From farms and coal mines to airports and water supplies: How China is gobbling up millions of acres of land, vital infrastructure and companies – as part of its 'disturbing' plan to exert greater influence and control over Australia

The MORRISON Government plans to spend almost $88 million to establish a new Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-02/asio-to-lead-foreign-interference-taskforce/11756060

MEANWHILE the mere Plebs amongst us have been pondering … for years now … why it is that people particularly from CHINA can fly in and buy up our Property?

-commercial

-agricultural

-residential …. buy Australian Homes and gain a ‘Permanent Resident Visa’

HOW COME that doesn’t present a security risk?

IT IS UNFATHOMABLE!

ONE must question how much U.K. OWNERSHIP is in fact British when …

THE UNITED KINGDOM AND CHINA … INDISPENSABLE PARTNERS …

BECAUSE … what is more important is the ability of the Chinese to use LONDON … already a low tax environment to appear to be coming from the U.K!!! *

THE U.K. purchases are historical.

THE CHINESE have come from Zip to Fifth …

Hong Kong a quasi independent Registry with access to LONDON … *

VIEW CAAN FACEBOOK NOTES: https://www.facebook.com/notes/community-action-alliance-for-nsw/the-united-kingdom-and-china-indispensable-partners-caan-notes-re-foreign-invest/1142432569170360/

TO PROTECT OUR BORDERS … WHY NOT STOP THE SELL-OFF AND VISA MANIPULATION … ?

Cough … cough … with the allure of so much Chinese Black Money? Cough … cough …

From farms and coal mines to airports and water supplies: How China is gobbling up millions of acres of land, vital infrastructure and companies – as part of its ‘disturbing’ plan to exert greater influence and control over Australia

  • Last week ‘disturbing’ reports said that China tried to plant a spy in Parliament 
  • Experts warn that China ‘will not stop’ meddling in Australian domestic politics
  • Over past decade, China has poured billions into Australia to extend influence
  • It owns an airport in Western Australia and nine million hectares of farm land
  • China also owns Port of Darwin and several Australian coalmines and windfarms 

By CHARLIE MOORE FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA

UPDATED: 2 December 2019

China is buying up Australian land, infrastructure and businesses at an alarming rate as it seeks to project power and influence beyond its shores.

The communist nation of 1.4billion people owns an airport in Western Australia, nine million hectares of Australian land, several Aussie coalmines and wind farms and even the Port of Darwin, a key strategic asset.

China is also the largest foreign owner of Australian water and has projected soft power Down Under by planting Communist Party-approved Mandarin teachers in schools and universities.

Last week ‘disturbing’ stories emerged that China tried to install a (another) spy as a federal MP – and it is also suspected of carrying out major cyber attacks on Parliament.

As experts warn that China ‘will not stop’ meddling in Australian politics and its state-sponsored companies lock their sights on more Aussie businesses, here Daily Mail Australia charts which of our precious resources have already been lost.

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  • Sold to the Chinese: This map shows some of the companies and places that have been snapped up by Chinese investors

Infrastructure 

In 1993, China’s biggest airline, state-owned China Southern Airlines, paid the Western Australian government $1 to lease Merredin airport for 100 years to use as a training school for its pilots.

The rural airport, 260km east of Perth, only had two gravel airstrips – but after Chinese investment is now a multimillion-dollar all-weather airfield providing jobs in the region.

However, experts have raised concerns about letting a foreign government control airspace in Australia.

Local pilots say they have never been turned down when they request to land – but in theory China Southern could stop them using the airport at any time.

In 1993, China's biggest airline, state-owned China Southern Airlines, paid the Western Australian government $1 to lease Merredin Aerodrome (pictured) for 100 years

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  • In 1993, China’s biggest airline, state-owned China Southern Airlines, paid the Western Australian government $1 to lease Merredin Aerodrome (pictured) for 100 years

Entrepreneur Dick Smith, who is also a former chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, was among those who raised concerns.

‘It is outrageous that an Aussie pilot can’t go to a country airport without getting approval from the Chinese to land there,’ he said.

‘I’ve never heard of this happening anywhere.’    

In November 2015, the Northern Territory government decided to lease the Port of Darwin – now known as Darwin Port – to a Chinese company for 99 years.

Landbridge Australia, a subsidiary of Shandong Landbridge, won the lease with its bid of $506 million.

The territory’s Country Liberal Party government decided to lease the port – a key strategic asset because of its location at the top of the country – because it was desperate for investment in the absence of federal funds. 

(2015: Liberal Federal Government)

The controversial deal was called into question by US President Barack Obama at the time, leading former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage to say Australia had ‘blindsided’ its ally. 

