A federal government minister has admitted to flying to Beijing where a friend and Liberal Party donor finalised a mining deal.
A spokesman for Stuart Robert has told News Corp the then assistant defence minister attended in a ‘private capacity’ a signing ceremony with Nimrod Resources’ Paul Marks and Communist Party officials who run the Chinese government-owned company MinMetals.
Mr Robert was on leave and footed the bill for the trip, which came to light when MinMetals posted photos of the meeting on its website.
Foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop said she understood Mr Robert’s visit was made in a private capacity.
‘And of course, that’s perfectly acceptable,’ she told the Seven Network on Monday.
‘I don’t know how you can make a secret visit to China anyway.
‘China knows a great deal of what is going on when it comes to its borders.’
Liberal senator Simon Birmingham noted the trip occurred quite some time ago.
‘I’m sure Mr Robert will have something to say in terms of making sure that it is clearly understood that it was a private capacity and the way in which that occurred,’ he told Sky News.