Retired Aussie trade minister criticizes govt's new foreign interference laws

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-06 15:50:41|Editor: pengying
Video PlayerClose

CANBERRA, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Retired Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb hit out at the government's new "foreign interference laws" on Wednesday, declaring that many hardworking Australian businessmen and women would be negatively portrayed for working with foreign companies.

Robb was the trade minister during the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) negotiations, but retired from his post and took up a position at the Landbridge Group, a Chinese firm which rented the Port of Darwin in northern Australia.

Under the new laws announced by the Australian government on Tuesday, Robb will be required to "register" before entering Australia's political circle again.

"This will give the Australian public and decision-makers proper visibility when foreign states or individuals may be seeking to influence our political processes and public debates," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the announcement on Tuesday.

But Robb hit back at the government, declaring that the new laws would unfairly expose hardworking Aussies who are trying to build sustainable business links with China and other foreign nations.

Speaking to Fairfax Media on Wednesday, Robb said the register was a "political stunt" and that he was "sick" of being portrayed as "treasonous" for taking a job with Landbridge.

"All I have sought to do since I left politics is to use my experience to improve opportunities for Australian businesses in the region," Robb said.

"The attempts to trash my reputation in some quarters -now being aided and abetted by the government -are ill-informed and cheap politics," he said.

Robb said he is employed by Landbridge to work outside of Australia in China and other parts of the world.

The scaremongering needs to stop, particularly in relation to China's prosperity and willingness to work closely with Australia, its government, and local businesses, the former politician said.

"There is at the present time, and has been for 12 months or more, an inordinate attempt to worry people about China," Robb said.