Bipartisan reply to China is a triumph Australia will need to repeat

Bipartisan reply to China is a triumph Australia will need to repeat, by Greg Sheridan.

The espionage and foreign interference legislation that a bipartisan parliamentary committee has now approved is a response to blatant Chinese espionage and interference in Australia.

The legislation has upset Beijing. Canberra and Beijing are involved in disagreements over a bewildering range of issues at the moment. … We are in for a lot more disagreement with Beijing. As one cabinet minister puts it: “We are in for some rough times.” …

Although they don’t say it on the record, everyone in the national security establishment acknowledges that Beijing undertakes the greatest espionage efforts and the greatest influence efforts of any foreign power in Australia.

It is also the case that Australia has never been subject to more cyber attacks, and the greatest source of cyber attacks is also Beijing.

At the same time, Australian civil society, media, think tanks, academics, activists and the rest have engaged in a wide-ranging debate. And then the two sides of mainstream politics have thrashed out a workable, effective legislative compromise that can command bipartisan support.

The efforts of the intelligence committee chairman, the Liberals’ Andrew Hastie, and his Labor deputy, Anthony Byrne, have been hard-headed, conscientious and put the national interest first. At a time when politics seems feral, tribal, atomised and frequently deranged, this cold, hard, bipartisan approach on national security is something like the ­nation at its best. … In other words, this is an area where Australian society, politics and governing institutions have worked effectively.

hat-tip Stephen Neil