REVEALED: Labor staffer at the centre of spy allegations is a Chinese-born sunglasses salesman who took a Beijing propaganda course run by the Chinese Communist Party
- Federal agents raided Sydney home of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane
- ASIO and AFP are investigating allegations of influence from Chinese agents
- His part-time staffer John Zhang is reportedly at the centre of the investigation
A Chinese-born sunglasses salesman and part-time Labor staffer is at the centre of a spying probe involving a NSW politician, it has been revealed.
John Zhang is a part time staffer to Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane, whose home and office were raided on Friday by national security officials.
The ASIO believes the Chinese Communist Party has attempted to infiltrate the NSW Parliament through a Labor backbencher’s office.
According to The Australian the investigation is focused on activities carried out by Mr Zhang, although Mr Moselmane is also a person of interest.
Mr Zhang was probed by the Australian Federal Police and ASIO on Friday, with search warrants executed at his home and the Moorebank warehouse of his sunglasses business.
NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane arriving at his Rockdale home in Sydney on Friday
In 2013, Mr Zhang travelled to Beijing for a propaganda training course organised by the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Zhang, who joined Mr Moselmane’s office in 2018, is also the former chairman of the Australian Shanghainese Association and has served as the vice-president of Australia China Economics, Trade and Culture Association.
In April Mr Moselmane stood down as assistant president of the NSW upper house after praising Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying Mr Xi had demonstrated ‘unswerving leadership’ and decisiveness.
On Friday he was questioned about potential Chinese state interference into Australian politics at the NSW Parliament.
There have been no charges laid against Mr Moselmane or Mr Zhang. The Australian Federal Police confirmed on Friday search warrants were executed in Sydney as part of an ongoing investigation and that there was no threat to the community.
Mr Moselmane’s part-time staffer John Zhang was also probed by the Australian Federal Police and ASIO, with search warrants executed at his home and the Moorebank warehouse of his sunglasses business
Shaoquett Moselmane is pictured with his wife Mika Fukuta
NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay on Friday said she’d been told authorities including ASIO officers entered Mr Moselmane’s Rockdale home, in Sydney’s south, and have a warrant for his office.
She confirmed Mr Moselmane’s membership of NSW Labor had been suspended and the upper house MP will no longer sit in the parliamentary caucus.
‘It’s dreadfully concerning, it’s terrible,’ she said on Friday, adding one of Mr Moselman’s staff may also be involved.
‘I am very restricted in what I can and can’t say.
‘This investigation needs to run its course.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he was aware of an investigation that had been going on for some time which ‘elevated to a new level today.’
He described the developments in Sydney as ‘extremely serious’.
Mr Moselmane has been a member of the NSW upper house since December 2009 and between 1995 and 2009 served four stints as Rockdale City Council mayor.
Mr Moselmane lashed out at anti-China racism in Australia in an essay for the East China Normal University in February.
Mr Moselmane’s home in Sydney’s south was raided by Australian Federal Police on Friday morning amid an investigation into Chinese influence over Australian politics
‘Today, media xenophobia and full-scale war against China have become the norm,’ he wrote in the opinion piece, seen by the Sydney Morning Herald.
‘Today, the obsolete scum of ‘white Australia’ is once again flooding, and the theory of yellow fever has once again surfaced.
‘Some mainstream media have bred and spread these racial viruses in our multicultural community with the purpose of inciting hatred.’
In a video circulating on social media from earlier in the year, Mr Moselmane congratulated the Chinese government for how they handled the COVID-19 outbreak.
‘The Chinese government should be commended for the immediate action they took,’ he said.
Federal officers enter the home of NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane in Rockdale, Sydney, on Friday