Multimillion-dollar offer from alleged Chinese agent for a prime spot in CSIRO

Prospect Time’s Chief Excutive Brian Chen was particularly interested in leasing an “entire wing” in the CSIRO facility in Parkville, Melbourne.

-CSIRO has spent tens of millions of dollars upgrading its cyber security systems following a 2013 data breach linked to a Chinese national

Imunexus is researching and developing antibodies

Multimillion-dollar offer from alleged Chinese agent for a prime spot in CSIRO

By Nick McKenziePaul Sakkal and Grace Tobin

November 25, 2019

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A man who allegedly tried to install a Chinese agent into Federal Parliament made a multimillion-dollar offer to take control of a company based in the CSIRO’s building in Australia’s pre-eminent biotechnology hub.

*The chief executive of biotech company Imunexus, George Kopsidas, said a company called Prospect Time International Investment made a lucrative offer in the past two years to invest in his startup company, but was particularly interested in leasing an “entire wing” in the CSIRO facility in Parkville, Melbourne.

Alleged Chinese intelligence operative Brian Chen was negotiating for a stake in a biotech startup.
Alleged Chinese intelligence operative Brian Chen was negotiating for a stake in a biotech startup.

*Prospect Time’s chief executive, occasional Melbourne resident Brian Chen, is alleged to have been involved in a Chinese intelligence-backed scheme for Liberal Party member and Melbourne luxury car dealer Bo “Nick” Zhao, 32, to win a seat in Federal Parliament. Mr Zhao reported the approach to ASIO.

The AgeHerald and 60 Minutes have confirmed from multiple Western security sources that Mr Chen is a suspected senior Chinese intelligence operative, a claim Mr Chen has confirmed was put to him by Australian officials at Melbourne airport in March but which he vehemently denies.


Scott Morrison

Chinese foreign interference allegations ‘deeply disturbing’: Morrison

ASIO chief Mike Burgess issued a statement on Sunday night saying his organisation “takes seriously” and was actively investigating Mr Zhao’s allegations. Mr Chen has denied knowing Mr Zhao or being involved in Chinese intelligence activities, but sources say Australian authorities have determined that Mr Chen had been in contact with Mr Zhao.

*Mr Chen and Prospect Time approached startup Imunexus in June 2017 after the company took second place in a biotechnology competition in Shenzhen, China.

*The company is researching and developing antibodies.

*Mr Kopsidas, the startup’s founder, said Mr Chen offered almost $10 million to buy a majority stake in the company, and claimed he had “hundreds of millions” in financial backing to turn Imunexus’ antibody technology into a saleable product.

“What Brian wanted to do was to start a full-on biotech company in Australia, a pharmaceutical company,” said Mr Kopsidas. “He wanted to develop products and take them into manufacturing and marketing and sales.”

*Imunexus’ laboratory and office is located in a CSIRO building in Melbourne’s biotech hub of Parkville, and Mr Kopsidas said Mr Chen was particularly interested in acquiring office space in the CSIRO facility. “He wanted to lease out an entire wing … he was talking about a significant proportion of the building,” said Mr Kopsidas.

WA bikie boss cleared of murder

*Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst Alex Joske raised security concerns about the CSIRO sharing its premises with foreign-owned companies.*

“It’s much easier to conduct scoping work from inside the building … where you can enter sections of the CSIRO facility without authorisation,” Mr Joske said.

Rory Medcalf, head of the Australian National University’s National Security College, said the proposed deal “certainly raises a lot of questions”.

Mr Chen told Mr Kopsidas his background was in aviation and real estate when they met twice at Mr Chen’s office in 101 Collins Street. Mr Kopsidas said Mr Chen had poor English skills and spoke through two translators.

Negotiations eventually broke down after Imunexus were not satisfied with the terms of the proposed deal. “The deal was very much skewed in Brian’s favour (Chen),” said Mr Kopsidas. “In the end, he just wandered off and we never heard back from him … it was really unusual to us.”

A CSIRO spokesman said the organisation was unaware of Mr Chen’s approach to Imunexus, and said it had mechanisms in place to guard against potential threats from foreign-owned organisations.

“CSIRO undertakes a legal entity check of any third party entities and performs internal approvals for any proposed occupancies to ensure that the tenancies align with CSIRO’s operations,” said the spokesman.

In recent years, the CSIRO has spent tens of millions of dollars upgrading its cyber security systems following a 2013 data breach linked to a Chinese national.


Bo "Nick" Zhao and Brian Chen, who he alleged was trying to get him into Federal parliament.

China tried to plant its candidate in Federal Parliament, authorities believe

Mr Chen leads a complicated life: he has been photographed wearing a Chinese military uniform and has also posed as a journalist with global media while attending international political summits, including the G20 and APEC.

Mr Chen said in an interview he had been pictured in a Chinese military uniform because “some friends joined the army so I borrowed their uniforms to take some photos to show off”. He said he had been given journalist accreditation by a media proprietor to allow him to attend international political summits.

In early 2019, Mr Zhao told two associates that he’d revealed to ASIO how Mr Chen, whose company is also based in Melbourne, had offered to set him up in a new business with a million-dollar capital injection. In return, Mr Zhao said Mr Chen wanted him to run for a seat in Australia’s Parliament in Melbourne’s east.

In March this year, Mr Zhao was found dead in a Melbourne motel room. Local police who have prepared a brief for the coroner have been unable to conclude how he died. There is no suggestion that Mr Chen had any knowledge of or was involved in Mr Zhao’s death.

