25 March 2024

Government to implement seven of 10 recommendations of Defence Trade Controls Act review

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Under legislation, a review of the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 must be undertaken every five years. Photo: ADF.

The Federal Government says it will implement seven of the 10 recommendations of a review into the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012.

Legislation requires the review to be conducted every five years to ensure Australia’s export control regimen remains fit for purpose by balancing safeguards with what the government describes as a rapidly evolving strategic environment.

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 regulates the supply, publication and brokering of military and dual-use goods, software and technology as specified in the Defence and Strategic Goods List.

These goods include munitions or military items such as small and large-calibre weapons, ammunition, bombs and missiles, fire control systems, ground vehicles and components, chemical or biological toxic agents, radioactive materials, explosives and chemicals, as well as protective equipment such as helmets.

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Some dual-use items are also specified, including nuclear materials, electronics, computers, telecommunications and information security, sensors and lasers, navigation avionics, some marine technologies, and aerospace and propulsion technologies.

The most recent review was announced by Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles last August, and was undertaken by former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defence Peter Tesch and National Competition Council president Professor Graeme Samuel.

It received 61 written submissions and conducted six roundtable consultations across Australia with key stakeholders across government, industry, academia and peak bodies.

It examined the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 alongside existing policies and regulations surrounding the protection of sensitive and critical technology, and considered whether current safeguards for technology transfers complement these frameworks.

The review made 10 recommendations, which it says are aimed at improving Australia’s export control regimen, including streamlining processes, giving consideration to the penalty system and improving outreach and education about the framework.

In its response, the government agrees with seven of the 10 recommendations and agrees in-principle with the remaining three. It says it will work closely with relevant stakeholders, including industry and academia, to implement the review’s recommendations and will implement the key ones alongside the forthcoming reforms act.

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Mr Marles thanked Mr Tesch and Professor Samuel for their time, effort and extensive consultation in reviewing the act.

“The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring the Australian export control regime remains fit for purpose in a rapidly evolving strategic environment,” Mr Marles said.

“The review and its recommendations have been informed by extensive engagement with key stakeholders across government, academia and industry, and will help strengthen Australia’s export controls system.”

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