Checking on the safety of campus secrets

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is conducting yet another high-impact investigation and it is very interested in higher education and research

It’s a review of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (set up in 2018), the legislation for which requires a review after its first three years.

And universities are high on the agenda. The committee’s public hearing on Tuesday started with the ANU Security College, followed by a panel discussion with * John Byron (QUT), * Peter Chesworth (Unis Aus) * Luke Sheehy (ATN) * Vicki Thomson (Group of Eight) * George Wellard (Unis Aus) * Michael Wesley (Un Melbourne) and George Williams (UNSW).

The scheme is intended to, “bring transparency  to activities undertaken on behalf of foreign principals …  to influence Australian political and governmental systems and processes.”

Which involves HE and research. In a Tuesday speech ASIO chief Mike Burgess cited “academic and think tank research” as targets. “Espionage steals the advantages of significant investment in research and development,” he said.

The review follows the PJCIS’ highly regarded report on foreign interference on campus  – the government adopted nearly all its recommendations (CMM February 15).