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National security

Countering foreign interference

Australia's Director-General of Security has stated that foreign interference against Australian interests is occurring on an unprecedented scale.

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

The Australian Government has taken decisive steps to counter foreign interference.

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

Access to, and interference with, Australian interests and decision-making can provide an ongoing advantage to a foreign power.

The more our decision making processes are interfered with by foreign interests, the less chance they have of being made on the basis of judgements about our own national interest.

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