The Group of Eight has called on the government to put its bill for a foreign influence transparency scheme on hold. The bill was drafted at the end of the year and is being considered by the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security. It, “introduces registration obligations for persons or entities who have arrangements with, or undertake certain activities on behalf of, foreign principals. It is intended to provide transparency for the Australian Government and the Australian public about the forms and sources of foreign influence in Australia.”
However, the Group of Eight argues “the hastily-complied legislation” “could severely limit Australian academics in their capacity to carry out essential and mandated activities or even provide expert advice in the public domain in response to legitimate public interest.”
The Go8 submission suggests that as now worded the bill could apply to; autonomous systems research being conducted by the University of Queensland and Boeing, Monash work with Janssen Biotech on rheumatoid arthritis and silicon solar cells being developed by ANU, UCal Berkeley and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne.
The Eight urges the committee to recommend a clause permitting “genuine academic activities,” “to ensure that the teaching, learning, research, collaboration, innovation, scholarship and social responsibility initiatives that underlie the effective operations of Australia’s democracy are not inadvertently harmed.”