Alleged Chinese intelligence operative Brian Chen was negotiating for a stake in a biotech startup.

Nick McKenzie

Nick McKenzie is an investigative reporter for The Age. He’s won seven Walkley awards and covers politics, business, foreign affairs and defence, human rights issues, the criminal justice system and social affairs.

Paul Sakkal

Paul is a reporter for The Age.




Bill increasing Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge passes lower house

NOVEMBER 26 2019

ONE extra percentage point increase in the Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge to 8% will mean little to People of either Ultra High Net Worth or High Net Worth … hardly a deterrant!

SEARCH CAAN WEBSITE to find out more about the millions of Billionaires and Millionaires in China … and the burgeoning Chinese Middle Class!

IT has been well known that the lure for foreigners buying real estate in Australia is that they can gain a ‘Permanent Resident Visa’ ..

AND in August 2019 this was revealed in Domain that overseas potential property buyers were approaching local migration agents in Hong Kong seeking Australian residency ahead of buying homes .

ISN’T it likely that this is happening also in Tasmania? 

Georg Chmiel, executive chairman of, the global platform that markets overseas property to the Chinese market (on the mainland and in Hong Kong).

*“It’s more important to obtain legal residency. Expect to see wealthy Hong Kongers first renting in Sydney or at least waiting until they have obtained their visa before they purchase. That way, they can avoid the foreign buyer tax.


MEANWHILE there is an affordable rental crisis for Tasmanians in Hobart!

Hobart is Australia’s least affordable city to rent, worse than Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane

Bill increasing Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge passes lower house

Local News

A bill which will increase the surcharge for foreign investors purchasing residential properties in Tasmania has passed the lower house.

The Duties Amendment Bill 2019 will increase the Foreign Investor Duty Surcharge from 7 per cent to 8 per cent, in line with Victoria and New South Wales.

The FIDS for primary production property will remain at 1.5 per cent as announced in the 2019-20 state budget.


Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the government considered the rates to be fair, reasonable and consistent with surcharges in other jurisdictions.

“While the government welcomes foreign investment in Tasmania, it is important to ensure that foreign investors in Tasmania contribute their fair share and that the property market remains accessible to Tasmanians,” Mr Gutwein said.

The increased surcharge rates will apply to transactions entered into on or after April 1, 2020.

Mr Gutwein said the bill amended provisions relating to the definition of a foreign person to ensure the only persons, companies and trusts that are genuinely foreign pay the surcharge.

“[An] amendment will provide retrospective relief from the surcharge to persons who become Australian citizens or permanent residents within six months of incurring the surcharge,” he said.

Labor finance spokesman David O’Byrne said the bill needed to strike the right balance between ensuring fair taxes are levied on investors who are able to afford it and making sure foreign investors are not driven away.

“When we have bills such as this it’s important to think through the consequences,” Mr O’Byrne said.

Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said the state needed to keep an eye on foreign investors, describing Chinese interest in recent years as a “feeding frenzy”.

“We regard this legislation as a sop to the concern over growing foreign ownership in Tasmania, and a pretty weak one at that,” Ms O’Connor said.

“In the North-West region, more than 30 per cent [of agricultural land] is owned by foreign interests.

“It is a matter of public concern.”




80% of accountants to be automated. So why is Australia importing them?

80% of accountants to be automated. So why is Australia importing them?

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

November 27, 2019 | 18 comments

The CEO of ASX-listed accountancy software company Xero believes 80% of accountancy jobs will be automated:

According to data from asset manager Schroders, there’s an 80 per cent probability that a given accountancy job will be automated within 20 years. So if the profession is to survive, it will have to evolve, warns Steve Vamos.

“The exact make-up of what we call accounting today in 10, 20 years might be very different,” Mr Vamos said…

In 2014, controversy arose after it was revealed that the Abbott Government had chosen to keep accountants on a list of in-demand occupations for skilled migrants.

This decision went against both the Department of Employment’s and the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency’s (AWPA) recommendations to remove accounting from this list due to significant labour surpluses and “deteriorating outcomes for graduates . . . relatively low pay rates for bachelor graduates and weak employment outcomes for masters graduates”.

*By keeping accounting on the skilled occupation list, qualified foreign workers are permitted to apply for a permanent visa into Australia without a sponsor.

Since then, accountants have dominated Australia’s skilled migration intake. In 2017-18, accountants were the biggest single source of permanent skilled migrants, with 3,505 visas granted

Accountants were also the tenth biggest source of temporary skilled migrants, with 1,730 primary visa holders in Australia in 2017-18.

The strong inflow of accountants under Australia’s skilled migration program is curious given the last time Accountants or External Auditor were deemed by the Department of Jobs and Small Business to have been in shortage was 2008.

In fact, according to the Department’s 2017-18 skills shortage report“employers attracted an average of 14.6 qualified applicants per vacancy” for accounting positions. However, because employers preferred candidates with two or more years of experience, “a large proportion of these applicants were considered to be unsuitable”.

If there is a bonafide surplus of accountants across Australia, and this profession is facing widespread automation, why is this occupation included on Australia’s skilled occupations list?

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

80% of accountants to be automated. So why is Australia importing them?




IS DB Agent Gladis L being Protected?

Labor has accused the prime minister of running a "protection racket" for a Liberal MP Gladys Liu.

 Labor has accused the prime minister of running a “protection racket” for a Liberal MP Gladys Liu.

