Global News

Australia to ban, criminalise foreign interference in politics

Australia to ban, criminalise foreign interference in politics

The federal government will ban foreign political donations, require lobbyists for foreign powers to register and impose offences for acts of foreign interference in sweeping new laws to be introduced to parliament. "We will not tolerate foreign-influence activities that are in any way covert, coercive or corrupt".

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Tuesday that foreign interference in politics would be outlawed under updated treason and espionage laws.

"We have recently seen disturbing reports about Chinese influence", Turnbull said, adding the reforms were not targeted at any one country.

Australians were familiar with the "very credible reports" that Russian Federation sought to actively undermine and influence the United States election, Turnbull said.

"This will be the most significant overhaul of our espionage, counter intelligence, political donation legislative framework in decades", he told reporters in Canberra.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had no intention of interfering with Australia's internal affairs or using political funding to influence them.

In recent days, an audio recording emerged of Labor MP Sam Dastyari adopting a pro-China stance over tensions in the South China Sea during a speech in the presence of Huang Xiangmo, a generous donor to Labor who also allegedly has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Former Georgia president detained in Kiev after 'threatening to jump off roof'
President Vladimir Putin's spokesman said the Kremlin was "once again surprised by Kiev and once again surprised by Saakashvili". SBU officers went after him, detained him and led him to a waiting van.

Under the new laws, the offence of espionage will cover not only the passing on of information, but possessing and receiving it as well.

Turnbull said the reforms would "reshape the way our national security agencies investigate and disrupt" foreign interference and espionage and would protect the Australian way of life.

Foreign political donations will also be banned.

There will also be a new offence that will criminalise, for the first time, soliciting or procuring a person to engage in espionage, and a new preparation and planning offence.

"They will strengthen our democracy and will ensure that decisions are made based on Australia's national interest, not anyone else's", he said in a statement.

The senator said banning all foreign donations would ensure no inappropriate foreign interference in Australia's democratic system. Given that foreign donations will be used for activities that do not involve politics, charities will be exempt from receiving and using foreign donations, as confirmed by Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.


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