CANBERRA, March 11 (Xinhua) — Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter on Monday issued a warning to foreign agents trying to influence the nation’s politics.
Porter told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that authorities were prepared to chase down political parties, universities, media companies and politicians who choose to “run the gauntlet” by failing to disclose their allegiances under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS).
The FITS was announced by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in a crackdown on foreign nations working to influence Australian politics, with the government expecting more than 700 organizations to fall under its scope.
“Ultimately, there are significant civil penalties for failing to register,” Porter said.
“(An organization) would be very, very unwise indeed if they engaged in lobbying or influencing activity with government and determined not to register themselves.”
He said that despite the low number of registrations the FITS has already had a significant impact on the political landscape.
“We’ve already seen some reasonably high-profile resignations from organizations in the weeks leading up to this register becoming live, so it’s likely that the register is also changing behaviour and contractual arrangements between individuals in the Australian political system,” he said.
According to the report of The Australian, FITS was modelled on similar schemes in the United States and Britain but has proved difficult to enforce on account of its ambiguous scope.