Proposed changes to Defence Bill strike a better balance

March 19, 2024

The amendments to the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill strike a better balance between protecting Australia’s national security and ensuring domestic and international scientific collaboration can continue to serve our national interest, says President of the Australian Academy of Science Professor Chennupati Jagadish. 

“I am pleased the Academy’s sustained advocacy in this area has been heard,” Professor Jagadish said. 

“The proposed definition of fundamental research in the draft Bill is appropriate and compatible with the US system and includes basic and applied research. This follows months of advocacy by the Academy. 

“Putting the fundamental research exemption in legislation will provide scientists with more confidence that the definition can’t be changed on a whim, and that they won’t be at risk of breaking the law by undertaking discovery research, simply speaking at a conference, teaching a PhD student, or collaborating with a colleague.”  

The Academy welcomed the amendments to grandfather current research for a year and to review the legislation after three years.  

“We look forward to continuing work with the Department of Defence to ensure that researchers understand how the new legislation works, to reduce compliance burden, and to monitor unintended consequences for Australia’s researchers,” Professor Jagadish said. 

“Australia’s researchers must be adequately supported to understand their obligations once this new legislation is passed, to enable compliance, and to access sufficient resources to establish secure research environments when required.”  

© 2024 Australian Academy of Science