Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has come to the defence of Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has come to the defence of Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu.

Dutton backs MP after disastrous interview

HOME Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has come to the defence of Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu.

The embattled first-term federal MP is facing calls to "consider her tenure" over her links to several Chinese government-linked organisations.

"If the Prime Minister or I had concerns about Gladys Liu, we wouldn't be backing her the way we are," Mr Dutton told the Nine Network today.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also launched a strident defence of the rookie politician.

He said Ms Liu should be forgiven for giving a "clumsy" interview in which she couldn't recall her links to various Chinese groups.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has come to Gladys’ defence.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has come to Gladys’ defence.

It has also emerged that intelligence agencies warned former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull against attending a 2018 fundraiser with associates of Ms Liu. Separately, there are reports security agencies warned the Liberal Party not to preselect her as a candidate.

Mr Morrison said there was a "grubby undertone" to the reports and accused Labor of launching a racist attack.

He also accused Labor of trying to sling mud knowing he would not comment on security briefings.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Labor's only motivation was ensuring accountability.

"It has nothing to do with race and the only person who has raised race in these issues is of course Prime Minister Morrison," Mr Albanese told reporters in New Zealand.

"The same guy who labelled (former Labor senator) Sam Dastyari as 'Shanghai Sam' repeatedly in the parliament." Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said the Prime Minister was hiding behind the entire Chinese-Australian community to avoid saying why he had ignored warnings from national security agencies.

"That is one of the lowest acts I have seen in all my time in this place," she told parliament.

On Wednesday, Ms Liu revealed she held an honorary role with the Guangdong Overseas Exchange Association in 2011, but was no longer associated with it. The organisation is part of China's United Front propaganda arm. Senate crossbencher Rex Patrick said the controversy surrounding Ms Liu was a national security issue.

"She must consider her tenure," he told ABC radio.

Yesterday, Sky News host Andrew Bolt unleashed a stunning attack on Prime Minister Scott Morrison for playing the "race card" in defending under-fire Liberal MP Gladys Liu.

"The way that the Prime Minister played that race card five times this morning, well I can only say the Chinese regime should be sending him a thank you card," Bolt said in his opening monologue on Thursday.

"This slur against Labor and others was particularly disgusting."

- with Frank Chung