The Australian government on Monday unveiled a plan to create a new counterintelligence task force to strengthen the country's response to foreign interference.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the planned AU$88 million ($59.6 million) Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce would help to "disrupt and deter anyone attempting to undermine our national interests."
The plan, developed on the advice of Canberra's intelligence agencies, comes amid increased concern about national security following claims of Chinese espionage and a cyberattack on the country's parliamentary network.
(Australian PM Sccot Morrison)
"Foreign interference comes from many, many different sources and it's important that we have the capacity to deal with it," Morrison said. "It's an evolving threat and it's also been a building and evolving response."
In November, local media reported a Chinese spy ring allegedly attempted to plant an agent in the nation's parliament.
According to media organization Nine, Bo "Nick" Zhao, a Melbourne-based luxury car dealer was approached by a Chinese intelligence group offering AU$1 million to fund his campaign for a lower house seat in last May's general election.
Zhao was reportedly found dead in a Melbourne motel room after he disclosed the offer to Australian intelligence officials.
Further, the prime minister in February accused a "sophisticated state actor" of breaching the parliament's computer network in a cyberattack that allowed access to documents of the nation's three major political parties.
Reuters news agency reported in September that sources within Australian intelligence deemed China responsible for the attack.