#32 - Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme - Lucinda Atkinson (Attorney General's Department)

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In December 2018 The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme or FITS commenced with the intention to provide 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 depends 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. To help sift the complexities of the legislation and understand how this could practically relate to Australian firms, Lucinda Atkinson, Assistant Secretary from the Federal Attorney General’s Department, describes what a foreign principal is, what activities require registration under the act and how to determine whether someone is acting ‘on behalf or in accordance of the wishes’ of a foreign principal. We look at case studies for ministers of parliament, investors, universities, media organisations and industry groups. We also discuss the process of registration, non-compliance and the future of the act.

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