Chinese property firm Yuhu hires ex-deputy premier Andrew Stoner

By Sean Nicholls

Updated 18 November 2015

A China-based property firm that has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Australian political parties has added former deputy premier Andrew Stoner to its payroll eight months after he left Parliament.

Mr Stoner has started a part-time, paid advisory position with Yuhu Group Australia, according to advice tabled by the NSW parliamentary ethics adviser, John Evans.

Former NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner has started a part-time, paid advisory position with Yuhu Group Australia.

Yuhu Group has previously hired former NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal and also mysteriously paid thousands of dollars to settle a legal dispute for Labor Senator Sam Dastyari.

Mr Stoner has told Mr Evans the role involves “providing advice on suitable investments in the agribusiness sector and export of agribusiness products” but not lobbying government.

A screengrab of one of the photographs of former deputy premier Andrew Stoner on the Yuhu Group website. (Cannot publish; view link)

In his advice, Mr Evans also says Mr Stoner has advised him that he “did not have any official dealings with [Yuhu] during your last two years of office”.

However, Yuhu’s website carries a report and photographs of Mr Stoner attending a “Chinese Business Leader Roundtable Meeting” at NSW Parliament in April 2014 when he was deputy premier and trade minister.

The roundtable was attended by then premier Barry O’Farrell, Yuhu chairman Xiangmo Huang, Yuhu general manager Holly Huang and other Chinese business leaders.

On Tuesday, Mr Stoner said he recalled the meeting but was not aware a Yuhu representative was present. He would now inform Mr Evans of the fact.

A photo from the Yuhu Group website showing former deputy premier Andrew Stoner (indicated) standing near Mr Xiangmo Huang, the Yuhu Group chairman.  (view article link)

Mr Stoner suddenly resigned as deputy premier and trade minister in October 2014 before quitting Parliament at the March 2015 election.

In May, Fairfax Media revealed Mr Stoner breached the ministerial code of conduct by failing to seek advice from the ethics adviser before accepting an advisory role with investment bank Moelis Australia.

He only sought the advice after he accepted the part-time position and following media inquiries.

Yuhu manages and owns commercial real estate including the Eastwood shopping centre and office towers in North Sydney.

Australian Electoral Commission records show YuHu Group (Australia) declared donations of $670,000 to the Liberal and Labor parties during 2013-14, mostly before the 2013 federal election.

Mr Roozendaal, a former state secretary of the NSW ALP, now works as Yuhu Australia vice-president.

In March, it was reported that Yuhu paid a sum believed to be $5000 to settle a legal dispute between Senator Dastyari and an advertising company, Diversified Communications.

The dispute related to campaign advertising work promised to Diversified Communications by Senator Dastyari when he was NSW ALP general secretary.

The payment was later publicly disclosed on Senator Dastyari’s register of senators’ interests as “support for settlement of outstanding legal matter provided by Yuhu Group Pty Ltd”.