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Australia’s national security greatly enhanced with new laws

Media Release

Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said that Australia's national security has been greatly enhanced with the successful passage of two major bills today.

"The Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill and the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill are strong new laws against those who seek to undermine our national security and our democratic institutions and processes," the Attorney-General said.

"They are a critical tool for our national security agencies to use to counter the growing and ever-changing threat faced by Australia and other countries.

"We have heard time and time again from our most senior national security leaders that we live in a time of unprecedented foreign intelligence activity against Australia with more foreign agents, from more foreign powers, using more tradecraft to engage in espionage and foreign interference than at any time since the Cold War.

"Even in the time taken to consider these bills the threat environment has changed and become more acute.

"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.

"The Espionage and Foreign Interference Bill amends existing and introduces new espionage offences, updates sabotage offences and introduces a new offence relating to the theft of trade secrets on behalf of a foreign government, along with other key measures to further protect Australia's national security.

"There is no higher priority for the Turnbull Government than the protection of Australia's national interest and to keep Australians safe and to protect our democratic institutions from those who would seek to undermine them.

"These laws are a key part of achieving that objective.

"I thank the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, particular Chair, Andrew Hastie and Deputy Chair, Anthony Byrne, for the Committee's detailed and considered approach to these two Bills.

"I also thank the Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus QC, for his collaborative approach to ensuring that our most important democratic institution, the Parliament of Australia, has passed these Bills with the support of the two major parties.

"This sends a strong message to those who would seek to undermine our way of life that Australia is acutely aware of activities against our national security and will continue to take the steps necessary to thwart their activities."