In 2017, the Australian Government introduced a package of Bills that it said would address foreign interference in Australian politics.
From the university sector, to charity groups, to free speech think tanks, to the journalists’ union, there is widespread concern about this package of bills. The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill, for example, would require groups to register every time they undertake communications or lobbying activities on behalf of or with the knowledge of a ‘foreign principal’.
This Bill would have serious impacts on the work of groups like WWF-Australia, Pew Charitable Trusts and Oxfam Australia, who work with international partners. In fact, the definition of ‘foreign principal’ is so broad, that it may require those who work for these organisations to register as an agent of international governments if they so much as make a presentation to them that refers to planned activities.
This document, prepared by Hands Off Our Charities, looks at how these proposed new laws would hurt Australian charities and civil society.