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Joel Fitzgibbon Linked to Chinese Operative Helen Liu

This story just amazes me that the Australian Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon would do something as irresponsible as this:

THE woman at the centre of national security issues involving Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon was under investigation for her links to the Chinese Government.

Intelligence officials had noted wealthy Chinese-born, Sydney-based businesswoman Helen Liu’s contact and activities with senior officials in the Chinese government, Fairfax reports.

The contacts were picked up in normal monitoring of Chinese activity in Australia, the reports say.

Defence Intelligence and other security officials say they are also concerned Mr Fitzgibbon’s decision to sublet a Canberra residence from Ms Liu might be a security risk.

A 2002 World Federation of Chinese Association’s report praised Ms Liu for keeping Chinese officials informed about political developments in Australia, saying she has “good relations with state leaders” and passed on to relevant authorities in China details about policies and activity directed towards China.

Ms Liu’s lawyer, Donald Junn, has declined to answer questions about Ms Liu’s alleged connections with the Chinese government or its intelligence agencies.

“They (Defence officials) would be the first to know that you have to have some firm indication, if not direct evidence, to make what is a most serious allegation,” he told Fairfax. [AAP]

Fitzgibbon even allowed her to pay for his trips to China and he failed to tell anyone about this:

DEFENCE Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has confirmed he took two trips to China paid for by Chinese-born businesswoman Helen Liu that he failed to declare to parliament.

Mr Fitzgibbon has been at the centre of a political storm involving his relationship with his department following claims department officers spied on his relationship with Ms Liu.

Earlier, questioned about the relationship, Mr Fitzgibbon said he had only exchanged small gifts with Ms Liu and her family.

A spokesman later said: “The minister has not accepted any gifts that would require a declaration on the members’ interest register.”

But later on, the minister’s office said in a statement that following an exhaustive review, Mr Fitzgibbon had identified two occasions of sponsored travel which have not previously been declared to the registrar of members’ interests.

“I have taken immediate steps to declare this sponsored travel to the clerk of registrar of members’ interests,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“These trips were paid for by Ms Helen Liu either personally or through her associated commercial interests.

“I failed to disclose those trips. This was a mistake and for that I apologise.”  [The Australian]

Even if she isn’t a Chinese spy this just looks entirely inappropriate and someone in his position should know better.  Really a shocking story and I would be amazed if Prime Minister Kevin Rudd decides to keep him in his current position.