Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended embattled MP Gladys Liu as a "great Australian" and dismissed questions over her potential links to Beijing as a "smear" with a "very grubby undertone".
The Victorian Liberal MP admitted on Wednesday to having once been a member of a Chinese group which later became a full-blown propaganda arm of the Communist Party.
Mr Morrison said Ms Liu was guilty of giving "a clumsy interview" on Sky News Australia on Tuesday night but had explained herself and circumstances.
Mr Morrison deliberately sat beside Ms Liu in parliament on Thursday in a public sign of support for the MP.
He hit out at those questioning whether Australian security agencies had probed Ms Liu, saying it would undermine "the nature of the relationship between agencies and the government".
He said Ms Liu was part of an Australian-Chinese community of 1.2 million and many organisations had made people members "without their knowledge".
"Gladys is a Chinese-born Australian," Mr Morrison said.
"Does that make her in cahoots with the Chinese government? Of course no. It is a ridiculous suggestion and I think it is an insult to every single Chinese-Australian in this country."
Mr Morrison has faced calls from the Opposition and crossbench to reassure the public that Ms Liu is a "fit and proper" person to be in Parliament, including questions about whether the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation should check on any links to the Chinese government.
The Herald Sun reported on Thursday senior Liberals said they were told the intelligence community warned the party against preselecting Ms Liu for the seat of Chisholm before this year's federal election.
Mr Morrison said anyone who sat on the National Security Committee of Cabinet knows that they are never in a position "to be able to offer commentary on inquiries of that nature".
Having previously denied any association, Ms Liu confirmed she was an honorary member of the Guangdong provincial chapter of the China Overseas Exchange Association between 2003 and 2015.
At that time the association was an arm of the Chinese government's central political and administrative body but has since been merged with the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department, a known propaganda arm of Beijing.
Mr Morrison said Labor was seeking to "smear an Australian of Chinese heritage simply for the fact that she did a clumsy interview".
"She has been here for a few weeks and I think she should be extended some comfort and support," he said.
"I think people should reflect very carefully in the way they have sought to attack Gladys over this matter and the broader smear that I think is implied in that to more than 1 million Australians."
Labor attempted to force Ms Liu to give a statement in parliament over past links this morning, using Mr Morrison's past comments about the fall of ex-Labor senator Sam Dastyari over a Chinese donor scandal.
"The ridiculous hypocrisy of all of the people in the government benches, starting with the prime minister and including the member for Chisholm, is on full display for the Australian people to see," Labor's shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said.
Independent MP Rebekha Sharkie supported Labor's motion, saying it went to the "confidence" of MPs in the parliament and said the government should not "run a protection racket".
Mr Morrison said those attacking Ms Liu, the first Chinese-Australian woman elected to parliament, should be "celebrating" her election, "not attacking it".
- SMH/The Age