14 March 2022

Right-wing group enters poll fray with China truck

| Ian Bushnell
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China truck ad

The China election ad truck on State Circle, near Parliament House Photo: Ian Bushnell.

A provocative political billboard advertisement atop a truck is turning heads in Canberra with its brazen claim echoing the Morrison Government’s accusation that Labor is China’s preferred party for the upcoming election.

The ad shows a smiling Chinese President Xi casting his vote, accompanied by the headline, “Vote Labor”.

While the truck looks similar to the one the Liberal Party has wheeled around Canberra in previous campaigns, this ad is authorised by Matthew Sheahan and Advance Australia, a right-wing lobby group that has benefited from wealthy donors and sought to counter left-wing activist group GetUp.

Advance Australia has been accused of being a front for the Liberal Party in much the same way there have been claims that GetUp is linked to the ALP.

But while GetUp has been cleared of any association with Labor, Advance Australia’s former national director was former Liberal staffer Gerard Benedet, who was succeeded by Liz Storer, a former adviser to ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja, who is a regular commentator on Sky News.

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The ad follows the revelation that ASIO had foiled a Chinese attempt to influence the federal election. Although the spy agency had not provided details or identified which party had been targeted, media reports subsequently revealed that the plot involved attempting to bankroll Labor candidates in NSW.

Both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton seized on the reports, claiming in Parliament that China wanted Labor to win.

Opposition spokesperson Richard Marles was even accused of being a “Manchurian candidate”.

But the blatant nature of the ad has some people wondering if it is within the guidelines.

The Australian Electoral Commission said it was aware of the ad and had received a small number of queries about it, but it had not breached any standards or laws.

An AEC spokesperson said that, for the most part, electoral laws did not restrict the placement, timing or content of political advertisements.

“There is freedom of political communication and it is the voter’s role to stop and consider what they see this federal election,” the spokesperson said.

“We are encouraging people on our channels to do just this and will be running an advertising campaign once the election is announced that reinforces that role for the voter.”

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The spokesperson said electoral laws did require an authorisation statement so that people could identify the author, and the advertisement did appear to have the appropriate authorisation on it.

ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher called it base politics.

“I think Canberrans are smarter than this sort of base-level politics from a fringe group attempting to misrepresent Labor’s policies,” she said.

“If this group wants to have a proper debate on national security, then let’s have it, but driving a misleading truck around Canberra is nothing more than a baseless lie from a political group that lacks credibility.”

The Morrison Government has continued to press national security and defence as key election issues, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Labor insists that it and the government are on the same page when it comes to China and that these matters should be dealt with in a bi-partisan way.

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If you want to know who the Chinese Government prefers … ask the Chinese Government. The Global Times is a mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party and comments on international issues from a PRC nationalistic perspective. This is what the Global Times/PRC Govt thinks (14/3):
“Morrison has increasingly displayed his speculative characteristics of both opportunism and adventurism in his political thinking and foreign policy. Under Morrison’s leadership, Australia has blindly acted as the lackey of the US, which has squeezed the country’s room for diplomatic maneuvers, and constantly provoked China.”
So the billboard is quite accurate.

I am curious to know what you imagine to be your point, Acton?
“the billboard is quite accurate”
It says “Vote Labor”, so I am sure that party will thank you for your unequivocal endorsement.
On the other hand, it appears to show a non-voter voting informal, so maybe not quite so accurate.
Do you mean to be racist, or are you assuming everyone simply swallows propaganda (like you appear to) such that Australia will turn Chinese if there is a democratic change of government in our country, one which includes about 50% recent immigrants (or 99% from another perspective)?
As a general recollection, Australia turned to non-Conservative parties in WW2 and to resolve at last our involvement in the Vietnam conflict; you know, the one where the “dominoes” then failed to fall. Maybe rational actors do better for our country than those fearful of bogeymen under the bed?
Really, you sound a bit worked up. I suggest a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. My suggestion will suit the era of your thinking.

Matt Astolfi9:23 pm 15 Mar 22

That same article states, “The opposition has also shown its toughness against China, emphasizing it would not be taking “a backward step” on any substantive points of disagreement with Beijing.”

So the billboard is not accurate; the Chinese distrust both major Australian parties to form positive relations.

Labor had also been having misleading advertising for many years, such as ‘Mediscare’ and nothing happened to Medicare. Then you have Senator Anne Ruston constantly debunking and refuting Labor scare tactics, yet they continue to mislead with the debunked and refuted information. It’s nothing new and both major parties have done misleading advertising i.e. inheritance taxes. If anything, there should be better legislation for truth and accuracy in political advertising and claims. Any claims should be verifiable.

Matthew James12:02 pm 15 Mar 22

Well, the Liberal Party have consistently promised to wind back, gut and scrap Medicare ever since it was re-instated by the ALP in 1983 after the Liberals scrapped it in 1981, so “Mediscare” is in fact reality.

