By SAT News Desk
MELBOURNE, 2 December: The Federal Government has decided to set up an $87.8 million new taskforce aimed to counter foreign interference and deter anyone attempting to undermine the country’s national interests. The announcement comes after Australian media reports of rising Chinese interference in Australia, though the media release today from the PM’s Press Office in Canberra, does not mention China or any other country.
A report in Guardian Australia says,” The Chinese government has dismissed allegations of espionage in Australia – including plans to install a pro-Beijing plant in parliament – as “nothing but lies”, insisting “China doesn’t interfere in other countries’ internal affairs”.
Dr. Pradeep Taneja, a specialist in Asian Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne says, “Judging by media reports, Australian intelligence agencies believe that foreign interference activity in Australia is at an unprecedented level. In political terms, this has already translated into more funding and new powers for intelligence and law enforcement agencies.
While I have no reason not to believe the claims of intelligence agencies, the evidence presented so far is less than overwhelming. As taxpayers, we have the right to see evidence in the form of prosecutions and convictions under these laws. Perhaps the new Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce will gather that evidence and present it before the Australian public.”
“The Taskforce will work into the National Counter Foreign Interference Coordinator that we established last year in the Department of Home Affairs and expand the resources the Coordinator has at their fingertips. It will be led by a senior ASIO officer and bring together a new team of Australian Federal Police investigators and representatives from AUSTRAC, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation. The Office of National Intelligence will also support the Taskforce.
The new dedicated capability of the Taskforce will also increase the collaboration and streamline the decision-making between agencies, and strengthen Australia’s analysis of the sophisticated disinformation activities happening across the world, particularly against democratic processes and elections,” says the media release.