Scummo operating “protection racket” for “double agent” Gladys Liu

By Houses and Holes in Australian PoliticsChina American Cold War

November 27, 2019 | 23 comments

So says Penny Wong buried deep in the Murdoch Press:

Labor has accused the prime minister of running a protection racket for a Liberal MP facing questions about her ties to the Chinese government.

As allegations of Chinese foreign interference swirl around federal parliament, opposition senator Penny Wong is demanding Gladys Liu explain her connection to various Beijing-linked organisations.

“Gladys Liu has refused to give a statement to the parliament. She is being protected from doing so by Mr Morrison,” Senator Wong told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.

Even so, Andrew Bolt resumes his attack:

Australia is finally waking to China’s attempts to infiltrate our political system, with reports that a Beijing-backed espionage ring tried to get a Chinese businessman – now dead – elected into our parliament. But where is Gladys Liu, the Liberal MP that the Morrison Government won’t let give interviews?

China wants Australia “to bend the knee to Beijing” through a concerted effort of “political warfare”, says Dr Malcolm Davis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute:

Bravo. Let’s reprise how Gladys Liu came to power. Ms Liu:

  • occupied senior positions in CCP propaganda outfits;
  • courted and channeled Chinese money opposed to Australian foreign and strategic policy goals into the Government;
  • donated large sums of her “own” cash to help buy the Chisolm electorate;
  • defrauded the ethnic Chinese denizens of Chisolm with fake election signage;
  • refused to personally endorse Australian foreign policy tenets around China;
  • mumbled alarming things about Hong Kong in the Party Room;
  • used and abused the credibility of parliament house to aid campaigns for CCP control;
  • then lied about much of it directly into the face of the Australian people.

Peter Dutton once described Sam Dastayari as a “double agent” for far less. I don’t recall anybody being murdered to open a vacancy for his case candidacy either.

Question: How is it that Ms Liu qualifies as a fit and proper person to be in the Australian Parliament when “double agent” Sam Dastayari does not?

Answer: Ms Liu holds the Morrison Government’s majority in the palm of her hand so here we are.

P.S. If you haven’t yet seen it, check out the full 60 Minutes expose on CCP operations to plant Manchurian candidates in Australia:

Gladys Liu excepted of course.

Houses And Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.




WHY is Mother Earth Driving Towards a Climate Catastrophe?

China drives planet towards climate catastrophe

By Houses and Holes in Carbon Economy

November 27, 2019 | 50 comments

The UN is warning that the globe is headed for a massive overshoot on carbon emissions and associated climate catastrophe:

Global temperatures could rise sharply this century with “wide-ranging and destructive” consequences after greenhouse gas emissions hit record levels last year, international climate experts warned on Tuesday.

The head of the World Meteorological Organization said global temperatures could rise by 3-5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels this century – more than three times agreed limits – if nothing is done to stop rising emissions.

Greenhouse gas emissions surged to a record level last year, the United Nations said in its “Emissions Gap Report”, released ahead of U.N. climate talks in Madrid next week aimed at spurring world leaders to limit climate change.

It measures the amount of emissions cuts needed to limit global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, as agreed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year warned of huge global changes if that target is not met, such as the loss of nearly all coral reefs and most Arctic sea ice.

Under current national pledges to cut emissions, “temperatures can be expected to rise by 3.2C this century, bringing wide-ranging and destructive climate impacts,” said a summary of the report by the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Being a grandfather – we don’t want to leave that for our grandkids,” the report’s lead author John Christensen told a Geneva news conference.

“With 3 degrees we would lose a fairly big fraction of the current (agricultural) yield and areas like Africa where the population is growing would really suffer,” said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas.

The UNEP report said the safest temperature threshold set in Paris – of 1.5C – was still achievable, but would require emissions cuts of 7.6% a year between 2020-2030. Limiting the rise to 2C it would mean annual cuts of 2.7%.

“We are talking about transformational change now – incremental change simply will not make it. We simply need to transform societies in the next 10 years,” Christensen said.

Here’s the overshoot:

The biggest offenders:

With more to come, at Caixin:

Chinese environmental experts have warned that the country’s planned expansion of coal power projects risks hindering global efforts to fight climate change even as the nation remains on track to meet its own international emissions pledges.

The assessment followed last week’s publication of two reports savaging countries’ continued reliance on fossil fuels and questioning China’s credentials as a green leader.

On Thursday, environmental research network Global Energy Monitor (GEM) published a report showing that growth in China’s coal-fired power capacity more than offsets reductions made elsewhere in the world.

The report also said that China’s proposed coal power expansion through 2035 means that its coal power capacity alone could “far exceed” the total capacity allotted to the entire world under the Paris Agreement, which aims to keep global heating below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and shoot for a target of 1.5 C.

That conclusion echoes another report, published Wednesday and co-authored by U.N. Environment Program and other environmental organizations, which showed that the world’s fossil fuel production plans mean that the amount of the polluting fuel produced by 2030 could be 50% greater than a figure consistent with the 2 C target and 120% greater than a 1.5 C pathway.

Three cheers for the CCP!

Which puts us on course for the worst case RCP8.5 scenario:

It is absolutely the case that carbon abatement should be run on per capita basis to be fair. But it is also true that if China just exploits developed economy decarbonisation efforts as an opportunity to destroy the planety then there isn’t much point.

Houses And Holes

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.




