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PM dogged by questions over China scandal -

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PM dogged by questions over China scandal

Broadcast: 20/03/2008

Reporter: Ben Worsley

The Coalition has continued its pursuit of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd over his connection to the
Chinese company Beijing AustChina Technology and its boss, Ian Tang.

Transcript

TONY JONES: Well it didn't quite backfire, but it didn't get very far either.

The Coalition today continued its pursuit of the Prime Minister over his connection to the Chinese
company, Beijing AustChina Technology, and its boss, Ian Tang.

Kevin Rudd hit back with claims of double standards, citing documents he says prove senior figures
of the previous government also had close dealings with the business. The issue dominated the last
day of Parliament for nearly two months.

From Canberra, Ben Worsley reports.

BEN WORSLEY: Four days and no letting up.

PETER DUTTON, OPPOSITION FRONTBENCHER: Really we need to ask some more questions about exactly what
the company got out of paying all of this money to help Labor politicians fly free to China.

BRONWYN BISHOP, OPPOSITION FRONTBENCHER: I think it adds to the question of the Prime Minister's
judgment, which seems to be very poor.

SENATOR GEORGE BRANDIS: Kevin Rudd is starting to look increasingly like the Manchurian candidate.

BEN WORSLEY: The Coalition spent the week attacking Kevin Rudd's connection to AustChina and its
boss Ian Tang. Sixteen trips for senior Labor Opposition MPs paid for by AustChina. And now
revelations Kevin Rudd spoke at the launch of a retail development involving the company in 2006.

JAMES BIDGOOD, BACKBENCHER: They're trying to build a mountain out of a molehill. That's what
they're doing. A mountain out of a molehill. Kevin Rudd has been honest and all the other ministers
as well, totally disclosed, and they're clutching at straws.

TONY ABBOTT, FRONTBENCHER: Clearly there is more to this story than Kevin Rudd is letting on.

BEN WORSLEY: Clearly. And today Kevin Rudd was more than happy to elaborate. Not on his
connections, but the Coalition's.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: I think we have a case of someone, namely the Member for Goldstein's
credibility, collapsing in a heap.

BEN WORSLEY: Andrew Robb has lead the charge against the Prime Minister.

ANDREW ROBB, OPPOSITION FRONTBENCHER: And I ask again, what is your understanding of what Mr Tang
does?

KEVIN RUDD: Today he has the audacity to go on the national media and say, "About this company, we
don't know about this company. We don't know about this company". The Honourable Member for
Goldstein, the Government of which you are part, knew a flaming lot about this company.

BEN WORSLEY: Kevin Rudd today came armed with letters from the Howard era. One from the Australian
Embassy in Beijing to the Mayor, urging help for an AustChina development.

KEVIN RUDD: As you may be aware, the Australia Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Mark Vale MP,
visited the project during his December 2006 visit to Beijing.

BEN WORSLEY: He tabled a number of letters from Aus Trade about the company and he read one more
written to the company itself.

KEVIN RUDD: I look forward to Beijing AustChina Technology Limited achieving great success in its
endeavours and would encourage you to continue your close working relationship with the Government.
Signed, Richard Alston, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.

KEVIN ANDREWS, OPPOSITION BACKBENCHER: The Prime Minister reading out letters from the past which
he's dug out over the last 24 hours is not answering the question of what he knew about this
company.

BEN WORSLEY: No, but it did help the Government deflect the heat. So did this vision of John Howard
meeting Ian Tang in Beijing in 2002.

KEVIN RUDD: I would suggest that we have here a modest case of double standards.

BEN WORSLEY: If anything has come of this, it's a hint from the Prime Minister that he'll review
the private sponsorship of Parliamentary travel. Parliament now rest for seven weeks, in which time
Kevin Rudd will spend 19 days overseas, before Labor's first budget in 12 years is delivered in
May.

Ben Worsley, Lateline.