Australia’s highest court upholds foreign interference law

Jun 15, 2021, 8:56 PM | Updated: 10:18 pm

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s highest court on Wednesday rejected a challenge to foreign interference laws in a case that involved a U.S. conservative political organization and free speech arguments.

China has condemned the laws introduced in 2018 that are widely seen as a means of preventing covert Chinese interference in Australian politics, universities and other institutions.

People working on behalf of a foreign powers have to be publicly registered with the Attorney-General’s Department in the interests of transparency.

But LibertyWorks Inc., an Australian libertarian think tank, objected to having to register while working on communications for the American Conservative Union ahead of conferences held in Australia. LibertyWorks promotes the American group’s annual political conferences.

LibertyWorks argued the so-called Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act was not valid because it burdened the implied right to free speech in Australia.

LibertyWorks said the registration process was “onerous” and therefore deterred political communication.

But six of the seven High Court judges found the law was valid and any burden was justified.

“Even when the purpose of the foreign interference is not to damage or destabilize Australia, if left undisclosed it can impede the ability of decision-makers in Australia,” Justices Susan Kiefel, Patrick Keane and Jacqueline Gleeson wrote.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash welcomed the ruling.

“Foreign influence activities, when conducted in an open and transparent manner, can contribute positively to public debate and are welcome in Australia,” her office said in a statement.

“The scheme is not there to prohibit people or entities from undertaking these activities. Rather, it acknowledges that it is in the public interest that these arrangements are transparent,” the statement added.

LibertyWorks president Andrew Cooper could not be immediately contacted for comment.

The case was the first challenge to Australia’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme.

John Shi Sheng Zhang, a Chinese-born political adviser to a state government lawmaker, last month lost his High Court challenge to charges under the foreign interference laws. He remains under police investigation.

The leader of a Chinese community organization in November become the first person to be charged under Australia’s foreign interference laws.

Di Sanh Duong, 65, who lives in the Australian city of Melbourne, has a relationship with a foreign intelligence agency, police said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Dead fish lie on the banks of the German-Polish border river Oder in Lebus, eastern Germanny, Satur...
Associated Press

What killed tons of fish in European river? Mystery deepens

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Laboratory tests following a mass die-off of fish in the Oder River detected high levels of salinity but no mercury poisoning its waters, Poland’s environment minister said Saturday as the mystery continued as to what killed tons of fish in Central Europe. Anna Moskwa, the minister of climate and environment, said […]
11 hours ago
FILE - Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., speaks before President Joe Biden signs the $1.2 trillion bipa...
Associated Press

Sinema took Wall Street money while killing tax on investors

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, the Arizona Democrat who single-handedly thwarted her party’s longtime goal of raising taxes on wealthy investors, received nearly $1 million over the past year from private equity professionals, hedge fund managers and venture capitalists whose taxes would have increased under the plan. For years, Democrats have promised to raise […]
11 hours ago
Employees stand around the turbine serviced in Canada for the Nordstream 1 natural gas pipeline in ...
Associated Press

Germans urged to cap heat in offices this winter to save gas

BERLIN (AP) — German businesses and public institutions should heat their offices no higher than 19 degrees Celsius (66.2 degrees Fahrenheit) this winter to help reduce the country’s consumption of natural gas, Germany’s economy minister said Saturday. Germany, the European Union’s biggest economy, is quickly trying to wean itself off using natural gas from Russia […]
11 hours ago
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green, left, and his wife, Jamie, greet passing cars while campaigning in Hono...
Associated Press

Hawaii voters picking nominees in race to succeed Gov. Ige

HONOLULU (AP) — The candidates running in Saturday’s primary election to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. David Ige include a former first lady, a retired mixed martial arts champion and a congressman who moonlights as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot. Democratic U.S. Rep. Kaiali’i Kahele’s decision to run for governor has opened up his congressional seat representing […]
11 hours ago
A prototype trash can called Salt and Pepper is seen near the Embarcadero in San Francisco on July ...
Associated Press

What takes years and costs $20K? A San Francisco trash can

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — What takes four years to make and costs more than $20,000? A trash can in San Francisco. That costly, boxy bin is among six trash cans hitting San Francisco’s streets this summer in the city’s long saga in search of the perfect can. Overflowing trash cans are a common sight in […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Police: Officers in Texas fatally shoot man with rifle

RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (AP) — Police in suburban Fort Worth fatally shot a man who pointed a rifle at them, authorities said. The shooting Friday in Richland Hills happened as two officers were investigating reports of gunshots along a city street. They found a man carrying a rifle about two blocks away, according to Richland […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
Australia’s highest court upholds foreign interference law