The Group of Eight (Go8), which represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, has welcomed the decision of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to hold hearings into the amendments suggested by the Attorney General’s department to the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS) Bill.
As noted previously, the Go8 considers these amendments to be measured and sensible, and in line with the numerous discussions the Go8 has had with the Attorney General, his office and his department.
“The Go8 has always supported the intent of the legislation to protect Australia’s national political and democratic processes. Our concern has always been that the Bill, as it was drafted, opened the door to a wide range of unintended consequences, putting at risk Australia’s high performing research and education sector – at which the Go8 is front and centre,” said Vicki Thomson, Chief Executive.
“The proposed amendments are a strong indication that the Government has listened to our concerns and has recognised the need to support Australian universities and research.
“Go8 universities are sought after world-wide as high-quality research partners, capable of producing breakthrough discoveries such as Gardasil, Cochlear implants and Elastagen. These are achievements Australia should rightly be celebrating, not inadvertently capturing as activities of potential foreign ‘influence’.
“Our ability to work with the best and brightest researchers, wherever they are around the world, greatly enhances our capacity to deliver export earnings of around $3 billion back into the Australian economy.
“We thank the Attorney-General for his consideration of the issues we have raised, and for suggesting amendments that will go a long way to ensuring Australia has the protections it deserves, while not causing inadvertent damage to our high performing industries.
We urge the Parliamentary Joint Committee to include them in its final report to Government. We then look forward to working with the Government and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to ensure that our universities are able to continue to our vital work to the benefit of Australia and all Australians.”
Contact: Vicki Thomson Group of Eight Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472