The Government is concerned about growing attempts by foreign governments or their proxies to exert inappropriate influence on and to undermine Australia’s sovereign institutions and decision-making. Such attempts at foreign interference are part of a wider global trend that has affected other democracies. Foreign interference aims to shape the actions of decision-makers and public opinion to achieve an outcome favourable to foreign interests.
Likewise, ensuring Australia’s business interests and intellectual property are not subject to theft through espionage is important to our national interests. The Government endeavours to prevent state-sponsored actions that harm our economic and commercial interests.
All states seek to advance their interests by persuading others to their point of view. This is a central and legitimate task of diplomacy. Foreign interference goes further by using clandestine or deceptive means to affect political, governmental or even commercial processes to cause harm to Australian interests.
Technology has broadened the tools available to states engaging in foreign interference. New media platforms, for example, provide opportunities to sow misinformation.
The Government will act to protect the sovereignty, integrity and transparency of our institutions. We will ensure that national decision-making and institutions remain free from foreign interference. This is one of our most important national interests.
Protecting critical infrastructure
The Government is committed to protecting the security of critical infrastructure, including from the threat of sabotage, espionage or coercion. The potential national security risks to critical infrastructure are complex and will evolve as infrastructure relies more heavily on cyber-enabled technologies and outsourced services.
In response, the Critical Infrastructure Centre will identify and manage high-risk critical assets and systems that are vital to our national wellbeing. It works across government and with infrastructure owners and operators to identify and manage security risks.
The Centre will provide greater certainty and clarity to investors and industry. The Government is also implementing security reforms in our telecommunications sector to strengthen networks against potential threats.