Thursday, 30 November 2017
Dastyari, Senator Sam
As I was saying, I can't recall any issue that has struck at the heart of our democracy more than this issue does today. There is no doubt that the threat of foreign interference is a problem of the highest order and is only getting worse. As the D-G of ASIO has recently advised, foreign intelligence activity against Australians and Australia is occurring at an unprecedented level. Both espionage and covert foreign influence can cause immense harm to our national sovereignty, to the safety of our people and to the integrity of our democracy.
As the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, I know our committee has reviewed this issue extensively, on a bipartisan basis. We've reported already on foreign donations, and I know the government is looking at both increasing in legislation anti-espionage and foreign interference measures and measures in relation to the electoral process. But what is very clear to me as the Chair of JSCEM is that only Australians should have the power to influence Australian politics. One of the issues we grapple with in the committee all the time is the public perception of the integrity of our own democracy and of corruption within that democracy. While Australia globally—