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 Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme

The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme commenced on 10 December 2018. Its purpose is to provide the public and government decision-makers with visibility of the nature, level and extent of foreign influence on Australia's government and political process.

The scheme introduces registration obligations for persons and entities who have arrangements with, and undertake certain activities on behalf of, foreign principals. Whether a person or entity is required to register will depend on who the foreign principal is, the nature of the activities undertaken, the purpose for which the activities are undertaken, and in some cases, whether the person has held a senior public position in Australia.

Click here to view the Public Register. 

A range of guidance materials to assist potential registrants to understand their obligations under the scheme is available on the Resources page. To register, please go to the Registration portal.

On 3 April 2019, a number of amendments were made to the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018. These amendments improved the operation of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme by clarifying the scope of a number of key provisions and aligning some of the scheme's key reporting obligations. In particular the amendments:

  • change the definition of 'communications activity' to include the production of information and materials on behalf of a foreign principal for the purpose of communicating or distributing that information or material to the public or a section of the public
  • require all persons that undertake communications activity to include appropriate disclosures in those materials, regardless of whether they are already registered under the scheme, and
  • align the reporting and registration requirements under the Act so that people who are liable to register under the scheme are required to comply with all requirements to make disclosures and report on activities undertaken on behalf of a foreign principal that may occur before they actually register. 

Factsheets 9 and 10 on the Resources page have been updated to reflect these amendments. 

Scheme summary

Under the scheme, people or entities that undertake certain activities on behalf of a foreign principal for the purpose of political or governmental influence are required to register unless an exemption applies.
A foreign principal includes:

  • a foreign government
  • a foreign political organisation
  • a foreign government related entity
  • a foreign government related individual.

Categories of registrable activities include:

  • parliamentary lobbying on behalf of a foreign government
  • parliamentary lobbying on behalf of other kinds of foreign principals for the purpose of political or governmental influence
  • general political lobbying for the purpose of political or governmental influence
  • communications activities for the purpose of political or government influence
  • disbursement activities for the purpose of political or governmental influence
  • activities undertaken by former Cabinet ministers on behalf of a foreign principal
  • activities undertaken by recent designated position holders in the 15 year period immediately following their public role where those activities draw on the knowledge, skills or experience gained in their previous role.

The scheme also:

  • allows for the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to issue a transparency notice if the Secretary is satisfied that a person is a foreign government related entity, or a foreign government related individual, and
  • allows for the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to issue a transparency notice if the Secretary is satisfied that a person is a foreign government related entity, or a foreign government related individual, and
  • establishes criminal offences ranging from failing to comply with obligations under the scheme, through to failing to register in circumstances where a person is required to do so.

For more detailed information about the scheme, please refer to the Resources page.

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