The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018 (FITS) intends to make transparent the influence of foreign governments or political organisations where it occurs outside of easily recognised channels.
Under FITS, a person is required to register within 14 days of undertaking a registrable activity where that activity is undertaken on behalf of a foreign principal.
- Person includes either a natural person or a body corporate.
- Registering means completing or maintaining a record of registrable activities on the Transparency Register, maintained by the Attorney-General’s Department.
- Registrable Activity includes:
- Parliamentary lobbying - Lobbying a Commonwealth parliamentarian (or their staff) for the purpose of political or governmental influence.
- Parliamentary lobbying on behalf of a foreign government - Lobbying a Commonwealth parliamentarian (or their staff) for any purpose.
- General lobbying - Lobbying a Commonwealth official or agency, a political party or candidate for political or governmental influence.
- Communications activity - Communicating material to the public or a section of the public for the purpose of political or governmental influence.
- On behalf of means under some sort of arrangement with, or under the direction or supervision of a foreign principal. This is being interpreted as meaning where a foreign principal has an expectation that an activity will be undertaken on their behalf.
- Foreign principal means any of the following:
- A foreign government or political organisation.
- A foreign government related entity which is an entity other than an individual, who is related to a foreign principal that is a foreign government or a foreign political organisation and includes companies, political bodies and other entities that have a foreign principal that has the ability to exercise some form of control over them.
- A foreign government related individual. It does not simply mean a citizen of a foreign country – an individual is a foreign government-related individual if the individual is not an Australian citizen or an Australian permanent resident, and a foreign government, foreign government-related entity or foreign political organisation is able to exercise total or substantial control over the individual.
University staff members engaging in activities with a foreign principal are required to complete the International Compliance Review - Foreign Engagements form and send the form to Legal and Integrity at firstname.lastname@example.org for advice on any further action that may be required.