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Foreign Relations Bill safeguards Australia’s national interest

I welcome the Morrison Government’s announcement of new legislation which will ensure the arrangements that states, territories, councils and universities have with foreign governments (Arrangement) are consistent with Australian foreign policy.

The Foreign Relations Bill will safeguard Australia’s national sovereign interests from any Arrangement which seeks to undermine those interests.

Under the reforms, the Foreign Minister will have the power to review all existing and prospective Arrangements.  Arrangements which adversely affect Australia’s foreign relations or are inconsistent with our foreign policy could be prevented from proceeding or terminated.

This legislation will support state and territory governments to ensure they are acting in a way that serves Australia’s national interests, is consistent with our values and aligned with our foreign policy objectives. This will give states and territories the confidence necessary to enter into arrangements with foreign government entities.

This Bill means, I believe, the end of the road for the Victorian Government’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement with China.

In contrast to the strong stand I have taken against the BRI, left wing Victorian Labor MPs Libby Coker, Catherine King and Lisa Chesters have remained stony silent about the dangers of the BRI.  China’s BRI program is not only intended to promote China’s economic and global interests but give priority to Chinese workers and infrastructure projects at the risk of Victorian jobs and Australian companies.

The Foreign Relations Bill will also hold universities to account over a wide range of concerning foreign research agreements including the Chinese funded Confucius Centres which are located at 13 Australian universities.

27 August 2020

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