Chinese-born Australian lawmaker fights election challenge

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Lawyers for the first Chinese-born lawmaker to be appointed to Australia’s Parliament and for a Senior Government Minister appeared in a court yesterday to fight challenges to their elections over misleading Chinese-language campaign signs.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and a Hong Kong-born fellow lawmaker in the conservative government, Gladys Liu, are being challenged over how they were elected to Parliament in the May 18 elections.

Court of Disputed Returns Justice Michelle Gordon ordered that the challenges to the lawmakers’ elections go to trial in the Federal Court at a date to be set.

The court challenge is one of the controversies facing Liu, who is under sustained opposition attack in

Parliament over her links to the Chinese Communist Party and wealthy Chinese political donors.

The challenges to the election results stem from signs that appeared in Liu and Frydenberg’s Melbourne electorates on election day.

The signs were printed in the same colours as Australia’s election authority uses for its public information campaigns. The signs said in Chinese that choosing the government’s candidate on the ballot paper was “the right way to vote”.

Liu has come under media scrutiny over her membership in organisations overseen by the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee that exert influence on important individuals, organisations and governments outside China. Concern is growing about China’s influence in Australia, which last year banned covert foreign interference in domestic politics.

Government lawmaker Gladys Liu sits in Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. PHOTO: AP