There's five rules in the business of buying influence
The Turnbull government has ramped up their attack on Labor senator Dastyari in question time calling for ‘Sichuan Sam’ to resign.
That’s the problem of working in a foreign language – certain subtleties can be lost in translation.
It is standard procedure for business types the world over to, er, “influence” politicians but it has to be done within accepted ways and means. And you must be considered the “right” sort of person to be doing the influencing.
Cue American citizen Rupert Murdoch with his extraordinary access to politicians and blatant involvement in attempting to determine the outcome of elections here and abroad.
There is some irony in Huang being particularly generous with his Liberal Party donations – $210,000 according to the ABC – but politics hitting the fan over a relatively small amount invested in one young Labor senator.
Huang isn’t talking about it, though a spokesman for the businessman reportedly said he stopped making political donations last year.
It is standard procedure for business types the world over to, er, “influence” politicians but it has to be done within accepted ways and means.
o we’re left to speculate on what precedents Huang might have had in mind as he set out to cultivate a close relationship with a politician.
Gina Rinehart’s patronage of Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce immediately comes to mind, whether helping in his election campaigns, involving him in family disputes or awarding him a $40,000 prize – which he thought better about accepting a day later.
If Huang had been seeking to follow Ms Rinehart, he perhaps should have taken more notice of how to play a longer game.
Give generously to a body such as, well, the Institute of Public Affairs which will keep such donations secret while enjoying amazing political influence, right down to producing senators.
The public is left to guess who is paying the IPA’s wages, but the attendance at its birthday dinner provides hints. The IPA is notoriously free-market – except when it comes to spending government money in Northern Australia, in keeping with Gina Rinehart’s desires.
Perhaps Huang has looked further back for businessman/politician relationships for inspiration.
Sir Peter Abeles was particularly good at it, being knighted by his regular poker partner, the highly dubious NSW Liberal Premier Bob Askin. Abeles was careful to cultivate both sides of politics – Labor PM Bob Hawke held him dear and appointed him to the Reserve Bank board.
Hawke’s successor as Prime Minister, Paul Keating, had a good “mate” in former millionaire Warren Anderson – reportedly handy at helping sell a piggery to Indonesian interests. Anderson entities were involved in the infamous Firepower “fuel pill” fiasco, the perpetrators of which escaped with barely a feather whipping.
In terms of foreign influence, Keating’s successor, John Howard arguably takes the cake through his “special relationship” with George W Bush and the role that played in involving Australia in the Iraq invasion and subsequent debacle, all on the basis of fake intelligence that Australia’s own intelligence specialists disbelieved.
That reading might do Bush some injustice though – an intriguing Tweet by Phillip Adams this week suggested Howard was urging Bush to invade.