Foreign Minister Marise Payne has indicated she is pushing for the Morrison government to create new laws allowing sanctions on human rights abusers abroad.
A parliamentary committee last year released a report following an inquiry into Magnitsky-style targeted sanctions.
The legislation would allow the government to name people linked to breaches of international law or corruption and ban from travelling to or investing in Australia, as well as other financial sanctions.
Senator Payne described the report recommending the new laws as helpful.
"I've written to the prime minister and we'll make our response in due course," she told Senate estimates on Thursday.
Senators questioned why Australia had not joined with the US, European Union, the UK and Canada in announcing sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
"We don't have the same sanction application capacity in the Magnitsky sense," Senator Payne said.
The proposed reforms are named after lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Moscow jail after accusing Russian officials of tax fraud.
The foreign minister said the government supported the actions of other countries' sanctions.
Greens senator Janet Rice lamented slow progress on a new sanctions regime, noting human rights atrocities against Uighur Muslims in China had been going on for years.
Senator Payne pointed to her committee referral.
"It is exactly why I've considered that comprehensive report and exactly why I've written to the prime minister with my views on that matter," she said.
"The government will progress that."
DFAT's chief legal officer Simon Newnham said adding people to the existing framework could take around six months, while Senator Payne said Magnitsky laws would allow for quick listing.
Senator Payne agreed with Liberal senator David Fawcett, who chaired the committee that recommended the laws.
"Particularly within Myanmar at the moment as well as other parts of the world we do need to have some levels that we can use to do more than issue statements," Senator Fawcett said.
The minister later said the human rights abuses in Xinjiang were among the world's most egregious.
Australian Associated Press
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