14 Feb 2020
Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Statement
ASPI is an independent, non-partisan think tank that produces expert and timely advice for Australia’s strategic and defence leaders. To this end, ASPI is proactive in its disclosure of funding to ensure strong transparency and accountability.
ASPI’s annual reporting through the Minister to Parliament is a strong transparency and accountability measure, imposing the same accountability for our operations and use of funds as other public sector entities. Our compliance is audited by the ANAO.
ASPI is also one of the very few Australian organisations, including think tanks and universities, that has registered under the FITS. This is consistent with the spirit of transparency and accountability of our independent organisation.
The ASPI grant amount cited in the Senate this week was incorrect. The 2019 State Department grant cited was for less than half the amount quoted in Parliament. These grant funds were used for ASPI’s China Defence Universities Tracker project [https://unitracker.aspi.org.au/]. As this grant falls within the current financial year, it will be reported in ASPI’s 2019-20 annual report that will be tabled to Parliament.
We are incredibly proud of the China Defence Universities tracker project. It was an enormous piece of in-depth analysis that is data driven, policy relevant and rigorously researched by our analysts. Importantly, the idea for the project came about in 2018 in response to requests from the university sector – in Australia and overseas – for more analysis and Chinese-language support to better understand potential research partners in China. The feedback we have had on the project, from universities in Australia and around the world, has so far been excellent and it is being well-used by both university sectors and governments.
In 2019 ASPI created a webpage to explain its registration on the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme (FITS), an Australian Government initiative that aims to provide the public and government decision-makers with visibility of the nature, level and extent of foreign influence on Australia’s government and political process.
ASPI registers projects under the FITS as necessary; funding from the U.S. State Department, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Government of Japan have been listed on FITS: https://www.aspi.org.au/foreign-influence-transparency-scheme
The FITS complements ASPI’s existing disclosure and reporting methods. As with all of ASPI’s work, ASPI retains independent control over the content and direction of all foreign funded or sponsored work. This is made clear in the agreements with each principal and is essential both to comply with the ASPI’s charter, which requires ASPI to provide independent analysis and advice, and to protect ASPI’s reputation for independence in its research and commentary.
For more information on the Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme please visit: https://www.ag.gov.au/Integrity/foreign-influence-transparency-scheme/Pages/default.aspx
To see ASPI’s annual reports since its inception in 2001 please visit: https://www.aspi.org.au/annual-reports