Amid BEIJING SPY SCANDAL CHINESE Australians Submit there is no Threat …

IS this in response to ongoing reports from Australia’s intelligence agencies, and now with a Strategic Analyst from ASPI spelling out a step by step account of espionage …

AND a former ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis having issued a stark warning on Chinese influence in the latest edition of the Quarterly Essay

SEARCH CAAN Website for earlier reports of Peter Jennings, ASPI … and an interview with Geraldine Doogue

A little background on Scott Yung …

Chinese state TV lauds Liberal candidate Scott Yung

Mr Yung got into politics after acting as a translator for John Howard when the former prime minister visited Kogarah five years ago. …

Mr Yung made headlines with his response to Labor leader Michael Daley’s remarks about “Asians with PhDs” displacing other Sydney residents.

AND pulled the well-worn ‘race card’

Michael Daley’s comments are racist,” Mr Yung said as he toured the seat with state Treasurer Dominic Perrottet on Wednesday. …


Two of the three Chinese community representatives here happen to be members of the Liberal Party with Scott Yung a Party Candidate in the NSW March Election ... are they deep in the Egyptian River …deNile?

CONTRARY to what they submit … view this report:

‘Australia: Lack of Checks to Stop Foreign Spies being Elected: Expert Warns’

‘Not a threat’: Chinese Australians ask for understanding amid Beijing spy scandal



The alleged Chinese plot to infiltrate Australian parliament is having widespread political ramifications. But there are social implications too; as some Chinese Australians say they are now being perceived as a threat to society.



At a crowded café in Sydney’s bustling Chinatown district sit three men who each say they are feeling the repercussions of China’s alleged attempts to influence Australian politics.

The trio, all Australian citizens with Chinese ancestry, tell SBS the scandal has already impacted their daily lives – despite only being days old.

Scott Yung, founder and president of the Liberal Party Chinese Youth Council, says suspicions against politicians of Chinese ancestry have already hit close to home.

“Around the dinner table, my cousin to my absolute surprise, asked me ‘Scott, don’t some people think in the community that you might be a Chinese spy?’ and I was absolutely shocked by that,” he said.

I was quite hurt.

Mr Yung unsuccessfully ran in the 2019 NSW state election for the Liberal Party.

One of his friends, Jeffery Wang, has been a member of the Liberals since the early 2000s.

Scott Yung, centre, with Warren Wang, left, and Jeffrey Wang, right, in Sydney’s Chinatown district. (Omar Dabbagh/SBS News)SBS News/Omar Dabbagh

Mr Wang believes perceptions over Beijing’s reach and power are creating new stigmas against Chinese Australians.

“It does bother me a little bit in that I feel like sometimes we, Chinese Australians, are sometimes lumped in with the Chinese government for whatever reason,” Mr Wang told SBS News.

“In reality, most Chinese Australians would have very little affinity to the Chinese government. Sometimes they feel like they’re being sort of asked to account of actions of people they don’t know anything about.



Chinese Australians worry they’ve being viewed as a threat to Australian society

Widespread ramifications

Mounting claims against China – which it vehemently denies – have culminated in an ASIO and AFP investigation, adding to already fragile tensions between Canberra and Beijing.

Warren Wang, who moved to Sydney from mainland China in 2012 and recently became an Australian citizen, believes the Chinese Communist Party is trying to wield influence in Australia.


AFP ‘actively investigating’ alleged Chinese spy’s foreign interference claims

But he says the issue cannot be conflated with cultural discrimination.

“The CCP and the Chinese Australians, we should differ these two groups. There are some agents working for the government, working for CCP, but most Australian Chinese people, they are not,” he told SBS News.

“The real concern is that the CCP can be a threat but people are regarding Chinese people as a threat. Which is not correct.”

Last week former Prime Minister Paul Keating was scathing – as he warned against anti-China rhetoric.READ MORE

Chinese defector reportedly provides intelligence trove to Australia

“My concern is that what passes for the foreign policy of Australia lacks any sense of strategic realism and that the whispered word of ‘communism’ of old is now being replaced by the word ‘China’,” he told The Australian Strategic Forum.

Calls for caution and understanding

While describing the spy allegations as “deeply disturbing and troubling”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australians against jumping to any conclusions.

And amid the continuing political rhetoric as intelligence agencies carry out their investigation, some Chinese Australians are asking for understanding – fearing the scandal could have a long-lasting impact on social cohesion.

“Chinese Australians are loyal Australians. They contributed a lot to our country, like all other Australians,” Mr Yung said.

“It’s important to separate those three categories: Chinese Australians, Chinese culture, and dealing with China, the administration themselves.”

‘Enemy of democracy’: Taiwan detains alleged agent linked to Chinese defector

“I don’t believe identity politics is helpful because, quite frankly, we are all individuals. We have very, very different values, ideologies and attitudes,” adds Jeffrey Wang, who is advocating for a concept he describes as “cultural competency”.

“It’s not just the linguistics, but also the cultural context that’s important when you’re communicating,” he explains.

“It’s not just a case of getting the right words but the right cultural context as well.”





IT’s as plain as the nose on your face …

ONCE passing the Party’s vetting process …

support from a foreign power is likely to come in the form of large political donations in the early stages of a candidacy

Fundraising is a really important aspect of Australian politics … as we have already witnessed it is an easy way for a foreign intelligence agency to build up the status of someone and by funnelling donations through third parties … as much as $100,000!

