Former Victorian Premier Teams up With Chinese Businessman for Next Career Move

Former Andrews political advisor Marty Mei has an extensive CV with Beijing-linked entities.
Former Victorian Premier Teams up With Chinese Businessman for Next Career Move
Former Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews speaks to the media at a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, on July 27, 2021. (Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)
Nick Spencer
Former Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has kicked off his post-politics life by launching a career in the private sector, establishing two new companies with him as the sole director. 
According to records held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Mr. Andrews registered Glencairn Street Pty Ltd on Jan. 17, and Wedgetail Partners Pty Ltd a day after on Jan. 18. 
Both entities share the same operating address on St. Kilda Road in inner-city Melbourne. 
ASIC lists Mr. Andrews as the sole shareholder in Glencairn Street but one of two major shareholders in Wedgetail Partners, the other being Chinese-Australian businessman Marty (Zheng) Mei. 
Both Mr. Mei and Mr. Andrews have yet to comment publicly on the intricacies of their future business dealings. The nature of the businesses is also left absent in the ASIC filings.

Marty (Zheng) Mei’s Links to Beijing

Mr. Mei first came to Australia as an international student in 2006. 
His background includes working for Mr. Andrews as the government’s consultant on the Belt and Road Initiative—a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) scheme to expand Beijing’s global influence through foreign investment. 
Before that, Mr. Mei served as an electorate officer in Victoria after working in corporate finance for Southwest International Securities, an investment bank based out of Hong Kong with links to the Chinese regime. 
According to Bloomberg, a number of the bank’s board members are CCP members. 
Mr. Mei has also worked for China State Television (CCTV), the CCP’s primary state broadcaster. 
Mr. Mei was credited for his role in securing a $100,000 donation to the Australian Labor Party (ALP) from the Hunan Business Association, an organisation he sits on the board of. The donation was made as a campaign contribution to Mr. Andrews’ initial run for premier in 2014. 
Mr. Mei also played a key role in brokering a controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) deal between the Andrews government and Beijing in 2018. 

Belt And Road Initiative

The BRI is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted in 2013 as a means of furthering the CCP’s status as a global superpower capable of exercising significant leverage in international affairs.
The scheme’s official purpose is to bridge economic interdependence in China through the extension of credit and stimulus packages to developing nations. 
The scheme has drawn accusations of “debt-trap diplomacy”—where a creditor nation takes ownership of a debtor nation’s assets if they default on their obligations.
Former Tanzanian President John Magafuli once described the BRI loan terms imposed on his country as “tough conditions that can only be accepted by mad people,” upon halting the construction of a BRI-funded port project in Tanzania. 
As of August 2023, 155 countries were listed as BRI signatories.
In Oct. 2018, Mr. Andrews signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Although not a legally binding document, the memorandum suggested Victoria’s collaboration on BRI projects.
Mr. Andrews defended the deal in the name of more jobs and opportunities.
“With the biggest infrastructure program in our state’s history underway, we have the design and delivery skills China is looking for, meaning more jobs and more trade and investment for Victorians,” Mr. Andrews said
“In four years we have more than tripled Victoria’s share of Chinese investment in Australia and nearly doubled our exports to China. We said we’d reboot our relationship with China and we’re getting it done.”
A year later in Oct. 2019, the Victorian government signed a Framework Agreement with the NDRC to expedite Chinese state investment in Australian infrastructure and innovation.
Both agreements have since been discontinued by the former Morrison Coalition government, with then-Foreign Minister Marise Payne deeming them at odds with the Australian national interest.