McCarthyism Down Under

UPDATE: 5 Eyes media have been amplifying the story. BBC quoted Sydney Morning Herald saying, “No allegations had been proven.” The New York Times, which rarely reports on Australia, ran a staff-written story, writes Joe Lauria.

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a somber press conference on Friday to announce that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) had conducted a raid on a sitting member of the New South Wales parliament all because, so far, he’d said favorable things about China and had gone on junkets to the country.

The Murdoch-owned Australian newspaper reported that the office and Sydney home of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane had been raided because he “has repeatedly praised Beijing, even describing Chinese President Xi Jingping’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as ’emphatic’ and ‘decisive.’”

Moslemane was portrayed as an “extremely serious” threat because he had written about China: “Failure to contain the epidemic could mean thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives would be lost. The combined phenomenal effort of the state and the people in the fight to contain the virus was breathtaking.”   The MP was also deemed a threat because, as The Australian reported: 

“In April, Mr Moselmane resigned as Upper House assistant president after being caught on camera again praising President Xi’s handling of the virus, even as concerns arose that China had underplayed the severity of the crisis.

He has also said China needed to ‘force a change to the rules and create a new world order’. Mr Moselmane was the honorary chair of the Australian Shanghainese Association and a member of the Australian Chinese Association, both linked to Beijing’s secretive network of foreign influence operations known as the United Front.

In one 2015 trip to Shanghai, Mr Moselmane met with the chairwoman of the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference of Songjiang, Jie Ju. That organisation was described by the United States as ‘the highest ranking entity overseeing the United Front system’”. 

The Sydney Morning Herald, which broke the story, reported: “The probe is examining if covert activities or agents directed by the Communist Party of China may have sought to influence Mr Moselmane, his part-time staffer John Zhang, or others in Mr Moselmane’s office and, if that can be proven, whether the politician and his staffers had any knowledge or involvement.” So it’s not proven and he may not have even known about it.

The newspaper thought it necessary to add: “The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age [in Melbourne] is not suggesting the allegations involving Mr Moselmane and his office are proven, only they are the subject of an ASIO and federal police inquiry.”

So far this is all that is known about what Moselmane may have done. Federal police questioned him in his parliamentary office.  Even aggressive prosecutors in the U.S. Department of Justice wait to hold a press conference until formal charges against someone are filed. [UPDATE: Moselmane said Monday that he was not the subject of the investigation.]

Certainty About Implied Guilt

Morrison at official State Visit, Sept. 20, 2019, on South Lawn of White House. (White House/ Shealah Craighead)

Despite having no other publicly available evidence, Morrison said at the press conference: “I think – the actions of the Australian Federal Police and ASIO demonstrate that the threats in this area are real. The need to take action is necessary and the government is absolutely determined to ensure that nobody interferes with Australia’s activities.” 

Morrison added: ““We won’t cop anyone coming and seeking to interfere in our political system, in our energy sector, in any area of perceived area of opportunity for an outside actor. We won’t cop it. We are a resilient people. We will stand up to it. And we will take action, as what you’ve seen today demonstrates.”   

The prime minister spoke with certainty about Moselmane’s implied guilt, when it’s not even known what crimes he may have committed. Such an announcement could have waited until solid evidence of wrongdoing was ready to be made public, unless other motives are involved.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported: If Mr Moselmane is charged, he will be the first person to face legal action under the Federal Government’s legislation to counter foreign interference. The ABC has previously been told that national security organisations have been ‘chomping at the bit’ to get a few scalps.’ The AFP and ASIO statements said, despite the raids, there was ‘no current or impending threat to community safety.'”

Then came the kicker from AFP and ASIO: “As this investigation remains ongoing, there will be no further comment.” The investigation has always been ongoing so one wonders why any comment was made at all, let alone a press conference by the prime minister speaking about “threats” that the police say don’t exist. 

The legislation to counter foreign interference is supposed to be applied to all countries. The country that interferes most in Australian affairs is clearly the United States, a fact well-known by China, which might want to bring Australia closer to Beijing and further from a threatening Washington.