Alleged Chinese plot highlights lack of checks to stop foreign spies being elected, expert warns



A man with his back to camera facing out of a large window.
PHOTO A Member of Parliament who was a spy would seek to blackmail other MPs, according to one expert.UNSPLASH: NATHAN DUMLAO

Planting a foreign spy in Australian Parliament is currently easier than it should be, according to a foreign influence expert, who says there are shockingly few security checks in place.

Key points

  • Nick Zhao was allegedly asked by Chinese intelligence to run as a Liberal candidate, before being found dead in a Melbourne motel room
  • Alex Joske says there is no security clearance process for entering Parliament
  • Former ASIO chief has warned foreign influence may only become apparent once it is too late

ASIO, Australia’s domestic intelligence agency, has announced it is investigating whether Chinese intelligence agencies tried to convince luxury car dealer Bo “Nick” Zhao to run as a Liberal Party candidate with the indebted businessman reportedly offered a seven-figure sum for his cooperation.

In March, after allegedly approaching ASIO, he was found dead in a Melbourne motel room.

A man claiming to be a defector from Chinese intelligence, Wang Liqiang, went public about the plot to put Mr Zhao in Parliament in an interview with 60 Minutes and Nine Newspapers on Sunday.

The Signal

How to plant a spy in Parliament

The Signal is the ABC’s daily news podcast that helps cut through the noise to cover the biggest stories.

A foreign country trying to place a spy into Australian Parliament would not face many obstacles, according to Alex Joske, an analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

“Frankly, there aren’t many checks currently in place that could pick up this kind of activity easily,” he said.

He said political parties do run checks, “but I don’t think they’d have much luck if they’re looking at someone who’d been successfully recruited by a foreign intelligence agency”.

Planting a spy

While we don’t know why Mr Zhao might have been approached by Chinese spies, we do know how a foreign government could try to execute that type of political infiltration.

A selfie photograph of Bo "Nick" Zhao. He is wearing glasses, a dark suit jacket and white t-shirt.

Mr Joske told the ABC’s daily news podcast, The Signal, which countries he believed would be capable of that level of espionage.

“Russia for example, but I don’t think there’s any country that engages in such high levels in Australia apart from China,” he said.

He explained the first step for a foreign power is finding the right person.

“You’re looking for someone who could plausibly present themselves in political circles, someone who speaks the local language, has at least a couple of years in the country and is relatively intelligent,” he said.

“You’d be trying to work out where the real levers in politics are, what constituencies can be exploited, what easy and normalised ways are there to quickly build influence in the political world.”

Once a candidate has passed the party’s vetting process, it’s a matter of getting them elected.

*The support from a foreign power is likely to come in the form of large political donations in the early stages of a candidacy.

*”Fundraising is a really important aspect of Australian politics and that would be a relatively easy way for a foreign intelligence agency to build up the status of someone they were hoping to get into Parliament, by funnelling donations through third parties,” he said.

An easy target

*The recruitment and election process might be one of the more difficult steps because once you’re in Parliament it’s a much easier ride.

Chinese flags fly high outside the Australian Parliament House in Canberra

*“There’s no security clearance process for members of Parliament,” Mr Joske said.*

*”As far as I know, becoming a member of Parliament or a cabinet minister is the only way you can access classified material without having a security clearance.*

“I think [foreign powers] recognise it is a weakness.

*”Even now when accusations of this come out it benefits them in the sense it questions the legitimacy of some of our democratic institutions, the potential that someone could be in Parliament not as a representative of the Australian people but as a representative of a hostile foreign power.” *

Blackmail, votes and committees

*Once inside the walls of Parliament House, Mr Joske said the agent would start to build trust, gather information and may even seek to ultimately blackmail other MPs and staffers.

Internally within the party they’d be able to learn a lot more about factions and staffing and that would help a foreign intelligence agency to build up an even larger number of operatives within Parliament,” he said. *

*”There are so many rumours going around Parliament House for example and some of these could be quite valuable if they turn out to be true, in terms of being able to compromise someone through blackmail, for example, and get them to become an agent that way.”

House of Representatives

He said these agents wouldn’t just be gathering information to feed back to their government, it’s likely they would take a more proactive role.

*”One step would be to join some of the intelligence, security and foreign affairs-related committees,” Mr Joske said.

He said obvious targets would be to undermine foreign interference laws or the agencies trying to enforce them. But any foreign agent would also have loftier goals.

*”They would also have significant foreign policy objectives … for example, seeking to change Australia’s position on a territorial dispute that that country is engaged in, signing up to more trade deals that give the other country more leverage,” he said.

“In the West, we have a picture of spies as people who steal information whereas I think in Chinese history the spies they really look up to and praise are people who specialised in political influence.” *

Sleepwalking into foreign influence

Former ASIO director-general Duncan Lewis issued a stark warning on Chinese influence in the latest edition of the Quarterly Essay.

Duncan Lewis

Espionage and foreign interference is insidious. Its effects might not present for decades and by that time it’s too late,” he said.

“You wake up one day and find decisions made in our country that are not in the interests of our country.”

Mr Joske said that’s standard thinking for people who’ve got an eye on Chinese influence operations.

“Quite often they’re not necessarily seeking to just break down democracy, they’re also seeking to repurpose them and manipulate them,” he said.

“It’s not about exporting, for example, an authoritarian model of government, it’s being able to co-opt the players in a democratic system so that it’s superficially democratic, you still go out to vote, as people just did in Hong Kong, but your elected leaders don’t actually reflect your views.

“By the very nature of these activities, we will probably only ever know the tip of the iceberg.”

A man with his back to camera facing out of a large window.




