Thursday, 3 December 2020
Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020, Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020; In Committee
We have worked through this in committee and as you would have seen from the amendments. Whilst I understand the points, and the political point, that Senator Faruqi wishes to make, we start from the proposition that universities' international engagement does have potential implications for Australia's foreign policy and therefore should be subject to regulation.
We have substantial concerns, which I outlined at length, I think, yesterday, about the government's refusal to engage, the minister's continued refusal to engage and the fact that UFIT, the task force which was doing work on this, was bypassed. We also have concerns about the regulatory gap, which has never been explained, whereby private universities like Bond University will be excluded from the operations of the bill.
However, those concerns do not lead us to the proposition that the principle that universities should be subject to regulation in respect of foreign arrangements ought be abrogated. So, for that reason, we will not be supporting the Greens amendments, as I've expressed to them publicly.
I also note that the government has accepted the need for a review of the operation of the bill and for a narrowing of the definition of 'arrangements' and has provided a definition of 'institutional autonomy', all of which were matters raised and dealt with through the Senate committee which we participated in.
The CHAIR: The question is that amendments (1) to (4) on sheet 1220 as moved by Senator Faruqi be agreed to.