Billionaire Huang Xiangmo’s political influence has extended directly into the NSW parliament with revelations that a serving NSW MP filed documents for an organisation headed by the Chinese Communist party-aligned businessman while acting as its adviser.
Labor MP Ernest Wong filed and signed off on financial documents for the Australian Guangdong Chamber of Commerce (AGCC) headed by two major Labor donors, including Mr Huang.
Mr Wong also listed his parliamentary email on the NSW Department of Fair Trading documents he lodged on behalf of the AGCC in November 2014.
Mr Wong filed the documents even though the organisation is directed by several wealthy businessmen, including at least two multimillionaires, with ready access to lawyers and translators.
The revelations come after Fairfax Media and Four Corners exposed an ASIO warning to Australia’s major political parties in 2015 about accepting donations from Mr Huang, who has donated generously to Labor and the coalition since arriving in 2011.
Mr Wong’s role assisting the Mr Huang-chaired AGCC provides further evidence of the close ties Mr Huang has struck with local politicians amid growing concerns about China’s attempts to influence Australian politics.
ASIO confidentially warned the major parties and their leaders in 2015 and 2016 that Mr Huang’s close ties to the Chinese Communist Party may mean his donations may serve as a vehicle to further Beijing’s aims.
However, on Sunday Mr Wong defended filing the AGCC’s paperwork and providing parliamentary contact details because he was approached by the group “in my capacity as an elected representative”.
Paul Han, Bill Shorten, Simon Shuo Zhou and Ernest Wong (far right) at a 2016 election press conference. Photo: Supplied
He said his role as an MP involves “engaging with, and assisting members of the community.”
“As you can appreciate, it can be particularly helpful to members of the Chinese community who do not have English as a first language,” he said.
Labor MP Ernest Wong’s contact details are listed as the person lodging a summary of financial affairs for the Australian Guangdong Chamber of Commerce.
Mr Wong said was simply “assisting a linguistic and cultural deficient ethnic group in liaising with NSW Government and Community Departments, for the purpose of reporting their annual activity right” and did not provide day-to-day advice.
Mr Wong said he resigned as an honorary adviser after lodging the documents and has not lodged further paperwork for the chamber of commerce.
In November 2012, prior to Mr Wong’s May 2013 placement into the NSW upper house by the state ALP to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Eric Roozendaal, Mr Huang and a second Chinese businessman Luo Chuangxiong, donated $300,000 to the NSW ALP. In August 2013, the two businessmen donated a total of $250,000 to the NSW ALP.
Mr Luo is the AGCC’s director while both Mr Luo and Mr Huang are on the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, a communist party-aligned lobby group. Mr Wong is an adviser to the council.
The AGCC’s most recently appointed public officer Leo Yang took on the role in October 2016. In November Mr Yang declared a $35,000 donation to NSW Labor made the previous May.
Mr Yang has been implicated in an alleged multimillion tax scam involving gold dealing.
In March 2013, Mr Wong wrote a letter of support to help Mr Huang secure a work visa for a Chinese employee with his property company, Yuhu.
The Migration Review Tribunal later rejected the application because the proposed job referred to was not genuine.
Documents released to Fairfax media by the NSW Department of Fair Trading show Mr Wong lodged paperwork for the Australian Guangdong Chamber of Commerce in November 2014, just weeks after it was registered as an association in September.
Mr Wong listed his NSW parliament email address as his contact point in the documents.
The previous month, in the presence of Mr Huang, Mr Wong helped unveil an AGCC plaque at a ceremony in NSW Parliament House in light of the state’s longstanding sister city relationship with Guangdong.
Among those attending the ceremony was then trade minister and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner, who it emerged a year later had accepted a part-time paid advisory role with Mr Huang’s property firm, Yuhu, shortly after leaving politics.
Mr Wong’s involvement with the AGCC came a year after he was parachuted into the state upper house to replace Mr Roozendaal.
In early 2014 it emerged that Mr Roozendaal, who is also a former general secretary of the NSW Labor party, had been appointed vice-president of Yuhu after he quit parliament in May 2013.
Two months earlier, in March 2013, Mr Roozendaal had travelled to China at the invitation of Mr Huang to tour some of Yuhu’s projects.
By Nick McKenzie, Sean Nicholls