Australia’s new “foreign interference” laws: A threat to anti-war dissent


Australia’s new “foreign interference” laws: A threat to anti-war dissent

Mike Head

12 July 2018

At the core of the two anti-foreign influence bills that the Australian government and the opposition Labor Party jointly rammed through parliament on June 28 are “foreign interference” offences that are unprecedented in Australia and other supposed democracies.

In an increasingly globalised world, the “interference” provisions attack and criminalise the very concept of cooperative political activity with overseas or international organisations. This is an assault on fundamental democratic and legal rights.

The Espionage and Foreign Interference (EFI) Act, now in operation, inserts a new Division 92 into the federal Criminal Code. Entitled “Foreign interference,” it contains seven far-reaching offences.

This is on top of the expansion of an array of existing offences, such as treason, sabotage, advocating mutiny and breaching official secrecy, to broaden their potential use to outlaw dissent and anti-war activity.

Never before has it been a crime, punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment, to collaborate with an overseas group or individual to seek political change, whether on environmental, refugee, geo-strategic, anti-war or any other issues.

These laws have been introduced directly at the behest of the ruling establishment in Washington in order to combat China’s rise and help demonise and suppress opposition to preparations for war against China. Needless to say, the laws will not be directed against the US, which wields by far the greatest “foreign influence” in Australia.

As the US business publication Bloomberg reported: “Australia is set to become the first developed country to pass sweeping laws against foreign interference, in a…

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