Embattled NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane denies he’s a suspect in an investigation into Chinese interference which included searches of his home and office, saying the inquiry relates to other people.
Mr Moselmane gave an impromptu statement on Monday, insisting he had done nothing wrong and suggesting he was the victim of “political lynching”.
He said the investigation was into “certain other people” who may have sought to advance the goals of the Chinese government, but did not extend to him.
Mr Moselmane was last week suspended from NSW Labor and will no longer sit in the parliamentary caucus after Friday’s raid on his Rockdale home.
Following the raids conducted by federal police and Australia’s intelligence service, he plans to take a leave of absence from parliament.
Federal authorities are yet to make allegations or disclose the nature of their concerns.
They have also searched the home and business of one of Mr Moselmane’s staff members, named by multiple media outlets as John Zhang.
“The federal agents have a job to do and it is imperative that they do their job without state and federal political interference. I am under no illusion that this is a serious investigation, the first of its kind, precedents will be set,” Mr Moselmane told reporters.
“Sadly the political lynching has already commenced.
“I have done nothing wrong. I have never jeopardised the welfare of our country and our people.”
Mr Moselmane stood down as assistant president of the NSW upper house in April after praising Chinese President Xi’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying Mr Xi had demonstrated “unswerving leadership” and decisiveness.
On Monday he stood by those views, saying they had been promulgated by the World Health Organisation and at one point by US President Donald Trump.
Mr Moselmane, who has been in NSW parliament since 2009 and was formerly Rockdale City Council mayor, is reported to have made repeated trips to China over the past decade, where he has met with Chinese Communist Party members.
He said on Monday he made those trips for reasons of charity.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday told reporters foreign interference was a serious issue and required a swift response from federal law enforcement.
But he said the vetting of prospective members of Australian parliaments remained adequate.
“It’s very concerning there has been this investigation launched … into someone who has been a very long-standing and relatively senior person within the NSW ALP,” Mr Morrison said.
“This is an issue the federal government will not shy away from – it’s very important to our integrity as a country and our security as a nation.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday told reporters her government had previously raised concerns about Mr Moselmane with the NSW Labor party, but Opposition Leader Jodi McKay had not responded to them quickly enough.
Ms McKay last week said the raids on Mr Moselmane had come as a surprise.