In November 2015, the Northern Territory government decided to lease the Port of Darwin (pictured) to a Chinese company for 99 years

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  • In November 2015, the Northern Territory government decided to lease the Port of Darwin (pictured) to a Chinese company for 99 years

Executive director of the Australia Defence Association (ADA), Neil James, called the leasing of the base a ‘seriously dumb idea’.

And Labor MP Nick Champion called for the lease to be scrapped so the port can be returned to Australian control.

‘I think there was not enough consideration of the national interest in that particular privatisation of this port,’ he told the ABC in August.

‘It’s a very important port because we have significant defence facilities in the Northern Territory and that’s the part of the world I guess we have to pay a great deal of attention to.

‘We should look pretty clearly at making sure that that port is in government hands. It’s for those reasons, I think, it should be nationalised.’   

Land 

China is the second largest foreign owner of land in Australia with Chinese companies in control of 2.3 per cent of the nation’s soil.

Investors from the the United Kingdom own more with 2.6 per cent and buyers from the US are third with 0.7 per cent, according to the 2018 Register Of Foreign Ownership.

CAAN: BUT … Hong Kong is a quasi independent Registry with access to LONDON … and what is more important is the ability of the Chinese to use LONDON … already a low tax environment to appear to be coming from the U.K!!! *

Most of the foreign-owned land is in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and is used for cattle farming.   

Earlier this year, one of the biggest Chinese landowners in Australia was accused of illegally clearing Aboriginal land (pictured) in north Western Australia

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  • Earlier this year, one of the biggest Chinese landowners in Australia was accused of illegally clearing Aboriginal land (pictured) in north Western Australia

Between 2017 and 2018, Chinese companies added 50,000 hectares to their Australian property portfolio.

It took the total to more than 9.1million hectares – roughly the size of 9 million soccer fields.

When the land register report was released in December, federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that foreign investment was important for growth.

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But he also warned: ‘It is important to ensure that foreign investment is not contrary to the national interest‘. 

Earlier this year, one of the biggest Chinese landowners in Australia was accused of illegally clearing Aboriginal land in north Western Australia.

Zenith Australia Group, owned by Shanghai Cred, owns seven properties in Western Australia including Yakka Munga and Mount Elizabeth Stations in the Kimberley, Marvel Loch Station and Goldfields Station.

Most of the land owned by foreigners in Australia is in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and is used for cattle farming (stock image)

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  • Most of the land owned by foreigners in Australia is in Western Australia and the Northern Territory and is used for cattle farming (stock image)
China is the second largest foreign owner of farmland in Australia with Chinese companies in control of 2.3 per cent of the nation's land. Investors from the the United Kingdom own more with 2.6 per cent. This table is from the 2018 Register Of Foreign Ownership

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  • China is the second largest foreign owner of farmland in Australia with Chinese companies in control of 2.3 per cent of the nation’s land. Investors from the the United Kingdom own more with 2.6 per cent. This table is from the 2018 Register Of Foreign Ownership

CAAN: QUESTION: How much of the alleged U.K. Owned farmland is in fact Chinese owned through Hong Kong, a quasi independent Registry with access to LONDON?

The WA government issued a stop-work order after Walalakoo Aboriginal Corporation, the custodians of the land, claimed the company breached a lease agreement by clearing 120 hectares without permission.

Locals say important flora including boab trees have been ripped up. 

Shanghai Cred, which also owns a third of Gina Rineheart’s company Australian Outback Beef, lost an appeal against the stop-work order. 

A spokesman for the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation told Daily Mail Australia it is still investigating. 

Companies 

Over the past decade China has poured more than $150 billion into Australia by investing in or acquiring Aussie companies, according to KPMG analysis.

Only last week a Chinese dairy company announced it will take over a string of popular Australian milk brands in a $600million deal. 

China Mengniu Dairy Company has offered to buy 100 per cent of Bellamy's

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  • China Mengniu Dairy Company has offered to buy 100 per cent of Bellamy’s

Mengniu Dairy will acquire Melbourne-based dairy company Lion Dairy & Drinks, which sells Big M, Dairy Farmers and Dare products. 

Lion brands also include Yoplait yoghurt, Vitasoy, Pura and Farmers Union. 

The portfolio has been on the market since October 2018, when Lion decided to concentrate on its beer brands including James Squire, Little Creatures, Tooheys and XXXX. 

Mengniu Dairy, which is 16 per cent owned by food processing company Cofco, which is co-owned by the Chinese state, is also set to acquire Tasmanian baby formula company Bellamy’s Organic for $1.5billion. 