Suspended

The reaction of Moselmane’s party was no better.  The opposition showed it was a good soldier by suspending him and banning him from its caucus.

Jodi McKay, the NSW opposition leader, said “It’s dreadfully concerning. It’s terrible. There is an expectation on MPs that whatever they do is in the best interest of this state.” She then said his suspension from the party was underway.

Inevitably, the United States, the ringleader of the anglophone Five Eyes intelligence system (U.S., Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand) played a subtle role in describing the Chinese People’s Consultative Conference of Songjiang, which Moselmane met with, as  “the highest ranking entity overseeing the United Front system,'” described by The Australian as “Beijing’s secretive network of foreign influence operations.” At this point, this seems to be classic guilt by association.

Five Eyes Media

Five Eyes media has been amplifying the story. The BBC reported it, quoting The Sydney Morning Herald as saying that “the investigation had been running for months. No allegations had been proven, the newspaper reported.”  The New York Times, which rarely reports on Australia, ran a staff-written report about a local politician saying, “Australian authorities raided the home and office of a state lawmaker on Friday as part of a sweeping investigation into allegations of a Chinese government plot to manipulate the country’s politics and policy.” 

In Canada, Sam Cooper, national security reporter for the TV network Global News, published 19 tweets on Moselmane.

Cooper is the correspondent who relied on a secret Canadian intelligence document to report falsely that Consortium News was “part of a cyber-influence campaign directed by Russia.”

A man’s reputation may be being sacrificed on the altar of the new Cold War against China emanating from Washington and eagerly followed by Canberra. Moselmane may or may not be guilty of a crime. But at this stage of speculation, it is scurrilous to portray him as a threat, to suspend him from his party and smear him when he has so far committed no “crime” except saying favorable things about China and traveling there. 

That Morrison wouldn’t wait until the state had evidence to present—if there is any—is indeed evidence of a campaign to smear a politician in the midst of Australia’s and America’s orchestrated anti-China campaign, even though it runs against Australia’s economic interests.

It has become a lynch-pin of Donald Trump’s re-election efforts to deflect blame to China for his nearly criminal mishandling of the pandemic (in which he’s threatening lives with public rallies and insisting on holding the Republican Party convention in August.)

“It looks as though Moselmane is being purged for his publicly expressed  favorable  political views on China,” said Tony Kevin, a former Australian ambassador to two countries and a Consortium News contributor. “Even if ASIO and AFP do not discover any evidence of foreign interference in his activities, he is destroyed anyway as a Labor politician. It looks like pure McCarthyism.”

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers. He began his professional career as a stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe .

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34 comments for “McCarthyism Down Under

  1. Tim
    June 28, 2020 at 16:22

    One little bright spot: this will probably provide The JuiceMedia with material for another “Honest Government ad” about another example of Australian “shitfuckery”®

  2. SRH
    June 28, 2020 at 14:48

    “There is an expectation on MPs that whatever they do is in the best interest of this state.” No, that’s not what democracy means at all, Jodi McKay. It’s the people an MP answers to, not the state, unless the government is authoritarian.

  3. WMad
    June 28, 2020 at 05:24

    Might is right, forget about the niceties of diplomacy, even reasoned, logical argumentation. The US can and does browbeat its “vassals”, maybe lapdogs into accepting anything. Yes, the Israeli situation is all the more glaring as the plight of the Palestinians is of no consequence whatsoever to the Five Eyes, despite the massive contradictions behind democratic pronouncements. Ironically serious erosion of democratic rights is legendary in the Five Eyes, especially with regard to indigenous populations and the nonwhite Other. Not to mention the wars (and destruction) that have not only claimed millions of lives, but also compromised the existential conditions of the living. The rest of the Five Eyes, join the chorus when simple objections are raised in defense of the abused, powerless, and exploitable nonwhite Other

  4. Southern
    June 27, 2020 at 18:57

    Shaoquett Moselmane wasn’t the first to have his reputation ruined – Remember Gough Whitlam, from the moment if his unjust dismissal Canberra was transferred into a pedigree poodle club where it’s DNA ancestry could be traced back to the wardog’s of Neo-Con-Liberal Washington.

    Suffer no illusions – just like the US has a Duopoly so does everyone of her vassal states – the description of a sacrificial lamb appears to be entirely accurate.

    Andrew Wilkie is a former Asio whistle blower who contested the WMD’s in Iraq subsequently had his intelligence career ruined.

    Kevin Rudd former Labor PM was removed by an inner party coup since he was considered far to friendly with China – [He even speaks Mandarin] – no thanks to the inner party coup he was replaced by the much despised Julia Gillard who was far friendlier towards Washington’s pro war illogical narrative and proved to the world that she was more than willing to do anything to get to the top of the AU duopoly and was far more than willing to cater to Washington’s agenda and committed AU troops to serve the US empire in Afghanistan to 2024 and beyond without blinking – a lot longer than she was in high office – [it does make one wonder who thinks that far ahead, certainly not Gillard]

    ““We won’t cop anyone coming and seeking to interfere in our political system, in our energy sector, in any area of perceived area of opportunity for an outside actor. We won’t cop it. We are a resilient people. We will stand up to it. And we will take action, as what you’ve seen today demonstrates.” – ScoMo

    If outside influence is of such a great concern than Morrisson’s hypocrisy is blindingly obvious considering Washington’s pledging allegiance to Israel or for the Morrisson led Canberra poodle club catering to Washington’s illogical fascist demands – [Who’s your daddy ScoMo?]

    Least Kevin Rudd didn’t play into Washington’s hand – The Australian economy was booming while trade with China was at it’s peak – No thanks to following Washington’s illogical pivot to Asia under Obama this is no longer the norm [ its currency devalued – the economy is in tatters and since international travel is presently restricted farmers might experience a shortage of multinational labour to work on their farms.]

    It ought to be considered treasonous to ruin such a mutually beneficial relationship for the sake of climbing a few more steppingstones towards securing a lucrative future appointment in the corporate world.

    What’s all this talk about the Chinese communist party? In the end China’s powerelite are devout capitalist who appear to be using the Communist party to keep the workers in perpetual checkmate.

    Even though China like the Russian federation have become capitalist that isn’t good enough for the Neo-Liberals since first of all they’ve actually become far better at capitalism than the US and second to that they’ve refused to roll over and play nice – thirdly – not least because there is stupendous amount of gold in both those countries that triggers Washington’s true masters to start salivating like a bulldog at the mere thought of it – lets mention that the US has a dark history of confiscating other people’s countries gold bullion – for safe keeping which is double speak for it’s safe and they’re keeping it.

  5. jaycee
    June 27, 2020 at 15:34

    It’s a useful point of comparison to look at this situation and the outrage directed at the proposed Hong Kong security law.

    In this situation an Australian member of parliament is censured and apparently under criminal investigation for making a fairly accurate observation recently, and for meeting briefly with a Chinese outreach official five years ago. In Hong Kong’s case, “pro-democracy” activists visited the United States several times last year and met directly with senior US government officials and engaged in dialogue over proposed legislation to enact sanctions and visa restrictions directed at officials in both Hong Kong and mainland China. These activists then returned to Hong Kong and advocated for the US legislation during protests, and drew up lists of names of officials they wanted the US to sanction.

    It goes without saying that according to the Five Eyes/EU, Australia’s reaction is honourable and necessary while China’s reaction is outrageous and a grave violation of civil and human rights. It is truly a counter-factual post-integrity era we live in.

  6. Stevie Boy
    June 27, 2020 at 08:13

    So where was the fat tosser while Australia was burning, in Hawaii ! Shades of the Emperor Nero …
    Five eyes intelligence – There’s no semblance of intelligence amongst this group of playground bullies, who in their right mind would go out of their way to antagonise their closest and biggest trading partner, surely not the PM of the country ?

  7. TFS
    June 27, 2020 at 05:53

    John Pilger:

    hXXp://johnpilger.com/articles/the-cia-coup-against-the-most-loyal-ally-is-history-s-warning-in-2020

  8. Southernfink
    June 27, 2020 at 05:14

    Shaoquett Moselmane wasn’t the first to have his reputation ruined – Remember Gough Whitlam, from the moment if his unjust dismissal Canberra was transferred into a pedigree poodle club where it’s DNA ancestry couold be traced back to the NeoLiberal Washington.

    Also time to step back in time and refresh everyone memories that Kevin Rudd was removed by an inner party coup since he was far to friendly to China – no thanks to the inner party coup he was replaced by the much despised Julia Gillard who proved to the world that she was more than willing to do anything to get to the top of the AU duopoly and was far more more willing to accommodate Washington’s narrative whims and even committed AU troops to serve the US in Afghanistan to 2024 and beyond – and that is a lot longer than she was in high office.

    ““We won’t cop anyone coming and seeking to interfere in our political system, in our energy sector, in any area of perceived area of opportunity for an outside actor. We won’t cop it. We are a resilient people. We will stand up to it. And we will take action, as what you’ve seen today demonstrates.”

    If outside influence is of such a great concern than Morrisson’s hypocrisy is blindingly obvious considering Washington’s pledging allegiance to Israel or for the Morrisson led Canberra poodle club catering to Washington’s illogical fascist demands – [Who’s your daddy Scomo?]

    Least Kevin Rudd realized that China was the goose with the golden egg – Australians never had it so good while trade with China was at it’s peak – now no thanks to following Washington’s illogical lead the economy is in shatters and the ports are idle.

    It ought to be considered treasonous to ruin such a mutually beneficial relationship for the sake of climbing a few more steppingstones towards securing a lucrative future appointment in the corporate world.

    In the end – Even though China like the Russian federation have become capitalist that isn’t good enough because first of all they’ve actually become far better at capitalism than the US and second to that they’ve refused to roll over and play nice – thirdly – not least because there is stupendous amount of gold in both those countries that causes Washington’s true masters to start salivating like a bulldog at the mere thought of it and the US has a sordit history of confiscating other people’s countries gold bullion.

    I could go on but it will get too long – In the end Conservatives depend on having an enemy in order to stay in power.

  9. Zhu
    June 27, 2020 at 03:56

    White Australians have been irrationally hostile to China and the Chinese for centuries by now.

  10. Zhu
    June 27, 2020 at 03:38

    It looks as IFVAFP and ASIO are the real threats.

  11. George Wendell
    June 26, 2020 at 23:20

    One of the things Moselmane is accused of doing in the SMH newspaper is praising ‘Beijing’s leadership during the coronavirus crisis’. It appears that freedom of speech in Australia now counts as a suspected crime, only fascist narrow minded ideology will be tolerated.

    Let’s note that Donald Trump praised China often including Xi Jinping 15 times earlier this year. Here is just one comment:

    “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!”

    The other 14 comments listed by date that he made are listed here:

    hXXps://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/15/trump-china-coronavirus-188736

    Funny how Trump attracted no comments from Australian media or the Morrison government for doing the same as Moselmane .

  12. George Wendell
    June 26, 2020 at 22:17

    It is well known that Murdoch’s News Corp and the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Nine Entertainment) have all been part of the collusion to fulfil this newest mission to vilify a Labor politician and besmirch China (for any reason possible) once again. Of course Liberals who have connections to China are never treated with the same vilification techniques or even discussed in the same media. Within a short period of time three articles appeared in the SMH, one a glossy presentation that must have been prepared days earlier, you could not put it together in such a short time. I think it was accidently put up too early because it was quickly retracted for 24 hours. This followed after another week of utter propaganda thrown at China including from Malcolm Turnbull and George Brandis (both Liberals). Of course the media was tipped off for the raids and at the ready and guess who the AFP’s new Director of Communications is? Renee Viellaris, ex-Murdoch Courier mail and Sky News favourite of Peter Dutton and the rest of the ultra-right Liberals.

    How sweet it is.

  13. Mendax
    June 26, 2020 at 21:46

    The Australian Liberal Party has a long history using ASIO & the Australian Federal Police for political means.

    This case is clearly another.

  14. Daniel Harkinson
    June 26, 2020 at 20:33

    This article is written it would seem by the CCP propaganda dept. It makes me wonder about this whole site to be honest, there is a clear difference in the way a regular person speaks and writes and the concise propaganda you are spewing here. I imagine these commenst5 are crafted carefully and mine will be deleted.

    • Tony Kevin
      June 27, 2020 at 05:03

      No such luck, sunshine – we can all see how stupid your comments are. Tony Kevin.

    • SRH
      June 28, 2020 at 14:52

      Errr… really, Daniel? I write this in the UK on 28th June and your comment is still up. You seem to have no argument to make, merely an allegation as unsubstantiated as the ones levelled at Shaoquett Moselmane MP. Would you care to make a further comment now?

    • TS
      June 28, 2020 at 15:36

      > clear difference in the way a regular person speaks and writes and the concise propaganda

      Gee, guess what? He isn’t a “regular person”, stupid, but a renowned journalist with many years’ experience!

  15. June 26, 2020 at 19:37

    Part of what Australia’s mini-me Trump said is true. This part: “I think – the actions of the Australian Federal Police and ASIO demonstrate that the threats in this area are real. The need to take action is necessary…”.

  16. Wallaby more like WallaNOT
    June 26, 2020 at 19:13

    So in large part due to the influence of a foreign nation, the Australian government is going to charge one of its members for the crime of being influenced by a foreign nation?

    • Dianne Foster
      June 28, 2020 at 03:33

      Excellent point!

  17. Andrew Thomas
    June 26, 2020 at 15:08

    Australia appears to be exactly what John Pilger has been describing for years. Given what an outstanding, scrupulously honest reporter he is, that is no surprise. Still, when you see something like this, there comes with it an element of shock. Even though you tell yourself that it can and will get worse, when it does you discover that you had some hope in you that you couldn’t access until it was attacked.

  18. Charles
    June 26, 2020 at 13:49

    No, it is not just that the man spoke favorably about China and visited it. The Australian Broadcast Corporation “reports that Mr Moselmane’s office had allegedly been infiltrated by Chinese government agents.”
    htXXps://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-26/nsw-labor-mp-shaoquett-moselmane-home-raided-by-police/12395712
    To be sure, it is an allegation at this stage, a rather more serious one than merely parroting China’s political line.

    • Consortiumnews.com
      June 26, 2020 at 14:16

      Even in the United States the Department of Justice will wait to have such a press conference when someone is indicted, not at this stage of an investigation.

    • Moi
      June 26, 2020 at 17:37

      Charles, the ABC has been demonising China with increasing ferocity for months. They blithely ignore US interference in Australian politics, demands that Oz expend blood and treasure fighting US wars of aggression and uphold each and every unilaterally imposed sanction or face the consequences. China’s limited trade retaliation marks them as a pussy compared to the US.

      Then as one of the Five Eyes, Australian intelligence has access to all forms of Chinese communications yet the ABC screamed that China was likely responsible for recent hacking of State institutions even though the government declined to name anyone.

      In the eyes of this Australian government media organisation, China can do no right. I’d be surprised if the ABC had a single positive article about China this year.

      IMHO the ABC is racist. They certainly ignore the statutory obligations for balanced reporting prominent in their charter.

    • Tony Kevin
      June 26, 2020 at 18:43

      But what if that is all it is, Charles ? What if they find nothing as they found nothing when they ransacked the Australian reporter’s flat ? (Setting aside your prejudiced language of “parroting China’’s political line”? Isn’t Mr Moselmane allowed to express views in public that support China? Was I “parroting” China’s and Russia’s political line when I said to the PJCFADT last week that my views on the international order generally agreed with Chinese and Russian views?

