Joint submission to the inquiry into the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2023

 ATSE and the AAS strongly urge that the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2023 not be progressed until there has been genuine debate and discussion of its profound implications, and: 

  • without clarifying the fundamental research exemption; 
  • without resolving how the Bill’s unintended consequences will be mitigated and monitored. 

 The Academies make the following recommendations to the inquiry: 

Recommendation 1: Clearly articulate a fundamental research exemption in the Bill, with clear definitions created in collaboration with the research and industry sectors. 

Recommendation 2: Implement measures to mitigate unintended consequences on research and development, such as researchers avoiding certain collaborations or scientific communications due to bureaucratic burden or uncertainty (self-censorship). 

Recommendation 3: Grandfather arrangements for research in progress. 

Recommendation 4: The first review, 2 years after changes to the Act, should focus on unintended consequences on the research sector. 

Recommendation 5: Implement measures to improve awareness, understanding, implementation, and compliance with the new legislative environment. This includes educational resources, training and easy-to-use decision guides. 

Recommendation 6: Provide adequate resourcing to cover the costs of establishing secure research environments in Australian universities and other research organisations. 

Recommendation 7: Clarify the treatment of international students working on Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) technologies. 

Recommendation 8: Implement measures to avoid adverse impacts on Australia’s international research workforce. 2 

Recommendation 9: Expand Australia’s involvement in low-risk international scientific collaboration programs, such as through association with Horizon Europe.