Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today announced sweeping new laws designed to rid Australian politics of foreign influence and defend against espionage.
The reform includes the introduction of a foreign influence transparency register, the banning of foreign political donations, and formation of a new crime against foreign influence.
Even the offence of espionage will be broadened. Under the new framework, possessing or receiving information will be deemed as illegal as passing on information.
“Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process, both here and abroad,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra today.
“Being registered should not be seen as any kind of taint and certainly not as a crime.
“If you fail to disclose your ties, then you will be liable for a criminal offence.”
And while the PM did touch on recent "disturbing reports" about China’s influence, he also pointed at Russia’s alleged interference in US politics to highlight that it was a global issue and not a reaction to the concerning revelations regarding Sam Dastyari and Chinese businessman and political donor Huang Xiangmo.
“These reforms are not about any one country,” he stated.
However, he did return to batter Mr Dastyari in Question Time just an hour and a half later.
"Senator Dastyari sold Australia out," Mr Turnbull said.
“China respects strength, they respect honesty, they expect the Australian Government to stand up for Australia's interests, to be frank and honest and when we differ to do so honestly, not to sell out Australia for a few thousand dollars.”
Attorney-General George Brandis also indicated that the new laws would prevent Mr Dastyari’s close association with Mr Huang, who is known to have Communist Party links.
“If you act covertly on behalf of a foreign actor, in a way that harms Australia's national security, to influence the political process, or a Government decision, that conduct will be criminalised,” he said.