Where can Australians find trustworthy news and opinion?

MICHAEL WEST … and many of the other Papers listed herein are where CAAN sources its articles …

HOWEVER we only cover a few of the reports …


ONE Strategy to get a ‘good government’ is by subscribing and replacing the Limited News outlets with media which deliver trustworthy news … like Michael West, The New Daily, The Saturday Paper, Macro Business, The Guardian, The AIMN, Independent Australia ….

by Alan Austin — 27 November 2019 — BusinessFeatured

Where can Australians find trustworthy news and opinion?

Fake news headline on a newspaper (illustration per 109887609 (M) ©

If it is true as some assert that federal Labor cannot win elections in Australia because the mainstream media continually misrepresent its record, then what is the solution? One strategy is to replace those outlets with media which deliver trustworthy news. Alan Austin reports.

Fortunately, Australia does have reliable sources of information. So what are they, and how are they shaping up as viable alternatives?

There are at least twelve. Some are well-established, others struggling. Promising start-ups to have collapsed in recent years include The Global MailThe Hoopla and NoFibs. So the attrition rate is high. Michael West, which started in July 2016, is the only successful new entrant since The Saturday Paper in early 2014.

Old media still dominate

The website Alexa measures traffic to all websites worldwide, including all news media. It doesn’t reveal reader numbers, but shows the engagement ranking in Australia and the world.

Colleague Kim Wingerei also operates theIndependents — a media portal aggregating close to 50 independent sites and blogs from across the political spectrum, and tracking their visitor numbers. Click here to see online audience sample.

By observing rises and falls, we can assess if audiences are expanding or contracting.

Four general news journals rank in the top fifty Australian websites, three mainstream outlets and the more recent online journal The Guardian. Current Alexa rankings are:

15., published by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp

22., the publicly-owned Australian Broadcasting Corporation,

46., independent journal funded by readers, and

49., the Sydney Morning Herald, formerly owned by Fairfax, now by Nine Entertainment Co.

Top alternative outlets

Here is a subjective list, in alphabetical order, of twelve alternative online journals of news, analysis and opinion. Readership trends indicated are over the last 12 months.

Australian Independent Media Network (AIMN)

Strong on politics, social justice and the environment. Free. Welcomes contributions from readers. Alexa ranking 24,751 in Australia and 894,117 in the world. Readership trend decreasing.

The Conversation

Covers federal politics, economics, social justice, the environment and popular culture. Free. Has access to academics from universities across Australia and beyond. Alexa does not rank the Australian edition separately from the international site, which ranks 427 in Australia, 3,296 in the world. Readership increasing steadily.


Covers federal and state politics, the media, corporate excesses and general news. Paywall. This year Crikey launched an investigative journalism unit staffed by a team of eleven. It has published several reports but is yet to expose serious rorts with clarity and penetration. Alexa ranking 4,332 in Australia, 150,914 in the world. Readership decreasing.

Eureka Street

Topics include religious affairs, social justice, Indigenous affairs, the environment and popular culture. Cartoons by Fiona Katauskas. Free. Alexa ranking 24,735 in Australia and 433,031 in the world. Readership fluctuating.

The Guardian

Reports on federal politics, economics, social issues, the environment and general news. Cartoons by First Dog on the Moon. Free. Its alliance with pro-Coalition mainstream media giant, ABC News, is a negative, although outweighed by the positives. Alexa does not rank the Australian edition separately from the international site, which ranks 46 in Australia, 122 in the world. Readership increasing steadily.

Independent Australia

Analyses a range of issues including federal and state politics, economics, corruption, the environment and popular culture. Cartoons by Mark David. Free. Welcomes reader contributions. Alexa ranking 3,816 in Australia, 178,622 in the world. Readership increasing steadily.

Inside Story

Strengths include federal politics, social issues, international affairs, the environment, Indigenous affairs, film and literature. Free. Authors largely drawn from academia. Alexa ranking 27,813 in Australia, 530,795 in the world. Readership decreasing.

John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations

Deals with politics, international affairs, human rights and the environment. Routinely reprints articles from other sites, including the mainstream media, but these are selected for a reason. Alexa ranking 7,412 in Australia, 518,885 in the world. Readership fluctuating.

Michael West

Investigates business, finance, economics and political and corporate corruption. Cartoons by Alan Moir. Free. Particularly courageous in exposing Australia’s tax cheats and other corporate rorters by name. Alexa ranking 4,935 in Australia, 220,599 in the world. Readership increasing strongly.


A distinctive things about the current media environment is that digitisation has led to a shift from general news to specialised, niche reporting.

For instance, since leaving Fairfax, @MichaelWestBiz has found his own niche. It is called, actual fucking news.

PS: subscribe! …Michael West@MichaelWestBizPower prices went through the roof but – over 4 years & $30 billion in sales – this tax haven-controlled energy juggernaut pays no tax.
#2 on the #Top40 Tax Dodgers chart is @EnergyAustralia …
2557:43 AM – Mar 19, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy161 people are talking about this

The New Daily

Owned by Industry Super Holdings, this outlet is strong on bushfires, money, bushfires, federal politics, superannuation, bushfires, the environment and popular culture. And bushfires. Free. Runs a lot of celebrity and royalty pap, which can be scrolled past, and sometimes follows News Corp’s lead by publishing AAP releases. But its in-house writers are independent. Alexa ranking 517 in Australia, 32,722 in the world. Readership decreasing, but from a high base.