Earlier this month the Foreign Investment Review Board conditionally approved the takeover. 

*Before the takeover bid, shares in Bellamy’s plunged 62 per cent in 18 months.

*There were allegations the Chinese state brought this plunge about by not approving Bellamy’s’ request to sell organic formula in Chinese stores. The request is still pending. 

*The board of the Tasmania-based company denied the takeover had anything to do with fast-tracking Chinese regulation to allow expansion in the country.  

In 2017, Chinese company Goldwind bought Stockyard Hill Wind Farm, which has 149 turbines 35km west of Ballarat, from Origin Energy for $110million. 

In 2017, Chinese company Goldwind bought Stockyard Hill Wind Farm (pictured), which has 149 turbines 35km west of Ballarat, from Origin Energy for $110million

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In 2017, Chinese company Goldwind bought Stockyard Hill Wind Farm (pictured), which has 149 turbines 35km west of Ballarat, from Origin Energy for $110million

Over the past decade China has poured more than A$150billion into Australia. Pictured is a table from KPMG analysis showing the investment over the years

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  • Over the past decade China has poured more than A$150billion into Australia. Pictured is a table from KPMG analysis showing the investment over the years

*The following year it started building another wind farm of 48 turbines in the Tasmanian Central Highlands.

*State-owned Powerchina purchased 80 per cent of the wind farm for an undisclosed fee in April that year.China has always been interested in acquiring energy assets outside of the country Tim Murray of research firm J Capital

The company said the project will ‘promote the development of the wind power industry, boost local economic development and will help Australia reach the goal set for renewable energy by 2020.’

*Meanwhile in New South Wales, coalmines in the Hunter region have been snapped up by a state-owned Chinese firm.

*In 2017, Yancoal Australia, owned by Yanzhou Coal Mining Companyacquired Coal & Allied from Rio Tinto for $3.5billion, becoming Australia’s largest thermal coal mining company. 

The move prompted warnings from some analysts that China was trying to buy up access to Australia’s energy resources.

Tim Murray of research firm J Capital told the ABC:

‘Long-term, China has always been interested in acquiring energy assets outside of the country’.

‘They’ve got a basic view of “why not use someone else’s resources before we use our own”.’ 

*This week – after claims China tried to plant a spy in Parliament – an expert said communist investment has blinded politicians to security threats. 

Coalmines in the Hunter region (pictured) have been snapped up by a state-owned Chinese firm, Yancoal

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Coalmines in the Hunter region (pictured) have been snapped up by a state-owned Chinese firm, Yancoal

In 2018 Chinese company Goldwind started building Cattle Hill wind farm (pictured) of 48 turbines in the Tasmanian Central Highlands

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  • In 2018 Chinese company Goldwind started building Cattle Hill wind farm (pictured) of 48 turbines in the Tasmanian Central Highlands

*Successive governments failed to crack down on Chinese interference because they were too focused on trade and investment, according to journalist and Lowy Institute fellow Peter Hartcher.

Speaking at the Centre For Independent Studies in Sydney on Thursday, Mr Hartcher said Australia has only just acknowledged that China poses a threat.

‘We have only just awoken from distraction and woken up to China,’ he said.

*Mr Hartcher said the Turnbull government’s decision to ban Chinese mobile network Huawei from Australia’s 5G network – as well as new foreign interference laws – marked a policy shift to treat China with more caution.

*Asked by Daily Mail Australia why he believed action was not taken sooner, he blamed the allure of Chinese money.

‘It’s because we’ve been doing so much business with China,’ he said. 

China knocked back: The few deals that the government rejected

2019

Huawei is blocked from participating in Australia’s fifth-generation (5G) mobile network on national security grounds

2018

A $13 billion bid for natural gas company APA Group by Hong Kong’s CK Infrastructure Holdings Ltd (CKI) is rejected by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg citing the concentration of foreign ownership in gas transmission

2016

Then treasurer Scott Morrison rejects a $10 billion bid for 50.4% of electricity distributor Ausgrid from CKI and State Grid Corp of China citing security concerns

Morrison also rejects a $371 million bid from Shanghai CRED and Hunan Dakang Pasture Farming for S. Kidman and Co, one of Australia’s largest beef producers, saying the sale is not in the national interest.

2009

A $1.75 billion bid from Hong Kong’s Minmetals Land Ltd for OZ Minerals Ltd is altered when government rules the Prominent Hill mine in South Australia near the Woomera military zone could not be part of the deal

Water

China is the largest foreign stakeholder of Australian water.

