Amendments to the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme introduced into Parliament today will ensure the scheme is fully operational in time for the next federal election.
The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) will commence on 10 December 2018.
“The scheme will, for the first time shine a light on the activities of people in Australia who are representing the interests of foreign principals,” the Attorney-General said.
“It will enhance transparency right across the Australian Government and safeguard the nation's democracy, by providing visibility of the forms and sources of foreign influence in Australia's governmental and political processes.”
Today's Amendment Bill will effect two key changes:
- It shortens the grace period currently granted to persons in existing registrable arrangements. The grace period – currently 6 months from when the FITS Act commences, will reduce to the sooner of 3 months or the issuing of election writs, ensuring the scheme includes both existing and new arrangements before the next election..
- It will also allow historical information about previous registrations under the scheme to remain published on the Attorney-General's Department website after the registrations cease. This ensures the community has access to information about past – not just present – instances of foreign influence.
From Monday 10 December 2018, any person who undertakes certain activities on behalf of a foreign principal for the purpose of influencing a political or government process will be required to register under the scheme.
Information about those registered under the scheme will be publicly available on the Attorney-General's Department website.
Guidance material is available on the Attorney-General's Department website to assist those who may need to register at Attorney General Foregin Influence Transparency Scheme