companies in the new infrastructure development program. The Liberals and Nationals explained there was no equal commitment for Victorian firms in China.

The media released stated: “While Chinese Government-owned companies have been given contracts to build the Metro Tunnel, the botched West Gate Tunnel and remove level crossings, Victorian farmers have been slugged by a punitive 80 per cent tariff on barley exports to China.”

O’Brien said that the Liberal Party had assessed the Belt and Road deal and said the party believed that it is not in Victoria’s interests.

“Victoria’s interests must come first. A dud deal that compromises jobs, security, and sovereignty is not a deal that I can support,” said Obrien. “We will maintain a strong trading relationship and partnership with China, based on genuine mutual interests, not secretive political deals.”

Victorian National Party leader Peter Walsh said: “A deep economic and cultural engagement with China is in Victoria’s interests but first we need to get out of this secret MOU that binds Victoria to the political interests of the Chinese Government – against the advice of the Australian Government and independent observers.”