Australian government accelerates anti-democratic “foreign influence” register
26 November 2018
Without any prior notice, the Liberal-National Coalition government last Friday abruptly announced that the draconian Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) would commence on December 10, months earlier than previously indicated.
On the pretext of protecting the next federal election from Russian and Chinese “interference,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s administration is bringing forward the imposition of far-reaching, anti-democratic laws that were pushed through parliament in July.
In July, the government and the Labor Party joined hands to ram the legislation through both houses of parliament in several days, claiming it was urgently needed to prevent “foreign meddling” in five July 28 by-elections. Without any evidence of such activity, a similar story has been concocted to insist that amendments to the FITS Act must be passed within two weeks so it can be activated immediately.
As of December 10, any political party, business or individual that allegedly works with a “foreign” group or government, including international organisations, would be compelled to register with the FITS authorities, who would hand the information over to the intelligence and prosecution agencies.
Such is the government’s rush that extensive FITS rules, which could force political organisations to hand over private information, such as members’ details, have not been finalised. Instead, incomplete draft versions were hastily posted on the Attorney-General’s web site on Friday.
Attorney-General Christian Porter told journalists that prosecutions could happen “very quickly.” When questioned, however, he declined to provide any evidence of what the…