Australia bans foreign donations to political parties after China controversy

Malcolm Turnbull, Australia’s prime minister, has announced a ban on foreign political donations and a crackdown on lobbyists acting for overseas interests following concerns about meddling from abroad, including a scandal involving an MP who made a pro-China speech after receiving a donation from a Chinese property tycoon.

The laws, to be introduced this week, will require lobbyists and former MPs to declare whether they are acting for a foreign country and will create criminal laws aimed at foreign agents who meddle in domestic political affairs.

Announcing the laws in Canberra, Mr Turnbull said he was concerned about alleged attempts by China to interfere in Australian politics as well as the “credible reports” about Russia’s efforts to assist Donald Trump during last year’s United States election campaign.

"Foreign powers are making unprecedented and increasingly sophisticated attempts to influence the political process, both here and abroad," Mr Turnbull said.

“Interference is unacceptable from any country, whether… friend or foe.”

The push to curb foreign interference follows growing concerns about meddling by Chinese individuals and entities in Australian politics and universities.

In recent days, an audio recording emerged of Labor MP Sam Dastyari adopting a pro-China stance over tensions in the South China Sea during a speech in the presence of Huang Xiangmo, a generous donor to Labor who also allegedly has ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

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