Australia stands firm against China and puts security first

Australia stands firm against China and puts security first, by Paul Kelly.

It now seems certain that in an act of Coalition-Labor bipartisanship, the Australian parliament will pass path-breaking laws to protect our institutions and democracy from new forms of foreign interference in a warning to China and other authoritarian powers.

This bipartisan agreement final­ised late this week is a milestone for our national security and foreign policy. It recognises that in the age of the internet, democracies are vulnerable to a new threat — interference by foreign targeting of media, politics, finance, confidential data and ­ethnic communities.

The likely win for the Turnbull government on these laws is tantamount to a statement of Australian resilience. Above all, it is a declaration Australia has the psychological determination, ­nat­ional capability and political unity required to defend itself against unprecedented threats to our democracy and decision-making. …

Australia’s response has regional and global significance. It is a close US ally with a significant Chinese population, more heavily dependent on trade with China than any industrial nation and a member of the Five Eyes intelligence community. The decision to pass new laws — with more ­almost certain to follow — is being watched in Washington and will be absorbed in the region. It is, ­ultimately, a test of Australian sovereignty and maturity.

hat-tip Stephen Neil