Fergus Ryan and Peter Cai, Business Spectator, February 3, 2015
Who is ‘Zi Chun Wang’, the mysterious Chinese donor who gifted $850,000 to the Australian Labor Party ahead of the 2013 federal election? His gift was the largest donation to any political party in the 2013-2014 financial year.
According to the form filed with the Australian Electoral Commission, the address left by the mysterious donor leads to No 112, Yuhua Xilu, Qiaoxi District in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei, the largest steel producing province in China.
A Baidu-search of the email address provided to the Australian Electoral Commission by the donor leads to a number of forums with comments left by the donor as far back as 2007, discussing foreign trade and real-estate investment in Australia. The user left comments on forum posts about investing in Australian real-estate.
Under one article giving a detailed discussion about investing in Australia’s real-estate sector, a user linked to the email address provided by the donor expresses his interest in investing in Australia real-estate.
“Please continue! Very interesting! I’m interested in investing, and will keep an eye on it!”
The revelation comes on the same day as Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the federal government will introduce better enforcement of the rules against foreign purchases of existing homes.
In a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra, Mr Abbott said there would also be better scrutiny and reporting of foreign purchases of agricultural land and that enforcing rules around foreign purchases of property would help make sure ‘young people are not priced out of the market.’
“These laws were not legally enforced by the former Labor government–not once” he said.
A Senate inquiry into foreign investment last year found that rules surrounding overseas buyers were not enforced or policed properly. The report found that there had been no prosecutions for breaching foreign investment rules since 2006 and no orders to sell off properties bought by breaking the rules since 2007.
“It defies belief that there has been universal compliance with the foreign investment framework . . . since 2007,” the report states.
China-related political contributions have emerged as the largest source of funding for the Labor Party in 2014. Four out of five of the top political donors have strong connections to China. Apart from Mr Wang, who donated $850,000 to the Labor Party, the third largest donor to the party was Dr Chau Chak Wing, through his company Kingold Investments.
Dr Chau has high-level connections across the political spectrum in Australia and China. His daugher Winky Chow used to be a staffer to the former NSW Premier Bob Carr. The Chinese-Australian businessman donated $25 million to the University of Technology, Sydney including a building designed by the famous US architect Frank Gehry.
The fourth and fifth largest donors to Labor last year are also closely connected with China. Mr Xu Jingui donated $400,000 to the party and the Australia China Elite Business Awards organised by Zhao Qing Jiang of AIMG Group contributed $260,000.
The business awards event was held before the last election and attended by then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and former Prime Minister Bob Hawke.