Commencement of Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme

The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme introduces a new registration requirement for anyone acting on behalf of a foreign entity where the intended purpose is to influence political outcomes. The Scheme commences on Monday, 10 December 2018.

The Scheme has been designed to ensure anyone exerting such influence on Australian government policies or democratic processes does so in an open and transparent way.

Organisations and individuals are required by law to register activities which are conducted

  • On behalf of a foreign entity and
  • For the purpose of political or government influence.

Most academic activity is not conducted on behalf of foreign governments for the sole purpose of influencing Australian governments: however, international engagement and collaboration is a fundamental feature of academic work.  Disciplinary areas involved in academic commentary on politics and government should carefully consider whether any of their collaborative projects, consultancy work or published commentary could be characterised as primarily intended to influence Australian governments.

It may be prudent to register – rather face the potential consequences.

Penalties of up to 5 years’ imprisonment apply to individuals who fail to register, and also to those who ignore the disclosure obligations of others when the nature of their activities is known to them. Those supervising, approving or assessing the academic work or engagement activities of others should bear this obligation in mind.

All University personnel must comply with the law and are expected to act with the best interests of the University, and of the nation, in mind. See our recent blog article to learn more about your integrity obligations.

You can read more about how this legislation impacts University personnel on the Legal and Risk Branch Integrity and Accountability webpage. If you have any concerns, please get in contact with the Legal and Risk Branch.

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