Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

New Treason Laws Up for Debate

Newspaper article Fraser Coast Chronicle (Hervey Bay, Australia)

New Treason Laws Up for Debate

Article excerpt

AUSTRALIA'S treason and espionage laws will be overhauled to ban "acts of political interference" such as Labor senator Sam Dastyari's soliciting of a donation from a Chinese businessman.

That controversy plus China's growing influence in world politics and Russia's interference in the 2016 US presidential election have led to the Federal Government's proposal to revamp the laws.

Foreign political donations will also be banned and those trying to influence Australian politics on behalf of other nations will be forced to declare who they are working for.

"Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process, both here and abroad," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters yesterday.

The Prime Minister said he was concerned by reports of Chinese foreign influence, but stressed the laws were not focused on one country alone, citing reports of Russian attempts to meddle with the US election.

The legislation will create a transparency scheme based on the US Foreign Agents Registry, which requires people to declare whether they are working for or acting on behalf of a foreign power.

"Being registered should not be seen as any kind of taint and certainly not as a crime," Mr Turnbull said.

"If you fail to disclose your ties, then you will be liable for a criminal offence. …

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