Australia Sets up Taskforce Against Foreign Interference

Edward Johnson

(Bloomberg) -- Australia is setting up a new taskforce to tackle the threat of foreign interference, amid continued headlines about Chinese meddling in the nation’s political affairs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government is spending A$87.8 million ($59 million) on the new body, which will be led by a senior officer from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and draw on the federal police, the financial crimes agency and the cyber intelligence agency, according to a statement Monday.

“This is a boost to our ability to discover, track and disrupt foreign interference in Australia,” Morrison said in the statement. The new body will “strengthen Australia’s analysis of the sophisticated disinformation activities happening across the world, particularly against democratic processes and elections.”

There are increasing concerns that China is becoming bolder in undermining democracies, with reports in recent weeks that suspected Chinese operatives tried to fund a candidate to run for a parliamentary seat in Melbourne, while a self-professed Chinese spy has offered intelligence information to Australia and is seeking asylum.

Chinese Spies Spook Democracies From U.S. to Europe to Australia

Beijing has consistently denied such claims of interfering in the affairs of other countries.

To contact the reporter on this story: Edward Johnson in Sydney at ejohnson28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Vercoe at pvercoe@bloomberg.net

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