Canberra Free To Cancel Dangerous Pacts With Beijing, Including Belt and Road in Victoria
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has new powers to veto or scrap agreements that state governments reach with foreign powers under new laws passed on Tuesday.
The laws passed by Parliament on Tuesday will give the foreign minister the ability to stop new and previously signed agreements between overseas governments and Australia's eight states and territories, and with bodies such as local authorities and universities.
Mr Morrison's government will be able to block or curtail foreign involvement in a broad range of sectors such as infrastructure, trade cooperation, tourism, cultural collaboration, science, health and education, including university research partnerships.
Government will be able to target an agreement the Victoria state government signed in 2018 to join Communist China leader Xi Jinping's signature infrastructure-building Belt and Road Initiative.
The broadest pact on the cooperation with Beijing is lined to be scrapped
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters last week that his government wasn't considering withdrawing from its BRI agreement due to the worsening ties, the Australian Associated Press reported.
But here is mounting concern in intelligence circles about China's influence in industry, universities, and a programme under which academics sign over intellectual property rights to their work in return for research grants, the Australian newspaper reported in April.
130 agreements of the states and territories with Communist China to be reviewed
Beyond the BRI deal signed by Victoria, which aims to increase Communist China's participation in new infrastructure projects, the law may allow the federal government to review and overturn memorandums of understanding between Beijing and the governments of Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania in sectors ranging from investment, science cooperation and access to the Antarctic.
The law will establish a public register to provide transparency to the foreign minister's decisions and states and territories will be given three months to deliver a stock-take of their existing agreements.
Partnerships between Australian universities and Beijing-sponsored bodies could be scrapped.