“The Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department, Chris Moraitis, must stand down pending an investigation into how his department abused its power to target Australians because of their political beliefs,” said Daniel Wild, Director of Research at free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.
On Saturday, The Australian reported that Andrew Cooper, the organiser of a conservative political conference that took place in Sydney in August, received a letter from the Attorney-General’s Department demanding the production of documents under the federal government’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS), introduced last December.
“Bureaucrats are running a covert political operation out of the Attorney-General’s Department to silence Australians because of their political beliefs,” said Mr Wild
“The FITS legislation is not being applied impartially or in good faith by the public service. Instead, Australians like Andrew Cooper are being targeted because of their political views.”
“The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme must be repealed. Concerns about foreign influence should be addressed directly, rather than through vaguely worded legislation which can be abused by bureaucrats.”
The threats to our fundamental freedoms contained in the FITS legislation were identified in the IPA’s Legal Rights Audit 2018. The Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Act 2018 was found to remove procedural fairness, the right to silence, and the privilege against self-incrimination.
“These laws belong in 1960s East Germany, not in a country like Australia.”
“If the government fails to act swiftly, Section 45(2) could very well become the new Section 18C,” said Mr Wild.
Download the IPA’s Legal Rights Audit 2018 here.