New Matilda

Established in 2004, New Matilda has struggled recently to maintain regular content. Its highest Alexa ranking was 1,801 in April 2016, which was third among Australia’s alternative media outlets, beaten only by Crikey and The New Daily. Free. It has tumbled dramatically since and no longer registers on the Australian charts, but ranks 676,279 in the world. Excellent on indigenous affairs, climate and refugee policy, but has suffered from an odd antipathy towards the Australian Labor Party. Readership decreasing.

The Saturday Paper

Areas include federal politics, social issues, the environment, global affairs and food. Cartoons by Jon Kudelka. Paywall. Alexa ranking 9,931 in Australia, 402,120 in the world. Readership decreasing.

Australia’s best writers now work for the alternative media. They include Guy Rundle and Bernard Keane (Crikey), Quentin Dempster and Michael Pascoe (The New Daily), Greg Jericho and David Marr (The Guardian) and Mike Seccombe, Richard Ackland, Michael West, Jennifer Wilson and Mungo Maccallum elsewhere. Easily googled.

All twelve alternative outlets have their strengths and weaknesses. None spreads the systematic distortions and falsehoods of News Corp, many of which are then repeated by Nine (Fairfax), the ABC and elsewhere.

Hence all deserve the support of Australians keen to end the pollution of the political process by the press.


Disclaimer: Alan Austin currently contributes regularly to Independent Australia and Michael West. He has contributed regularly in the past to The New DailyCrikey and New Matilda and occasionally to John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations, the AIMNEureka Street and The Global Mail.

Editor’s Note:

When making comparisons, remember that both Crikey and The Saturday Paper have paywalls. This restricts the number of unique visits and page views to paying subscribers only.

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PREVIOUSCalls for Reserve Bank as Peoples Bank as farm credit dries up


Alan Austin

Alan Austin is a freelance journalist with interests in news media, religious affairs and economic and social issues.

Where can Australians find trustworthy news and opinion?


Population growth and Infrastructure in Australia: the catch-up illusion

By Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

November 27, 2019 | 35 comments

Yesterday, I flew up to Sydney to launch a new discussion paper with former NSW Premier Bob Carr, entitled “Population growth and Infrastructure in Australia: the catch-up illusion”, of which I was the lead author.

This paper was commissioned by Sustainable Population Australia (SPA), which “is an Australian, non-partisan, special advocacy group that seeks to establish an ecologically sustainable human population”.

Below is the table of contents for the paper:

And here are links to the Summary and the Full Report, which can both be downloaded in PDF format.

This is the first in a series of discussion papers that will be released by SPA.

Please pass this paper along to your friends and colleagues, as we need to educate the general public on these vitally important issues.

Sustainable Population Australia

An independent not-for-profit organisation seeking to protect the environment and our quality of life by ending population growth in Australia and globally, while rejecting racism and coercive population control. SPA is an environmental advocacy organisation, not a political party.

Power - What drives our energy demands?

The future is something we create.

Development - what are its impacts?

Population growth and Infrastructure in Australia: the catch-up illusion

Sustainable Population Australia – Discussion Paper

Lead Author: Leith van Onselen

November 2019

Sydney and Melbourne now have worse traffic congestion than New York and Toronto. This congestion is but one symptom of an infrastructure shortfall caused by Australia’s rapid population growth, fuelled by very high levels of immigration since the beginning of this century.

If these trends continue towards a ‘Big Australia’, living standards for existing residents will continue to decline as people are forced into smaller, more expensive and lower-quality housing, endure worsening traffic congestion, pay more to access basic infrastructure and services, and have less access to public services and green space.

Our political leaders are claiming that these problems can be managed by decentralisation, ‘better planning’ and more investment. This paper disagrees with those propositions.

We find that these proposed solutions will not work under conditions of high population growth. Instead, the increasing cost and complexity of adding new infrastructure in our already sprawling cities can only guarantee declining living standards.

Sustainable Population Australia’s Discussion Paper series provides in-depth analysis of key issues relating to population policy and discourse.

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SPA Inc. (National Office)
PO Box 85


0434 962 305


Click here to email us


High IMMIGRATION is changing the AUSSIE way of life … rapidly …

WHY does the frequent failure of the HOUSING INDUSTRY to keep up with the FOREIGN DEMAND for NEW HOMES add to the price of HOUSING?

2.2 MILLION Visa Holders in Australia at any point in time … many seeking our housing and a Permanent Resident Visa

real estate gatekeepers exempt from Anti-Money Laundering Laws (October 2018)

WAS this the Big Boys Ponzi Plan all along?


-“Well, since I am not a modest person I say I had the biggest hand in it because I devoted myself to Sydney. I did a little bit in Queensland, but absolutely I am Sydney!”

(One Plus One with Jane Hutcheon when she enquired if HT had a hand in the way the Sydney landscape has changed?)

“I will bring in more migrants”

(AFR in response to the oversupply of apartments)

-“The problem with Australians is they are very slow. They ask their lawyer, they ask their financial adviser, they ask their family, they ask everybody. The Chinese don’t ask anybody, they come off the plane, buy their unit and go.”

(July 2017 AFR)


High immigration is changing the Aussie way of life

Ross Gittins
Ross Gittins

Economics Editor

November 27, 2019

View all comments

The nation’s economic elitepoliticians of all colours, businesspeople and economists – long ago decided we need to grow our population as fast as we can.

To them, their reasons for believing this are so blindingly obvious they don’t need to be discussed.

