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Xenophon launches stinging rebuke to Rex’s Huawei claims

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Federal senate candidate Nick Xenophon has hit back strongly against Rex Patrick for questioning his links to Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, labelling the attack a “miserable attempt to dredge up some votes”.

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Patrick, who previously worked as a Xenophon staffer and is now pitted against his former boss in a federal senate race, used parliamentary privilege on Tuesday to slam Xenophon’s links to Huawei, likening it to doing PR for German arms manufacturers under the Nazi regime.

Xenophon’s law firm – to which he returned after his political career crashed in 2018 – was controversially retained as “strategic counsel” to Huawei in 2019, after the federal government banned the Chinese titan from taking part in its 5G rollout, citing security concerns over its ties to Beijing.

“It’s a huge Chinese corporation, intimately connected with the CCP, which supports Chinese state espionage and which, according to documents published in the Washington Post in December last year, has helped Chinese authorities create the surveillance network that targets that country’s Uighur minority,” Patrick said in parliament on Tuesday night

“There can’t be any compromise when it comes to Australian national security, nor can there be compromises on human rights.”

But Xenophon hit back on Wednesday, saying Patrick “needs to get his head out of the clouds with his military obsessions”.

“The law firm acted for Huawei Australia – they were under ruthless attack and we defended their legal rights, as lawyers do,” he said in a statement.

“We were not lobbyists for them. We didn’t engage with Canberra at all. We advised them on their legal options in defending themselves.

“Is Mr Patrick suggesting that if you are a Chinese company or person you are not entitled to a legal defence?  Is that the Australia he wants?

“How dare he question my loyalty as an Australian. It is a disgrace upon him.”

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