Joint media release:

  • Senator James Paterson, Shadow Minister for Cyber Security and Countering Foreign Interference
  • Senator Claire Chandler, Assistant Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


Today, one year has passed since Australia’s Magnitsky-style and other thematic sanctions laws came into effect.


The new laws, passed by the Coalition with bipartisan support, enable Australia to take swift action to sanction individuals and entities responsible for, or complicit in, egregious conduct, including malicious cyber activity, serious human rights abuses and violations, and serious corruption.


Within a few weeks of the new laws coming into effect the Coalition had implemented the first set of Australian Magnitsky-style listings, against Russian individuals responsible for the corruption that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered and those complicit in his subsequent mistreatment and death.


This is a significant foreign policy and human rights reform available to the Australian Government to take tangible actions in step with like-minded partners to deter those responsible for egregious situations of international concern, wherever they occur in the world.


Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Birmingham said the new Government had no excuses to keep withholding action against those known for violating basic human rights.


“These Magnitsky-style sanctions have been available to this Government since their very first day in office, yet have not been used once,” said Shadow Minister Birmingham.


“We are all sadly aware of the escalating oppression in Iran and seen the UN Human Rights Commissioner’s report of the abuses against Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.


“Penny Wong accused the former government of delaying sanctions reforms and sending the wrong signal to human rights abusers. What sort of signal does the Albanese Government’s failure to use the legislated reforms now send?


“This Saturday will be Human Rights Day. It is time for this Government to stop brushing aside the need for action and catch up to other like-minded nations by taking tangible action.”


Shadow Minister for Cyber Security Senator James Paterson said the Russian-based hackers believed to be responsible for the Medibank attack would be a prime candidate for targeted sanctions under Australia’s Magnitsky sanctions regime.


“With crime, conflict and competition increasingly moving into the cyber realm, Australia led the world by including serious cyber offences in our sanctions regime. This is a powerful tool available to the government to send a strong message and impose a real cost to perpetrators of serious cyber crimes.”


Shadow Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Claire Chandler said the killing of women, children and peaceful protesters by authorities in Iran is exactly the type of scenario Magnitsky-style sanctions were brought in to respond to.


“However, the Government has refused to sanction any of the individuals and entities in the Iranian regime who we know to be responsible for these abhorrent crimes,” said Senator Chandler.


“The Government’s decision not to sanction known human rights abusers in Iran is out of step with our international partners and inconsistent with the Parliament’s intentions when we passed these laws.”


On this anniversary, the Opposition offers bipartisanship and restates our calls on the Australian Government to implement sanctions to support the many people standing for basic human rights.