Chinese investors own 732 gigalitres or 1.89 per cent of the water on the market – an amount more than Sydney Harbour which holds 500 gigalitres.

Americans own 720 gigalitres (1.86 per cent) while British buyers own 414 gigalitres or 1.1 per cent, according to the ATO register of foreign ownership which was set up to monitor who owns Australia’s most precious natural resource. 

CAAN: Of the 1.1 per cent British owned how much of which is Hong Kong/Chinese owned?

*The figures raised concerns that Chinese companies are deliberately buying water as part of a state strategy. 

The single foreign entity with the largest share of water rights is the Cubbie Station (pictured), a massive Queensland cotton farm largely owned by a Chinese textiles company

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The single foreign entity with the largest share of water rights is the Cubbie Station (pictured), a massive Queensland cotton farm largely owned by a Chinese textiles company

Chinese companies own 1.9 per cent of entitlements, as do US buyers, while British investors own 1.1 per cent. A string of companies from other countries including Canada and France own 0.5 per cent or less. Most of the water owned by foreign companies is used for agriculture (66.5 per cent) and mining (26.3 per cent)

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  • Chinese companies own 1.9 per cent of entitlements, as do US buyers, while British investors own 1.1 per cent. A string of companies from other countries including Canada and France own 0.5 per cent or less. Most of the water owned by foreign companies is used for agriculture (66.5 per cent) and mining (26.3 per cent)

When the register came out in March, then Conservative Party South Australian Senate candidate Rikki Lambert told the ABC:

‘It’s strategic because these countries are wanting to shore up their own food security and growing food in another country so they’re not using their own water resources at home.’

Professor Quentin Grafton of the Australian National University told Daily Mail Australia foreign ownership of Australian water is not necessarily problematic. 

‘Investors are not allowed to export the water so it has to be used in Australia,’ he said.

But the water economist said the government should watch carefully to stop anyone abusing their market power by hoarding water to push the price up.

How does the water market work? 

Government appointed bodies decide how much water from rivers can be given out each year. Once it is allocated, users can trade their water. 

There are two main types of water trade: temporary and permanent. A temporary transfer is a transfer of water specifically for the irrigation season.

If one farmer does not have enough water for his crops, he can buy water from another.  A permanent transfer is the transfer of the water entitlement.

The purchaser buys rights to a yearly allocation of water from a river and receives the allocation until they sell.

The Australian water market is not national but split into different sections within each state. The largest market is the Murray-Darling Basin in the south east.

The largest water market in Australia is the Murray-Darling Basin (pictured) in the south-east

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  • The largest water market in Australia is the Murray-Darling Basin (pictured) in the south-east

‘The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is currently looking into whether foreign and domestic owners are doing this,’ he said. 

Asked whether he knew of any foreign entities hoarding water, he said: ‘I have no evidence of that.’  

Water is often described the world’s most precious resource and is particularly dear in parts of Australia that have been locked in severe drought for three years. 

M*uch of Australia’s water, including 65 per cent of the Murray-Darling Basin, is protected by the government, meaning it cannot be traded.

*But a sizable portion can be bought and sold on the open market, and even be snapped up by foreigners.  

Asked if too much foreign ownership of water could be a problem, Professor Grafton said: ‘We’ll have to wait and see.’

But federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said there was nothing to worry about. 

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Chinese companies own 1.9 per cent of Australian water rights, as do US buyers, while British investors own 1.1 per cent (stock image)

+19 Chinese companies own 1.9 per cent of Australian water rights, as do US buyers, while British investors own 1.1 per cent (stock image)

‘At the moment, there’s a small percentage of water owned by foreign interests and much of that is by one property – Cubbie Station,’ he said. 

The Cubbie Station is a massive Queensland cotton farm largely owned by a Chinese textiles company. 

It was bought from Cubbie Group by a consortium of investors in 2012. 

The Labor government and the Liberal opposition approved the sale even though the Nationals said it was not in the national interest to have foreign owners of land and water rights.

The station’s water storage dams stretch for more than 28km along the Culgoa River in the Murray-Darling basin – and the station can use up to 500,000 megalitres per year. 

Schools 

Dozens of Chinese state-sponsored schools teaching Mandarin have opened up across the world in recent years, including several in Australia.

The so-called Confucius classrooms and Confucius Institutes at universities are a major way for China to project soft power around the globe.

Teaching assistants in the classes are vetted by the Chinese government and only get the job if they show ‘good political quality’ and a love of ‘the motherland’. 

This means they are totally loyal to the Chinese Communist Party and never speak out against it. 

