Subsection 53(3) of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018 (the FITS Act) requires the Committee to review rules made under ss 53(2) prescribing a new purpose for which information obtained under the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) may be communicated to prescribed persons. This review must be undertaken as soon as possible after the rules are made. The FITS Act requires the Committee to report its comments and recommendations to each House of the Parliament before the end of the applicable disallowance period for that House, being 15 sitting days of that House after the Rules were laid before it.
The Rules amend the 2018 FITS Rules to authorise the Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department to communicate scheme information to the Minister and Department responsible for the Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Act 2020 (the Foreign Relations Act) for the purposes of administering that Act.
The Foreign Relations Act established the Foreign Arrangements Scheme and is administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in order to ensure a consistent approach to foreign policy across all levels of Australian Government. It requires State and Territory entities to notify the Minister for Foreign Affairs of pre-existing and prospective arrangements with foreign entities. The Minister may cancel, vary or prevent an arrangement from proceeding if it is inconsistent with Australia's foreign policy or adversely affects Australia's foreign relations.
A small number of entities may be within the scope of both the FITS Act and the Foreign Relations Act. For instance, an entity may be a foreign principal or conducting activities under the Scheme, whilst also party to an arrangement covered by the Foreign Relations Act. In light of this interaction, sharing information under the Rules would assist DFAT to administer the Foreign Arrangements Scheme and would improve the interoperability of the two schemes.
The rules under review can be found at the following link - Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Amendment Rules 2023
On Monday 11 September 2023 the Committee tabled a report by statement into the review. A copy of the statement is available below.
Report by statement Review of the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Amendment Rules 2023