PROF. JOHN FITZGERALD: Well every government of course has an interest in promoting itself abroad to extending its soft power.
I guess what's different about China is the way in which its run through these clandestine operations.
It's just not out there and open.
Secondly, it's really not out to win an argument, it's out to silence dissent and other countries generally don't operate that way.
They expect to win an argument on its strengths, not to silence all opposition.
The way the Chinese Government or Party through the United Front Department and the Overseas Chinese Bureau operates is effectively to control and silence dissent.
. . .
PROF. RORY MEDCALF: There's an awareness of a problem, but the agencies themselves don't have the mandate or the wherewithal to manage the problem.
All they can do is sound the alarm and alert the political class.
The political class needs to take a set of decisions in the interest of Australian sovereignty, in the interest of Australia's independence policy making, to restrict and limit foreign influence in Australian decision making.
CHRIS UHLMANN: After being briefed on the Four Corners-Fairfax investigation, the Attorney General sent us a statement revealing the Prime Minister has asked him to conduct a major inquiry into Australia's espionage and foreign interference laws.
Senator Brandis said, "the threat of political interference by foreign intelligence services is a problem of the highest order and it is getting worse."