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National security

Countering foreign interference

Australia's Director-General of Security noted the unprecedented scale of foreign interference activity against Australia’s interests.

These activities can undermine Australia’s national security, open system of government and sovereignty.

The Australian Government has taken significant steps to strengthen Australia’s capacity to protect us from foreign interference.

On 2 December 2019, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce.

The Taskforce will boost the Australian Government’s ability to discover, track and disrupt foreign interference in Australia.

About foreign interference

It is important to understand the difference between foreign influence and interference.

All governments, including Australia’s, try to influence discussions on issues of importance. When conducted in an open and transparent manner it is foreign influence. These actions contribute positively to public debate and are a welcome part of international engagement.

Foreign interference, in contrast, is activity that is:

    • carried out by, or on behalf of a foreign actor
    • coercive, covert, deceptive, clandestine
    • contrary to Australia’s sovereignty, values and national interests

Foreign interference activities go beyond routine diplomatic influence practiced by governments.

They may take place on their own or alongside espionage activities. 

Foreign interference in Australia

Foreign actors including foreign intelligence services are creating and pursuing opportunities to interfere with Australian decision makers at all levels of government and across a range of sectors including:

  • democratic institutions
  • education and research
  • media and communications
  • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • critical infrastructure

Read more about Australia’s Counter Foreign Interference Strategy

Reporting foreign interference

Contact the National Security Hotline, if you believe you have information of possible foreign interference activities or have seen or heard something suspicious that may need investigation by security agencies.

Phone:

  • 1800 123 400 (in Australia)
  • (+61) 1300 1234 01 (from outside Australia)

Email: hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au

If you wish to report a crime or have information about possible criminal activity, contact your local police:

  • Triple zero (000) in an emergency/ for immediate threats
  • local police on 13 14 44 for non-urgent police assistance
  • Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to provide anonymous information about criminal activity