Academy welcomes pragmatic approach to Defence Trade Controls

February 14, 2019
Australia’s international trade and security obligations should be balanced with the need for our researcher workforce to engage collaboratively with partners around the world.

The Australian Academy of Science has welcomed the findings of an independent review of the Defence Trade Controls Act.

Academy President Professor John Shine AC said that the review by Dr Vivienne Thom AM confirmed the original intent of the Bill to balance Australia’s international trade and security obligations with the need for our researcher workforce to engage collaboratively with partners around the world.

“The Academy of Science was very concerned at proposals put forward by defence officials in 2015 to introduce sweeping new powers to restrict the international exchange of knowledge and ideas,” said Professor Shine.

“Further restrictions would effectively have limited Australian researchers’ ability to engage in international research collaboration and to benefit as a nation from the many international research collaborations and expertise on which a substantial proportion of our economy relies.

“We’re very pleased that these concerns have been heard and believe that the recommendations in the review strike the right balance in Australia’s national interests.

“We trust that the Australian Government will heed the recommendations of the review to continue strengthening and streamlining the administration of this legislation.

Background

The Defence Trade Controls Act was introduced in 2012 to regulate the international supply or exchange of certain technologies with potential military applications.

The Act was amended in 2015 following an extensive consultation process led by then Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb AC FAA FTSE, with a provision for a review of operation after two years. 

© 2019 Australian Academy of Science

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