Foreign interference law dangerous: Greens

Matt Coughlan
Nick McKim is angry about a Labor-Coalition deal on new foreign interference and spying laws

The Australian Greens have warned new foreign interference and spying legislation could have dangerous and draconian ramifications, calling for more scrutiny of draft laws.

Senator Nick McKim is furious about a deal between the government and Labor to force the bill through parliament before the end of the week.

"We are seeing again rights, freedoms and liberties in this country, that we used to sacrifice Australian lives to defend ... eroded away before our very eyes," Senator McKim told the upper house on Wednesday.

The package updates national security laws to prevent foreign spies from influencing Australian politicians, media, ethnic groups and civil society organisations.

There will be a new register for people acting on behalf of foreign powers and a parallel register for MPs who take actions on behalf of foreign governments.

Senator McKim believes the increased intelligence powers are putting Australia on a path to a police state.

"There are early warning signs of fascism in our country," he said.

Labor's Senate leader Penny Wong said she had deep concerns with the original bill, which lacked protections for journalists, charities and churches and universities.

But Labor is now supporting the reforms after the government accepted scores of changes to the legislation recommended by a parliamentary committee.

"Laws developed in the age of letters and telegrams are clearly not fit in the age of social media," Senator Wong said.