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Well why not?

If it is true that there has been no investigation of Joel Fitzgibbon’s relationship with Helen Liu, then senior defense department staff should be sacked. 

Joel Fitzgibbon is Australia’s Minister of Defense. He is the member of the executive branch of government who is charged with responsibility for funding and policy decisions in relation to Australia’s armed forces.

I would have thought some background checking, and checking of contacts, was the standard for government ministers. Not so they could be removed from office, except in extreme circumstances, but so that appropriate advice could be given and care taken.

Even if that minimal level of checking is not done routinely, there is a responsibility to investigate when serious allegations are made about a government minister’s involvement with a person with close ties to the military or intelligence services of a foreign power.

Helen Liu has paid for multiple trips to China, has made substantial campaign donations, has invited Fitzgibbon to functions at which senior Chinese military personnel were present.

There may have been nothing wrong with any of that, though you might wonder why Liu was going to so much trouble.

The problem, or at least the beginning of the awareness there might be a problem, came when Fitzgibbon lied about the extent of his relationship with Liu, and her gifts to him. People who lie usually do so because they think have something to hide. If they think they have something to hide, they probably do.

There should have been some checking before Mr Fitzgibbon was appointed. Maybe that’s just not the Australian way. But once it was clear he had lied about his relationship with Liu, a full investigation became imperative.

Instead, the Defense Department conducted an investigation into whether there had been an investigation.

Questions which should have been asked about Liu’s loyalties and contacts, and about her generosity to Fitzgibbon, and his indebtedness to her, have still not been asked. Not by the people who should be asking them, anyway.

Now business associates of Helen Liu have revealed that Chinese intelligence agents asked them to do just what Helen Liu has done – form a close relationship with Fitzgibbon, including expensive gifts and trips to China.

Why would Chinese intelligence be interested in having someone form a close relationship with Australia’s defense minister?

Maybe they were just being friendly. As a citizen of Australia, I’d like to know.

You’d think that those responsible for Australia’s security and defense planning would also like to know.

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