Chinese spies sought to fund candidates for Australia’s centre-left Labor opposition party in the upcoming federal election but the plot was foiled by the Australian national security agency, media outlets reported on Friday.
The plot was arranged by a businessman with Chinese connections who sought to fund candidates in exchange for influence in public office, but it was detected and stopped by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the reports added.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he was confident none of his candidates were compromised because he had spoken to ASIO director-general Mike Burgess “and he has reaffirmed that he has not raised concerns about any of my candidates”.
“I understand the government’s desperate for distractions at the moment, but I say to them that national security is too important to engage in game-playing,” he told reporters.
In a speech on Wednesday, Burgess had made a general reference to “multiple” foreign countries seeking to interfere with Australian governments.
A Chinese intelligence service was behind the plot, according to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, who cited unnamed security sources. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation and broadsheet The Australian also ran reports about the alleged plot.
The reports offered no details of the alleged plot such as timing or how it was thwarted.
National security looms as a major campaign issue in a federal election due by May. The ruling conservative Coalition is trailing in most polls and recently accused Labor of being the preferred party of China.
- Reuters, with additional editing by George Russell