In an unprecedented move against Chinese Communist Party (CCP) interference in Australia’s affairs, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will introduce new legislation, which will allow him to tear up the multimillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreement the State of Victoria signed with Beijing, including hundreds of other deals.
Morrison will use external powers under the constitution to effectively wipe out dozens of agreements made by Australian states with foreign governments and institutions that interfere with national security. Any deals found to do so could be canceled.
The Foreign Relations Bill is to be introduced to Parliament next week. It will include universities, and the net will extend to all agreements between foreign governments and Australian public institutions.
Foreign Minister Sen. Marise Payne will have the power to review any private infrastructure agreements connected to the BRI with CCP. Included will be more than 100 sister-city agreements—long-term partnerships between communities in both countries.
“These changes will provide governments, institutions, and the Australian people with confidence that due diligence is given to international arrangements to ensure they are consistent with our national interest and our values,” said Payne.
Morrison said Australia’s foreign policies and relationships “must always be set to serve Australia’s interests,” reported The Australian.
“One of the most important jobs of the federal government is to protect and promote Australia’s national interest,” the prime minister said. “It is vital that when it comes to Australia’s dealings with the rest of the world we speak with one voice and work to one plan.”
The prime minister intends to scrutinize all foreign agreements, often secret deals that have been made with different states, and any questionable contracts that have been made will be scrapped if they are a threat to Australia’s national security.
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews signed the BRI agreement with the CCP in 2019, ignoring the prime minister and security agency’s constant warnings that doing so would not be in Australia’s best interests.
Three weeks ago, the prime minister and the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO,) presented a security briefing to national Cabinet leaders indicating the sovereign threat the CCP posed to Australia, reported The Australian.
“Australians rightly expect the federal government they elect to set foreign policy. These changes and new laws will ensure that every arrangement done by any Australian government at any level now lines up with how we are working to protect and promote Australia’s national interest.”
Agreements between Australia and other organizations and governments in Russia, Iran, India, Israel, the United States, South Korea, Singapore, Afghanistan, and other countries will also come under scrutiny.