Australian government plans anti-democratic laws on pretext of Chinese “sub-espionage”


Australian government plans anti-democratic laws on pretext of Chinese “sub-espionage”

Oscar Grenfell

26 September 2017

An “exclusive” in the Fairfax-owned Sydney Morning Herald and Age newspapers last Friday reported that the Australian government is preparing a “once in a generation shake-up” of espionage laws, on the McCarthyite pretext of combating “clandestine Chinese Communist Party influence over politics in this country.”

The article, which provides no evidence for its hysterical warnings of a Chinese “communist” plot to undermine Australian democracy, reads like a press release by the government or the country’s intelligence agencies to promote the planned legislation.

Attorney-General George Brandis and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the main domestic spy agency, appear to be the only sources for the story.

The headline of the article declares: “George Brandis considers new laws cracking down on Chinese spying in Australia.”

The article, however, states the legislation will target “sub-espionage.” In the Orwellian double-speak of the intelligence agencies, adopted uncritically by Fairfax Media, “sub-espionage” has nothing to do with spying or espionage. It covers political donations, lobbying and the funding of research projects and think-tanks.

The proposed laws have not been detailed anywhere, except in sketchy outline in the Fairfax report. Yet the Sydney Morning Herald followed up with an editorial yesterday hailing the planned legislation. It said there was “good reason to toughen and update protections against foreign interference,” but repeated the previous vague talking points about “sub-espionage.”

The repeated anti-China witch-hunts over the past year have been aimed at creating…

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