Following the @60Mins @theage & @smh special investigation, Director-General of Security Mike Burgess has issued a statement that ASIO is actively investigating the allegations raised in tonight’s report. Watch the full story: https://t.co/H7yPB2tyyI #60Mins https://t.co/EGePEgJa4r
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) November 24, 2019
Nine’s 60 Minutes program aired the claims on Sunday, citing sources with knowledge of the plot, where Melbourne car dealer “Nick” Zhao, 32, was allegedly cultivated by the Chinese government to run as a Liberal Party candidate.
Mr Zhao allegedly told ASIO about the deal.
He was then reportedly found dead in a Melbourne hotel room in March.
Federal Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie says he was briefed on Mr Zhao’s death as chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security.
“It was surreal, it was like something out of a spy novel happening in Melbourne with impunity,” he told Nine.
Mr Hastie says Australians should be “very concerned” about the alleged plot. “This isn’t just cash in a bag, given for favours, this is a state-sponsored attempt to infiltrate our parliament,” he said.
“Using an Australian citizen and basically run them as an agent of foreign influence in our democratic system. So this is really significant and Australians should be very, very concerned about this.” Mr Hastie has called for a full investigation into Mr Zhao’s death.
“Everyone should be concerned about the way that Nick Zhao died and I think we need a full investigation where we turn over every stone,” he said. “We explore every nook and cranny, we cast as much light into the shadows and make sure that we have a full comprehensive understanding of how he died and why he died.”
The revelation of the alleged plot comes after 60 Minutes aired the claims of self-proclaimed Chinese spy Wang “William” Liqiang.
Nine newspapers reported Mr Wang has provided Australia’s counter-espionage agency ASIO with details of how China’s senior military intelligence officers fund and conduct political interference operations in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Australia.
Chinese police say Mr Wang is a convicted fraudster.