The federal government will have the power to veto new agreements and cancel existing ones between state and territory governments and foreign governments, under legislation to be announced on Thursday.
Local councils and universities are set to be included in the new rules, which are designed to ensure all agreements with foreign government bodies align with the national interest.
Under the new rules, to be introduced in Parliament next week, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne would be able to stop state and territory governments from agreements with foreign governments if deemed to be against the national interest.
Agreements could include anything from sister-city relationships to trade and economic agreements, and co-operation on research and infrastructure projects.
It would cover agreements that are legally binding under Australian and foreign laws, as well as non-legally binding agreements.
The test would ask if the agreement is consistent with Australia's foreign policy and if it would have a negative affect on Australia's international relations.
Senator Payne would also have the power to dissolve existing agreements, meaning she could move to cancel a memorandum of understanding between the Victorian government and China on the Belt and Road Initiative, the country's foreign infrastructure project.
Other agreements which could be quashed under the new powers include a two-decade old memorandum of understanding between the ACT government and the Hangzhou Municipal People's Government on Environmental Management Technology, Building Techniques, Information Technology, Education and Tourism Promotion.
A deal between the Australian National University and the University of South China, where scientists collaborate on fusion energy research, could also be in the cross hairs, as could an ANU MoU with the Allameh Tabataba'i University on International Academic Cooperation in Iran.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has previously accused Australian universities like ANU of unwittingly creating major security risks by collaborating with universities in China that operate as arms of China's military, intelligence and political leadership.
The ANU has links with at least five of China's "seven sons of National Defence", including the Northwestern Polytechnical University, the Beijing Institute of Technology and Beihang University, and Nanjing University of Science and Technology, a database created by ASPI shows.
"Australians rightly expect the federal government they elect to set foreign policy," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
"These changes and new laws will ensure that every arrangement done by any Australian government at any level now lines up with how we are working to protect and promote Australia's national interest."
Under current arrangements, the federal government has no way of knowing about such agreements, except if they are reported publicly.
Governments and organisations covered by the laws would be required to complete a stocktake of their agreements with foreign governments within six months of the laws passing, and register them with the federal government to be included on a public register.
It's understood the government wants to ensure there is a single voice on Australia's foreign policy.
Mr Morrison has been increasingly active in the international sphere since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, taking part in a series of bilateral video-conference virtual summits, and has spoken to the leaders of dozens of country leaders directly.