Top-secret report uncovers high-level Chinese interference in Australian politics
A top-secret Government report has uncovered a decade-long attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to compromise Australia's major political parties.
9NEWS has confirmed the report says the CCP's operations are aimed at all levels of government and designed to gain access and influence over policy making.
Malcolm Turnbull commissioned the joint investigation in August 2016, combining the resources of domestic spy agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
The departmental effort was led by one of the Prime Minister's former advisers, John Garnaut.
Mr Turnbull had seen enough of what the investigation had turned up by May 2017 to order the Attorney General to significantly toughen Australia's laws on espionage and foreign interference.
Efforts to intervene in Australia's politics have become increasingly brazen under President Xi Jinping, according to former advisor to the PM, John Garnaut. Picture: AAP
It is those proposed laws – and the commentary around them – that have been a major factor in the recent chill in the relationship between Australia and China.
"Under the uncompromising leadership of President Xi Jinping, China's activities have become too brazen and aggressive to ignore," Mr Garnaut said.
"A re-evaluation is taking place in half-a-dozen established democracies around the world, including Australia and the United States. Many more are entering the conversation."
He said the Chinese Communist Party worked subtly by offering privileged access, building personal relationships and rewarding those who delivered. He did not refer to his secret report but noted the scope of the Chinse influence operations had appeared in media reports around the world.
"We know that this is happening in our universities, in business communities, in ethnic Chinese communities, in media and entertainment and in politics and government.”
He said the Communist Party's systems were was so alien to Western eyes that "we have been having trouble seeing them let alone responding”.
"The party has been 'winning without fighting', to borrow some of its terminology," he said.