Australia set to pass laws against foreign interference

The Foreign Influence and Transparency Scheme that includes a ban on political donations from foreign sources raised a ruckus on home ground when it was introduced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The Foreign Influence and Transparency Scheme that includes a ban on political donations from foreign sources raised a ruckus on home ground when it was introduced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Australia's ties with China could potentially sink to a new low if its Upper House this week passes controversial laws, which are seen as taking aim at alleged Chinese meddling in the country's domestic affairs.

The measures, known as the Foreign Influence and Transparency Scheme, include a ban on political donations from foreign sources, and a requirement that agents or lobbyists who represent foreign countries or entities must register their interests.

The scheme has raised a ruckus even on home ground amid fears that it could unfairly affect groups such as journalists, charities and religious organisations.

The scheme was introduced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following a scandal late last year over the relationship between a former Labor MP and a Chinese property developer who has links to the Chinese Communist Party and has been a big donor to the Labor party.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2018, with the headline 'Australia set to pass laws against foreign interference'. Print Edition | Subscribe