Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Questions without Notice

Foreign Donations

2:05 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

I can, thank you, Senator Bushby. It, really, in a sense, follows from my responses to Senator Carr. As I said a moment ago to Senator Carr, this is very much a package. It is designed to ensure that, in relation to non-harmful, legitimate, lawful conduct, there is transparency. That's the transparency scheme piece of the legislation. In relation to malicious and harmful conduct, there are new offences, in particular the new offence of unlawful foreign interference, which will make it a criminal offence to act on behalf of a foreign principal so as to seek to affect the governmental and political processes of Australia in a covert manner—we can all think of a recent instance of that in this chamber, Mr President—and which will also, and this is Senator Cormann's piece of the package, prohibit foreign political donations and donations from foreign sources to try and influence the Australian political process or Australian political or electoral outcomes or activities.

Senator Bushby, we have, of course, heard the Labor Party bleating, for months and months, about foreign donations. Well, here we have the coalition government actually doing something about it—introducing a measure, which Senator Cormann will be introducing either today or tomorrow, that actually takes real and decisive action against foreign political donations. We hear the Labor Party and, even more, the Greens bleat about transparency. Here we've introduced a transparency scheme to ensure that the relationship between foreign principals and those who may engage on their behalf in Australia is a matter of transparent public record. And, of course, we have the shameful example of Senator Dastyari's conduct. (Time expired)


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