Countering foreign interference in institutions of democracy

​​​Australian society is characterised by the value placed on democratic ideals, respect for individual freedoms, equality of opportunity for all people, and a commitment to the rule of law. The quality and resilience of our democratic institutions and processes are key foundations of our way of life. Protecting democratic institutions and systems is critical to Australia’s efforts to counter foreign interference, and is essential to maintaining a healthy and robust democratic society.

Attempts at foreign interference are occurring at all levels of government, in all states and territories. Foreign powers may seek to undermine confidence in the integrity of election outcomes.  They may also attempt to cultivate or recruit officials at any level of government, including potential future candidates and people that work closely with them, to gain a coercive or clandestine influence over government decision-makers.

The CFICC works in partnership with democratic institutions including state, territory and local government agencies to assist them in developing appropriate frameworks and safeguards to counter foreign interference. The CFICC also works with the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), through the Electoral Integrity Assurance Taskforce (EIAT), to provide support for Australian elections.

Elected officials and government officials at all levels of government can protect themselves and our democratic institutions from the risk of foreign interference by engaging in appropriate due diligence including:

  • Understanding relationships - knowing the people they work with and possible associations they might have with foreign powers, their position on sensitive policy matters and any history they might have in terms of sensitive legal and ethical issues.
  • Being open and transparent in interactions - abiding by professional obligations by making appropriate declarations of interest and acting in accordance with the code of conduct. Relationships conducted in an open, lawful and transparent manner are less likely to present a foreign interference risk.
  • Understanding the potential warning signs of foreign interference and how to make informed decisions to mitigate risks.
  • Reporting instances of suspected foreign interference to the National Security Hotline.

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