Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Register Registration Record

Registrant - Individual
Full name Kevin Rudd
Other names the registrant is or has been known by
Occupation Former Prime Minister
Activity type Other activity (former Cabinet Minister or recent designated position holder)
Activity start date 16/10/2022
Activity end date 16/10/2022
Activity description
 In my capacity as Global President and CEO of the Asia Society, I authorised a letter to the International Liaison Department on the occasion of their 20th National Congress in response to an approach by them. This is an external affairs department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. The letter was drafted to be consistent with the bipartisan policies of successive Liberal-National and Labor Governments of Australia by noting international support for China’s development through reform and opening, and expressing hope that those attending the congress would pursue policies in support of peace, prosperity and sustainability. The letter read in full: “中国的长期改革开放为中国人民和世界都做出了巨大贡献,包括扶贫的成就。这些都在世界各国为中国赢得赞誉。 作为中国近40年来一直的老“诤友”,我也深知党代会对于中国未来的至关重要。我向中国领导层的朋友们致以我们的良好祝愿。 也向大会关于中国重大政策的讨论致以良好希望。这些政策将影响世界未来的和平,繁荣和可持续发展。” I have instructed that the letter be published on my website in translation:
Foreign Principal
Foreign principal type Foreign government related entity
Foreign principal commencement date 28/10/2022
Foreign principal cease date 20/03/2023
Name of foreign principal International Liaison Department
Trading name
Foreign business registration number
Description of the arrangement with the foreign principal
I refer to Acting Secretary Anderson’s letter of 12 January 2021. In it, Mr Anderson expressed a much narrower interpretation of my obligations under this scheme’s special requirements for former cabinet ministers than was expressed by his predecessor, Mr Moraitis, less than two months earlier on 25 November 2020. My lawyer first contacted the Department in September 2019 to clarify my obligations. He did so at my initiative, despite his advice that I had nothing to register. I am not an agent of foreign influence and any such suggestion is forcefully rejected. I engage internationally as an individual, a scholar, a commentator, a former leader and in my roles with non-government and UN-affiliated institutions – never as an agent on behalf of any foreign government. The Acting Secretary’s letter maintained his predecessor’s view that some of my appointments are registrable. However, he indicated that “merely communicating with a foreign principal or a person/entity from an international jurisdiction is not in itself a registrable activity... Similarly, merely meeting with a foreign government – at their request or yours – to discuss current issues would not be registrable”. This significantly narrower interpretation was confirmed by departmental officials to my representatives in a conference call on 19 January 2021, recorded in our letter of 20 January. Nonetheless, the Acting Secretary has maintained the strange view that discussions of current issues should be registered if they take place with international public broadcasters, such as the BBC or Radio New Zealand. This defies the Attorney-General’s public statement that this law would be interpreted with “common sense”. It is ridiculous to imagine that being interviewed by the BBC could make someone an agent of UK Government influence, especially if they use that platform to criticise the UK Government, as I often do. Given such interviews are already publicly transparent when they are broadcast or published, disclosing them here seems redundant. For this reason, I requested an exemption from the Department from this burden. This was refused. I wholly support this legislation which, when properly implemented, has the potential to help safeguard Australia’s core interests by highlighting potential agents of foreign influence. However, the Department’s sweeping interpretation will result in the waste of both officials’ time and taxpayer funds. Australia must have dozens, if not hundreds, of living former cabinet ministers, all of whom must now be chased by the Department to register engagements that, by their nature, are already on the public record. The Department had also earlier expressed the view that I should consider registering my enrolment as a research student at Oxford University. However, in a telephone call to my office on 20 January, the Department’s officer indicated that, upon further reflection, they did not believe that merely being a student at a foreign university constituted an arrangement “on behalf of” that institution. Further, I am concerned about the implications for the press. I have obtained advice from Bret Walker SC as to the obligations of media organisations, such as News Corporation, which frequently make confidential arrangements with foreign governments seeking to covertly influence Australia. I have written to the Department on this topic in the hope that they can work through the detail with professional journalists through their union, the MEAA, to properly balance the requirements of national security and press freedom. As this is a matter of clear public interest, I have published this advice online and provided it to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee: