Australian federal police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation yesterday raided the home and parliamentary office of a New South Wales (NSW) state politician in an investigation that Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has linked to foreign interference.
NSW Labor Party leader Jodi Mackay said that she would be briefed by the federal police and the intelligence agency, who she said conducted the raids on the home and parliamentary office of Shaoquett Moselmane.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Moselmane had taken nine privately funded trips to China since entering the state parliament in 2009, with disclosure records showing that his transport and hospitality costs were often met by Chinese government officials or agencies.
McKay said that Moselmane’s party membership was being suspended and he would no longer sit in the Labor parliamentary caucus.
Mackay told reporters that the raids were “dreadfully concerning” and that a staff member of Moselmane who was not a Labor member was also caught up in the raids.
Moselmane has not made a public statement on the raids and his lawyers did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
He has not been accused of wrongdoing.
An intelligence agency representative said that it had conducted “search warrant activity” in Sydney as part of an investigation that “does not relate to any specific threat to the community.”
It did not provide any further details of the raids or the reason they took place.
NSW Legislative Council clerk David Blunt said that police executed a search warrant on Moselmane’s parliament office.
“The protocols have been followed rigorously and scrupulously throughout the day,” Blunt said.
It is unusual for the federal police to execute a search warrant inside the state parliament, he said.
Australian Attorney-General Christian Porter, who authorized the search warrants for the intelligence agency, said in a statement that the Australian government “is sharply focused on activity in this area as evidenced by the complete rewrite of the laws applying to espionage and foreign interference and also foreign influence.”
Morrison said that the federal government was “absolutely determined to ensure that nobody interferes with Australia’s activities,” and the actions of the authorities “demonstrate that the threats in this area are real.”
Foreign interference legislation was passed in 2018, spurred in part by a classified report on Chinese influence activity in Australia and sparking anger from Beijing.
Earlier this year, Moselmane resigned as assistant president of the NSW parliament’s Legislative Council after praising Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional reporting by AP
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