Unfortunately, however, it’s doubtful most ordinary Australians agree.

A survey last year by researchers at the Australian National University found that more than 69 per cent of respondents felt we didn’t need more people, well up on a similar poll in 2010.

An artist's impression of Parramatta in coming years.
An artist’s impression of Parramatta in coming years.

This may explain why Scott Morrison announced before this year’s election a big cut in our permanent migrant intakewhile failing to mention that our booming temporary migrant intake wouldn’t be constrained.

CAAN: At any point in time there are 2.2 MILLION TEMP. VISA HOLDERS IN AUSTRALIA …. Many seeking PERMANENT RESIDENCY!

He also foreshadowed measures to encourage more migrants to settle in regional cities.

What he didn’t say is what he’d be doing differently this time, given the many times such efforts had failed in the past.

*In between scandalising over the invading hordes of boat people, John Howard greatly increased the immigration intake after the turn of the century, and this has been continued by the later Labor and Coalition governments.

*“Net overseas migration” accounts for about 60 per cent of our population growth.

Illustration: Simon Letch
Illustration: Simon LetchCREDIT:



2030: Sydney’s housing ambitions signal rising risk in segregation

In 2000, the Australian Bureau of Statistics projected that our population wouldn’t reach 25.4 million until 2051. We got there this year. Our population is growing much faster than other developed countries’ are.

The growth in our economy has been so weak over the past year that they’ve had to stop saying it, but for years our politicians boasted about how much faster our economy was growing than the other economies.

*What they invariably failed to mention was that most of our faster growth was explained by our faster-growing population, not our increasing prosperity.

Over the year to June, for instance, real gross domestic product grew by (a pathetic) 1.4 per cent, whereas GDP per person actually fell by 0.2 per cent.

*That’s telling us that, despite the growth in the economy, on average our material standard of living is stagnant.

*All that immigration isn’t making the rest of us any better off in monetary terms.

Illustration: Andrew Dyson
Illustration: Andrew DysonCREDIT:

Of course, that’s just a crude average. You can be sure some people are better off as a result of all the migration. Our business people have always demanded high migration because of their confidence that a bigger market allows them to make bigger profits.

CAAN: The Rich Listers …

Image result for Harry Triguboff

Daily Telegraph: Future Development: Harry Triguboff

Image result for gerry harvey

The Australian: How the Rich Invest: Gerry Harvey

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The Australian: Rich and Rare: Frank Lowy looks back

Economists, on the other hand, are supposed to believe in economic growth because it makes all of us better off. They’re not supposed to believe in growth for its own sake.

This week one of the few interest groups devoted to opposing high migration, Sustainable Population Australia, issued a discussion paper that’s worth discussing. It reminds us that many of the problems we complain about are symptoms of migration.


As interest rates get closer to zero, it's becoming clearer that very cheap debt doesn't necessarily cheer us up. Illustration: Dionne Gain

Rate cuts getting less bang for their buck

The biggest issue is infrastructure. We need additional public infrastructure – and private business equipment and structures, and *housing – to accommodate the needs of every extra person (locally born as well as immigrant) if average living standards aren’t to fall.

*Taking just public infrastructurecovering roads, public transport, hospitals, schools, electricity, water and sewage, policing, law and justice, parks and open space and much more – the discussion paper estimates that every extra person requires well over $100,000 of infrastructure spending.

When governments fail to keep up with this need – as they have been, despite a surge in spending lately – congestion on roads and public transport is just the most obvious disruption we suffer.

*The International Monetary Fund’s latest report on our economy says we have “a notable infrastructure gap compared to other advanced economies”.

Spending is “not keeping up with population and economic growth”. We have a forecast annual gap averaging about 0.35 per cent of GDP for basic infrastructure (roads, rail, water, ports) plus a smaller gap for social infrastructure (schools, hospitals, prisons).

*One factor increasing the cost of infrastructure is that about two-thirds of migrants settle in the already crowded cities of Sydney and Melbourne – each of whose populations is projected to reach 10 million in the next 50 years, with Melbourne overtaking Sydney.

The proposed West Gate Tunnel crossing of the Maribyrnong River.
The proposed West Gate Tunnel crossing of the Maribyrnong River. CREDIT:WESTERN DISTRIBUTOR AUTHORITY

*According to a Productivity Commission report, “growing populations will place pressure on already strained transport systems. Yet available choices for new investments are constrained by the increasingly limited availability of unutilised land”.

*New developments such as Sydney’s WestConnex have required land reclamation, costly compensation arrangements, or otherwise more expensive alternatives such as tunnels. It’s reported to cost $515 million a kilometre, with Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel costing $1.34 billion a kilometre.

*Who pays for all this? We do – one way or another. “Funding will inevitably be borne by the Australian community either through user-pays fees or general taxation,” the commission says.

Combine our growing population with lower rainfall and increased evaporation from climate change and water will become a perennial problem and an ever-rising expense to householders and farmers alike.

The housing industry’s frequent failure to keep up with the demand for new homes adds to the price of housing. And the only way we’ll double the populations of Melbourne and Sydney is by moving to a lot more high-rise living.

High immigration is changing the Aussie way of life. Before long, only the rich will be able to afford a detached house with a backyard.

Image result for Harry Triguboff

Property Observer: Meriton’s Harry Triguboff: Vaucluse Mansion

Ross Gittins is the Herald’s economics editor.

Ross Gittins

Ross Gittins is the Economics Editor of The Sydney Morning Herald.

Illustration: Andrew Dyson