In August, New South Wales announced it is scrapping the programme at the end of this year due to fears of  ­’inappropriate foreign influence’. 

Dozens of Chinese state-sponsored schools teaching Mandarin have opened up across the world in recent years, including several in Australia. Pictured: A Confucius classroom

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  • Dozens of Chinese state-sponsored schools teaching Mandarin have opened up across the world in recent years, including several in Australia. Pictured: A Confucius classroom

In a report, the Department of Education said: ‘The primary concern is the fact that NSW is the only government department in the world that hosts a Confucius Institute and that this arrangement places Chinese government appointees inside a NSW government ­department.

‘Having foreign government appointees based in a government department is one thing; having appointees of a one-party state that exercises censorship in its own country working in a government department in a democratic system is another.’

China’s foreign ministry accused New South Wales of politicizing a ‘normal exchange program.’ 

The program in 13 public schools in the state will be replaced by a different Mandarin initiative next year.

Several private schools announced they are reviewing the Confucius classes.

Australia has the third most Confucius programs in the world, after the US and the UK, with 14 institutes at universities across the nation. 

Politics 

On Sunday night Nine’s 60 Minutes broadcast explosive allegations that suspected Chinese agents had offered Chinese-Australian Bo ‘Nick’ Zhao $1million to run as a candidate in a federal seat in Melbourne.

The 32-year-old luxury car dealer had reportedly disclosed the alleged approach for him to spy to the Australia Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) last year, before he was found dead in a motel room in March.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Monday the allegations surrounding Zhao, a member of his Liberal Party, were ‘deeply disturbing and troubling’.

Melbourne car dealer 'Nick' Zhao (pictured), 32, was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room in March

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  • Melbourne car dealer ‘Nick’ Zhao (pictured), 32, was found dead in a Melbourne hotel room in March

In a rare public statement late Sunday night, ASIO head Mike Burgess said the agency was had been ‘actively investigating’ the matter.

‘Hostile foreign intelligence activity continues to pose a real threat to our nation and its security,’ he added.

Parliamentary intelligence committee chief Andrew Hastie described the alleged episode in Melbourne as ‘surreal’ and ‘like something out of a spy novel’.The Chinese Communist Party will not stop trying to get candidates into our parliament Peter Hartcher 

‘This isn’t just cash in a bag, given for favours, this is a state-sponsored attempt to infiltrate our parliament using an Australian citizen and basically run them as an agent of foreign influence in our democratic system,’ he told 60 Minutes.

‘So this is really significant and Australians should be very, very concerned about this.’

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang denied the claims, accusing ‘some politicians, organisations and media in Australia’ of ‘cooking up so-called China spy cases.’

Some in Australia have ‘reached a point where they panic at the slightest move and see threats everywhere’, Geng said.

Self-proclaimed Chinese spy Wang 'William' Liqiang (pictured)

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  • Self-proclaimed Chinese spy Wang ‘William’ Liqiang (pictured)

But ‘lies are ultimately just lies’, he said at a press briefing.

The claims came just days after a man claiming to be a former Chinese spy said he gave ASIO the identities of China’s senior military intelligence officers in Hong Kong and provided details about how they funded and conducted operations in the city, Taiwan and Australia.

China has tried to paint defector Wang ‘William’ Liqiang as an unemployed fraudster and fugitive.

Geng dismissed the allegations as a ‘clumsy farce’ and a fabrication.

Recently retired ASIO chief Duncan Lewis said last week that China wanted to ‘take over’ Australia’s political system with an ‘insidious’ and systematic campaign of espionage and influence peddling.

China is also widely suspected of being behind major intrusions into the computer systems of Australia’s parliament and a university with close ties to the government and security services.

But Beijing has previously angrily denied allegations it was covertly meddling in Australian affairs.

Earlier this year Gladys Liu, a first-term MP for the Melbourne seat of Chisholm, faced scrutiny over previous links to Chinese Communist Party propaganda groups.

PM finds spying allegations ‘deeply disturbing and troubling’Loaded: 0%Progress: 0%0:00PreviousPlaySkipMuteCurrent Time0:00/Duration Time1:52FullscreenNeed Text

The simmering issue has gathered steam again in recent days after allegations emerged that China tried to plant a spy in Australia’s parliament. 

*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 last week.

Liu raised more than $1million to fund her campaign to get elected to parliament – but has not openly addressed questions on where she got the money from. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said allegations of a Chinese plot to plant an agent into Australia's Parliament are 'deeply disturbing and troubling'

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured) said allegations of a Chinese plot to plant an agent into Australia’s Parliament are ‘deeply disturbing and troubling’