Time is running out for people who are required to register for the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme to get their registrations lodged.
The three-month grace period for activities and arrangements that were already in place when the FITS commenced on 10 December 2018, ends this Sunday March 10, 2019.
Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said the FITS for the first time will inform all Australians about the level and nature of foreign influence in Australia’s national and governmental processes.
“For the first time Australia, through FITS, has mandatory public reporting requirements for people and entities that undertake certain activities on behalf of a foreign principal,” the Attorney-General said.
“There is nothing wrong with undertaking these activities. But until the commencement of FITS there was no way for the Australian community to know that some activities were being directed by foreign principals. It can be quite appropriate to try to influence – as opposed to interfere – with governmental decision-making and democratic processes. However, the Australian community has a right to see who is trying to exert such influence and why.
“The first registrations are already on the FITS website and once the grace period ends this Sunday it can be expected that more registrations will be listed.
The Attorney-General said those covered by the scheme should register as soon as possible to avoid potential penalties for non-compliance with the scheme.
Once the grace-period for existing arrangements ends this Sunday, those entering new arrangements with a foreign principal or undertaking specific activities on behalf of a foreign principal have 14 days to register.
Those who fail to register and to update their registration with specific activities can face severe penalties of up to five years in jail for some offences.
Individuals or entities undertaking activities on behalf of a foreign principal should familiarise themselves with their obligations under the scheme, before the grace period ends, as they may be required to register.
Under the scheme, it is the responsibility of the person undertaking the activities to determine whether they are required to register and people who are undertaking activities on behalf of a foreign principal should ensure that if an existing obligation to register exists, then they do so by the 10 March.