    • Charles
      June 26, 2020 at 23:29

      Moi says, “the ABC has been demonising China” etc. etc. Your conclusion is consistent with the tone of the cited ABC article — and of no bearing on whether the MP has done as alleged. Is it a fact or not that the MP appointed John Zhang to his parliamentary office at the beginning of 2019? Is it a fact or not that Zhang trained at Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Governance, a school of party members? These specifics are what matter in the allegation against the MP, not the bias of the ABC. Mao Zedong put great importance on “seek truth from facts.” Too many lazy leftists find his advice too onerous.

    • Zhu
      June 27, 2020 at 03:46

      “infiltration” is what? Some Chinese take-out wrappers in the trash can?

    • Moi
      June 27, 2020 at 17:10

      Charles, the point is that it’s all just _allegations_ with no evidence of wrongdoing whatsoever. Allegations with zero proof are all the ABC ever has. Then the other day, after incessant demonisation, this racist agency had the hide to run a gloating story about how Australian people’s trust in China has dropped precipitously.

      Lauria is spot on by labeling such drivel “McCarthyism” which is, funnily enough, what this article is about.

      To the best of my MSM-derived knowledge, Moselmane has done nothing wrong except be a fan of China, which is probably why he hired Zhang over other candidates. I, for one, could not give a damn where Zhang trained, only what he’s actually done – which so far seems to be nothing.

    • SRH
      June 28, 2020 at 14:54

      Allegation so far with not the slightest evidence. Yet the evidence for the USA’s influence over Australia is all-encompassing. It even has military bases there and, along with the UK government, removed a democratically elected prime minister from office for being a bit lefty.

    • Iom
      June 29, 2020 at 08:45

      Charles, this article is about McCarthyism and the MSM.

      To the best of my MSM-derived knowledge, Moselmane has done nothing wrong except be a fan of China, while Zhang is simply being accused of being a CCP member. This is McCarthyism pure and simple and the ABC is leading the charge among the MSM.

      Note that the ABC has a _statutory_ duty to provide balanced reporting so by demonising China this publicly-funded mouthpiece of the Australian government is breaking the law pretty much every day and getting away with it. If only the Feds would investigate that instead of harassing public figures who haven’t done a thing wrong except become targets for McCarthyism.

      To cap it off, the other day, after incessant demonisation this racist agency had the hide to run a gloating story about how Australian people’s trust in China has dropped precipitously this year.

      I guess that proves the saying “throw enough mud and some will stick.”

  19. Jack Flanigan
    June 26, 2020 at 11:55

    Morrison is either a liar or a hypocrite (might I suggest both). I have reservations about China. Without enumerating my concerns here my present concern is the shallow hypocrisy of our government, the opposition and primarily, our Prime Minister.

    The UK and the US have constantly interfered in Australian government policies. We welcomed interference in the 1975 US/UK putsch coup engineered by those countries resulting in the overthrow of our elected government. Pathetic, pathetic, pathetic and stupid. Morrison is full of bull****. As it seems we all are-we elect our governments.

    jack Flanigan

    • thestarl
      June 26, 2020 at 20:19

      Exactly Jack and this is the same government that leased the port of Darwin to the Chinese on a 99 year lease then the minister responsible for the deal Andrew Robb left politics to work for that Chinese company on 800k a year.
      Can’t make this shit up.

  20. Sam F
    June 26, 2020 at 11:41

    The results of investigation should be made available promptly.
    Official statements and party actions should have awaited publicly available evidence.
    Carelessness does suggest McCarthyism, proclaiming guilt by association or even for diplomacy.

  21. Skip Scott
    June 26, 2020 at 11:19

    It’s funny how just speaking favorably of China is “foreign interference”, yet Netanyahu can speak to our Congress openly calling for war with Iran and contradicting our current President’s foreign policy and all the our “representatives” dance like puppets on strings and our MSM has nothing to say about “foreign interference”.

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