Australia considers changes to proposed foreign interference law: minister

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 05, 2018 6:07 PM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia is considering changes to proposed new laws designed to prevent improper foreign interference in its domestic politics after a backlash from journalists and local business, the country's most senior legal minister said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in December said new rules, modeled on the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act, would be introduced to curb improper Chinese influence.

But under pressure from opponents who say the new rules would strip protections for whistle-blowers and journalists, Australia's attorney general, Christian Porter, said changes were likely.

"My personal view is that improvements could be made," Porter told Sky News.

The proposed new rules have also soured Australia's relationship with China, the country's largest trading partner.

China took the unusual step in December of summoning Australia's ambassador to lodge a complaint against Canberra's allegation that Beijing had sought to interfere in Australian politics.

(Reporting by Colin PackhamEditing by Matthew Lewis)