• Hannah Phillips

Dealing with Foreign Political Interference

The head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis, has said that foreign penetration of the Australian political system, institutions and the media has never been greater but he can’t give any examples for security reasons.

However, on the basis of ASIO briefings, federal politicians are prepared to limit the civil liberties of Australian citizens while at the same time keeping us in the dark about the threat we face.

In testimony to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Duncan Lewis told them:

“[There’s] a more diverse range of hostile foreign intelligence services working against us than we’ve had in the past … Many of these hostile foreign intelligence services have significantly increased the resources that are dedicated to foreign intelligence collection, and they have also greatly improved the spectrum and sophistication of their activities.”

This activity has given rise to the National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 which deals with secrecy offences; espionage offences; foreign interference and theft of trade secrets; sabotage offences; and treason, treachery and other threats to security.

The bill follows a comprehensive review of Australia’s political interference and espionage laws conducted by then Attorney General, George Brandis.

John McDonnell

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