Why Australia’s tough national security laws cannot stop foreign interference in our elections

23 Feb 2022

Sarah Kendall writes for The Conversation | Follow Sarah on Twitter

ASIO chief Mike Burgess recently revealed the security agency had detected and disrupted a foreign interference plot in the lead-up to an Australian election. He warned Australia was seeing foreign interference attempts “at all levels of government, in all states and territories”.

These types of threats have long been anticipated. In fact, in 2018, the federal government took the unprecedented step of passing nine new laws to counter foreign interference in politics. These serious national security crimes carry penalties ranging from ten to 20 years in jail. Similar crimes are not found in many other countries.

But are tough national security laws what we need? Will these do enough – or anything at all – to deter the threat of electoral interference in Australia?