Canberra / Beijing : ‘Interference of foreign powers in the Australian politics and political process is on increase. The reports showing the influence of China in Australia is of a great concern which cannot be neglected’, warned the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. He further declared of coming up with a bill to curb this interference in the political issues. According to the new bill, Prime Minister Turnbull said that foreign interference shall be considered a serious offense and it will be binding for those lobbing for other countries to have authorised registration done.
In the last week, Sam Dastyari, an opposition party leader and senior member of the Labour Party in the Senate was compelled to resign. Dastyari was held guilty for supporting the stance of China over the South China Sea and also was accused of sharing secretive information to it. Along with Dastyari, former Australian foreign minister, Bob Carr, is blamed to have helped China in a trade agreement and it is also said he had directed an Australian contract to a Chinese company. In the past whole year reports of Chinese intervention in the Australian politics, through various NGOs and think-tanks have surfaced.
On this background, the new bill introduced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, is openly aimed to stop China’s meddlesome behavior. While introducing the bill, Turnbull stated that besides Australia many other countries too are facing the annoyance of interference from foreign countries. In aid to this statement he gave an example of Russia’s meddlesome behaviour in the US elections.
Officials state that Australia’s bill is based on the ‘Foreign Agents Registration Act’ of the United States. According to this act if any Australian political party or any group associated with politics has spent more than hundred thousand Australian dollars on its propaganda, then it will not be permitted to receive any donation from any foreign country. This rule shall be applicable for the environment-related and others groups as well. Under the new act if anyone retains any sensitive or secretive information of national importance, then it shall be treated as treason.
There are indications that the members of the Australian parliament and that of certain leftist groups like ‘Get up’ shall be badly affected.