Mr Zhao was later found dead after contacting domestic spy agency the Australian Security and Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) about the alleged plot.
Senator Paterson said Mr Wang’s plea for protection from Australia should be accepted if all of his claims were substantiated.
“It is difficult to imagine more profoundly serious allegations than these, particularly that an Australian citizen who was a Liberal Party member received an attempt of foreign interference, disclosed that to ASIO, and subsequently has died,” Senator Paterson told Sky News.
“He (Mr Zhao) was a member in one of my patron seats, I don’t have a strong memory of him. I think Australia just has to be really assertive about our sovereignty here. There can be no excuse for being weak or insecure about securing our national interest just because someone is a significant trading partner.”
“It’s worse than I feared. I didn’t think anyone, allegedly, would would go to the lengths of trying to run someone in parliament to try to be an agent in the federal parliament. That would be a profound blow to our national interests and security of that were to be done.”
Senator Paterson said there was no evidence to suggest any one in federal parliament had received money from the Chinese government.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said he was “not in a position to make a statement on operational matters” but insisted the government was taking the matter “very seriously”.
But he said Australia had an Australia had an interest in having a positive and constructive relationship with China
“We have an important economic relationship with China. We have an important overall relationship with China,” Senator Cormann told Sky News.
“But by the same token it has to be a relationship between sovereign nations and we will continue to call out any issues and deal with any issues as they arise.”
A spokesman for the Morrison government said it took the allegations of foreign interference and espionage seriously, and ASIO was actively investigating the matter.
“Every application for protection is assessed on its merits according to our robust laws and processes,” the government spokesman said.
The nation’s top intelligence officer Mike Burgess last night confirmed that ASIO was taking “seriously” allegations the Chinese government had tried to get a spy elected for the Liberal Party in a marginal Melbourne seat.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said on Monday morning he was not surprised by allegations China tried to plant a spy in parliament.
“I know the Chinese, in one way or another, have been trying to infiltrate our parliament, whether online or directly through politicians,” he told the Seven Network.
“We must be resolute and strong and realise this is the new world order we are living in.”
Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said he understood why Mr Wang’s claims were shocking to Australians.
But he stressed the foreign interference laws Australia passed last year and the extra resources given to security agencies had ensured the government was well positioned to counter the threats.
“These stories are of concern and that’s why we have the appropriate agencies undertaking the appropriate investigations,” he told Sky News.
“We have to back in the systems and processes. When it comes to claims for asylum that are made, it will be thoroughly and properly [assessed] according to the merits of that evidence that supports it and that will lead to a determination and process.”
“I can assure viewers that the process is in place and the system is working as it should in assessing the applications.”
Crossbench senator Rex Patrick said he had been calling for a parliamentary inquiry into Chinese influence and he wanted Australian politicians to go through security checks before they were allowed to sit in parliament.
Deputy opposition leader Richard Marles said Australians needed to be confident the country was free from foreign interference.
“We obviously want to understand everything that we can know about this,” Mr Marles told the ABC.
“But on the face of it and what’s in the public domain right now, this is a very, very serious matter.”
Anthony is foreign affairs and national security correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.