I fully support legislation for truth and accuracy, and it’s pretty obvious to me – as a non-ALP voter – that the Liberals would be the ones needing to change their behaviour the most if such a thing were to come to pass.

How do we know you’re not an ALP voter?

Accurate – of course the party that tries to remove negative gearing, franking credits and is against free market economic policies for the housing market is in support of communist ideals.

In what universe are government paid for policies such as negative gearing and franking credits “free market economic policies”?

Free market would be removing those policies and letting the market decide what happens instead of needing to suck on the government teat.

What planet do you live on Sam Oak?

Sam Oak not being generously subsidised by other taxpayers


Communist ideals.


chewy14 – never a truer word………..

Lol what universe do you live in Sam? Interesting ideas of free market economics you have in it obviously…

Ian Bushnell your article is biased towards the Liberal party and pro Labor. I personally am not a fan of either party but if you think that Getup is not linked to the Labor party then you are asleep at the wheel. All you need to do is follow the money trail to Getup and then to the left wing candidates that they sponsor, Does Zalli Steggle ring a bell? Chinese influence in Australian politics , education, local governments and industry is real and only a fool would ignore it.

Matthew James12:07 pm 15 Mar 22

Zali Steggall? Left wing?
She’s not even in the ALP, which is a centrist political party.

Do you know which Party Gladys Liu represents?

Going by what Zali Steggall had chosen to vote on in parliament, the issues and the way her votes went on the particular issues, it’s obvious that she is probably left-wing, even far left. Many independents are Labor/Greens in disguise and are misleading by saying they are independent. A nasty political tactic.

alistaar, what issues and votes on them will you cite to show she is “far left”?
On legislative matters her web site shows 54% voting with the government to 37% with the opposition (5% independents only and 4% absent/abstain). She votes heavily (75%) against shutting down debate, thus typically against the government (which likes to gag) on those procedural issues.
You wouldn’t be engaging in a nasty political tactic of smearing without supporting your case, would you?

Over 80% were passed and of the 15-20% that were voted against, they were clearly far-left issues.

alistaar wrote, “Over 80% were passed”
80% of what? Bicycles on the freeway? Wind in parliament? A whoosh over your head?
“…they were clearly far left issues”
I note you have failed completely to take up my invitation to identify the “far left” issues in question, supposedly the crux of your critique of a person who votes about 6:4 with the government on its legislation, which is precisely what the “left” do not. Your idea of independence appears to be a right-wing conformista.

The billboard serves as a reminder.
Of the outing of Labor senator Sam Dastyari as a Chinese agent of influence and the bribery and corruption of NSW Labor.
Of recent headlines “China behind failed attempt to bankroll Labor candidates in federal election”.
Of ongoing Chinese government efforts to manipulate Australian politics and academic institutions as described in Clive Hamilton’s well researched book ‘Silent Invasion: China’s influence in Australia’

ACT Labor Senator Katy Gallagher can just ignore embarassing billboards, annoying headlines, ICAC investigations and ASIO warnings because her re-election is assured.

Capital Retro8:21 pm 14 Mar 22

And who could forget Joel Fitzgibbon’s China connections:


Stephen Ellis3:55 pm 14 Mar 22

How has GetUp been cleared of any association with the ALP. The organisation was established by ALP politicians and its board is made up of ALP members and it has a disgraceful method of campaigns against sitting Conservative members. You’d have to be blind to think that it is not an arm of the ALP.

LOL. Perhaps someone should copy it but with Rupert and LNP substituted.

Stephen Saunders1:39 pm 14 Mar 22

Crude, but justifiable. If Wong Labor has pivoted at all on China, it is very recent, and they are behind us voters, who would always prefer to be a US not a Chinese asset.

Pushing back against China is the one unequivocally good thing Morrison has done, and he has forced Labor to go along with him, at least to some extent.

“Advance Australia has been accused of being a front for the Liberal Party in much the same way there have been claims that GetUp is linked to the ALP.

But while GetUp has been cleared of any association with Labor, Advance Australia’s former national director was former Liberal staffer Gerard Benedet, who was succeeded by Liz Storer, a former adviser to ACT Liberal Senator Zed Seselja, who is a regular commentator on Sky News.”

Well if Mr Bushnell says Getup has been “cleared” of any association with the ALP it must be true.

I mean its not like the majority of the Getup board are ALP members or union activists, in the same vein that Bushnell links this other group to the Libs.

As for this sign, I don’t know what it’s meant to achieve. Most voters probably don’t even recognise Xi and think it’s just an ad for Labor.

Labor don’t use the same tactics, yeah right. The floods are Morrison’s fault, the bushfires are Morrisons fault. COVID-19 is Morrisons fault. Yeah, Labor pollies all have halos above their sweet little heads.

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