From the Sydney Morning Herald
by Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Chris Uhlmann
June 6, 2017
Ye Cheng, of Landbridge, and then trade minister Andrew Robb in 2015.
Former Australian trade minister Andrew Robb walked straight out of Parliament last year and into an $880,000-a-year job with a billionaire closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party and its key trade policy.
The arrangement, uncovered by a Fairfax Media- investigation, involves monthly payments of $73,000 (including GST) to Mr Robb starting on July 1, 2016. Mr Robb had announced months earlier he would not recontest his seat of Goldstein.
The details of the consultancy have never been disclosed by Mr Ye or Mr Robb. Neither has the fact that Mr Robb is being used to spruik a Chinese Communist Party-backed trade park as part of his consultancy agreement.
The port's acquisition sparked a major controversy after then US president Barack Obama complained he hadn't been forewarned. The Defence Department and ASIO have vetted and cleared Landbridge's acquisition of the port. But the director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings, said the port deal might benefit Beijing's long-term strategic interests, and not necessarily those of Australia.
Mr Robb is one of several senior former Australian politicians who have been hired by or who hold roles funded by businesses or businessmen closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party.
Mr Robb did not answer specific questions about his dealings with Landbridge, but said in a statement: "I can confirm that I fully understand my responsibilities as a former member of cabinet, and I can also confirm that I have, at all times, acted in accordance with those responsibilities."
The trade park being spruiked in Mr Robb's name is to be built in Rizhao, a thriving port city between Beijing and Shanghai. It is backed by the Communist Party-controlled Rizhao City Government in partnership with Mr Ye.
According to an official Chinese government statement, the park is designed to capitalise on the China Australia Free Trade Agreement as well as Mr Ye's purchase of the Darwin port. Mr Ye plans to build a second trade park in Darwin.
In April 2016, less than three months before his consultancy agreement began, Mr Robb visited China with an Australian delegation in his capacity as Australia's trade envoy. The delegation was lobbied by Rizhao Communist Party deputy secretary Liu Xingtai to support the trade park as part of a "Two Countries, Two Parks" proposal.