WA Labor MP Pierre Yang has given a lengthy radio interview defending his character and apologising for not disclosing his memberships of two Chinese organisations.
- Mr Yang says he was naive not to know about the alleged affiliation between the groups he joined and the Chinese Communist Party
- He says he only gave legal advice to group members, not the organisations
- WA Premier Mark McGowan says he is not concerned by the non-disclosure
Mr Yang, a Chinese-born member of the Upper House, has been at the centre of intense media scrutiny after News Corp reported on Tuesday that he had not disclosed memberships of two groups allegedly affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.
The 35-year-old lawyer cancelled his memberships of both the Northeast China Federation Inc and the Association of Great China after the story was posted.
Curtin University’s former head of Chinese Studies Catherine Yeung told the ABC the Northeast China Federation Inc was affiliated with the United Front Work Department — a Communist Party agency promoting China’s political interests overseas.
She also said the Association of Great China signed a letter supporting China’s claim of sovereignty in the South China Sea.
Mr Yang spoke at length to ABC Perth on Wednesday afternoon and said he was not previously aware of either groups’ alleged affiliations with the Communist Party.
“I’ll admit I overlooked my disclosure, along with a local community organisation called William Langford Community House. I rectified that and I admit that it was my mistake,” he said.
He also conceded not knowing about the organisations’ alleged affiliations was naive.
“And that’s why I have taken action to rectify my oversight and I apologise for that,” he said.
Legal advice given to individuals
Mr Yang yesterday confirmed he was a voluntary legal adviser to both groups for several months after he commenced his parliamentary term, but said he had not done work for them.
Today he said he had done legal work, but for individual members of the organisations, not the entities themselves.
“All I did was, people would call up and they say they’ve got a family law issue, I’ll probably spend 10 or 15 minutes on the phone because of my family law background,” he said.
Mr Yang remains adamant he is not a member of the Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China, despite his name appearing online as an executive of the group.
“I don’t know why my name is there and I had instructed my lawyer to write to the organisation to remove my name,” he said today.
The Australian Council for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China’s former head was Huang Xiangmo, a prominent political donor embroiled in the scandal that forced the resignation of ex Labor Senator Sam Dastyari.
The interview ended with Mr Yang declaring his love for Australia and saying he hoped to be a good example for other foreign-born Australians aspiring to enter Parliament.
“I’m an Australian, I have been an Australian citizen for 13 years … this is my country, Australia has given me so much.
“My wife, my children were born here and you know I love this country.”
WA Premier Mark McGowan is continuing to stand by Mr Yang, arguing MPs are not required to declare such memberships on their register of interests.
“It’s discretionary on your parliamentary disclosures as to what memberships you put on there and you’ll find very few members of parliament put any disclosures of organisations we’re members of because generally we’re members of scores,” he said.
Mr McGowan also said it did not concern him that the two organisations in question were allegedly affiliated with the Chinese Communist Party.
“No, it doesn’t, look, China is our biggest trading partner, they’re the country that we rely on most for jobs and opportunities in Australia.”
Topics: perth-6000, wa
Lawn Mowing Service