Proposed amendments to the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017 (FITS Bill)
This submission has been prepared with the assistance of the Law Council’s National Criminal Law Committee, Administrative Law Committee, Foreign Investment Committee, Not-for-Profit Legal Charities Group and Law Firms Australia.
The Attorney-General provided the Committee with a range of proposed amendments to the FITS Bill. The Attorney-General’s amendments, in summary:
- Limit who would be considered to be a ‘foreign principal’;
- Narrow the instances where a person will be taken to be acting under the influence of a foreign principal by removing the term ‘control’ and removing the concept of ‘funding or supervision’ and ‘collaboration’ with a foreign principal;
- Narrow the definition of ‘activity for the purpose of political or governmental influence’ to where there is a ‘sole or primary purpose, or a substantial purpose’ of influencing political matters;
- Broaden the exemption for legal advice beyond just representation in proceedings, including in relation to an administrative process of a government involving the foreign principal;
- Expand exemptions for: religious activities; government, commercial or business pursuits; industry representative bodies and personal representation in relation to administrative processes;
- Clarify that the Act would not affect the law relating to parliamentary privilege or legal professional privilege and that the Secretary’s power to obtain information and documents does not extend to circumstances in which these privileges apply;
- Limit the definition of ‘communications activity’ so that broadcasters, carriage service providers and publishers will not be required to register where they are undertaking their ordinary business on behalf of newly defined foreign principals; and
- Create a transparency notice scheme that would allow the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department to issue transparency notices determining a person or organisation a foreign government related entity of individual for the purposes of the scheme.
This submission makes the following comments on the amendments of substance.
You can read the full submission below.