University managements are bracing for the impact of the government’s proposed cyber security legislation and the report of the parliamentary Intel Committee on foreign interference on campus. A first new oversight is already in place
Research offices at universities are briefing staff on the government’s Foreign Relations Act 2020, which became law last week. It empowers the minister for foreign affairs to oversight state agency agreements with foreign powers, to ensure they are in the national interest. Universities are covered by being created by state acts (no ANU does not escape, it is specifically included).
Universities lobbies made the case that the then bill is intrusive and unnecessary, costly and cumbersome. “Our primary concerns go to both the workability of these laws that will cover thousands and thousands of agreements and the deterrent effect this could have on international partnerships,” Universities Australia warned (CMM November 6).
But now it is law and universities are working out how to obey it, with research offices briefing staff.