State government agreements with foreign nations, such as the contentious arrangement between Victoria and China, may be revoked under a new Morrison government programme.
The federal coalition is flagging legislation with other countries to review and scrap state, province, local council and public university deals.
It will also encourage Foreign Minister Marise Payne to nip major agreements in the bud after an attempt to negotiate with another country is informed by states and territories.
It would require federal approval for all deals and could be revoked later.
In order to negotiate, councils or universities would not need permission, but would need to inform the minister before entering into an agreement with foreign government entities.
The non-legally binding sign of Victoria on China’s belt and road initiative has given rise to questions about foreign intervention.
The state government, however, maintains that the agreement is about improving jobs and trade in infrastructure projects.
The foreign minister will have the power to cancel private contracts, such as the belt and road plan, arising from foreign deals.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australians had correctly expected foreign policy to be set by the federal government.
“It is vital that when it comes to Australia’s dealings with the rest of the world we speak with one voice and work to one plan,” he said.
He said it was critical that all state government, council or university agreements be known to the federal government.
“Where any of these agreements undermine how the federal government is protecting and promoting our national interests they can be cancelled,” Mr Morrison said.
Within six months of the new regime coming into effect, a stocktaking of current Commonwealth agreements would have to be done by the states and other bodies covered.
If they are inconsistent with foreign policy or are harmful to relations with other nations, the minister would have the power to cancel agreements.
Details on agreements and ministerial decisions will be detailed in the public registry.
By the end of the year the government is ready to pass the bill and will next week submit legislation to the federal parliament.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the amendments would insure that all international agreements are consistent with the principles of Australia.
“It is vital for Australia’s prosperity, security and sovereignty that our foreign policy is driven by our national interest,” she said.
Security officials have briefed state and territorial governments in recent weeks on the consequences for negotiations that will be guarded.