Foreign interference in Australian politics has become a serious problem, a top official said yesterday, with tougher laws on espionage and overseas donations to be introduced in parliament.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ordered an inquiry in June after media revelations that the nation's spy agency had warned the country's political elite two years ago about taking donations from two billionaires with links to the Chinese Communist Party.
The probe, by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and Fairfax Media, said that despite being cautioned, both the Liberals and Labor continued accepting substantial sums of cash.
It said intelligence agencies had major concerns that China was interfering in Australian institutions and using the political donations system to gain access. Beijing denied the allegations as groundless.
"The issue of foreign interference in our politics is an extremely serious problem," Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament.
"So I can tell the Senate that later this week the government will introduce a milestone legislative package to reform Australia's espionage and foreign interference legislation."