Monday, 25 June 2018

Parliamentary Committee Report on Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme

Media release

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, welcomed the release today of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security's (PJCIS's) report on the Government's Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017.

"The Committee report is a critical step in securing the passage of this crucial legislation to help protect Australia's democratic systems and institutions," the Attorney-General said.

"Most importantly, the Committee report recommends the Bill be passed, reflecting a continuation of the bipartisan approach to national security legislation.

"The Turnbull Government's number one priority is to keep Australians safe and this Bill, along with the Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill which the PJCIS reported on two weeks ago and also recommended be passed, are critical elements of achieving that objective.

"The Government intends to accept all of the Committee's recommendations for amendments to the Bill, with a view to debating and passing both Bills into Parliament this week.

"The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill creates a register for individuals or entities which are undertaking activities on behalf of foreign principals. This will provide transparency for the Australian Government and the Australian community about foreign influence in Australia.
"We don't seek to restrict those activities through this Bill, rather to ensure such activity is undertaken in a lawful, open and transparent way."

Two weeks ago the Government presented the Committee with a series of drafted amendments which addressed key issues of concern to stakeholders.

The Committee has made 52 recommendations, the majority of which represent minor and technical drafting amendments.

Of the significant amendments recommended by the PJCIS, more than 20 relate to the amendments previously drafted and submitted by the Attorney-General.

The most significant remaining recommendations relate to the creation of new exemptions for charities and arts groups in limited circumstances and extending requirements on former Cabinet Ministers and public servants.

The Attorney-General said the Government would consider those recommendations and was aiming to have any necessary amendments drafted ahead of introduction of the Bill this week.

"I thank the PJCIS and the co-operative approach of the Opposition to bring this inquiry to a conclusion and the delivery of today's report," the Attorney-General said.