Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Joint Media Release – Legislation a boost to Australia’s Defence Industry

Australia’s Defence Industry will be better placed to trade with the United States in Defence goods, services and technology with the passage through Parliament today of the Defence Trade Controls Bill.

The Bill implements the Australia-US Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty and strengthens Australia’s export controls to bring them into line with international best practice.

The Treaty was signed in 2007. In September 2010, the US Senate recommended that the Treaty be ratified.

The Treaty will improve the structure for two-way trade between Australia and the US in Defence goods, services and technology without the need for individual export permits.  This will be achieved by establishing an Approved Community of Government facilities and private companies in both countries.

The Treaty will mean: reduced delivery time for new Defence projects; improved sustainment by permitting transfers within the Approved Community without further US approvals; improved business opportunities by permitting Australian and US companies to share technical data without permit, and greater opportunities for Australian companies to participate in US contracts.

Eliminating identified gaps in Australia’s export control system will align Australia with the accepted best practice of the export control regimes that Australia belongs to, and contribute to international efforts to prevent proliferation.

The strengthened export controls relate to those Defence and strategic goods that already require a Defence permit if exported from Australia in physical form due to the risk they pose to international security and weapons proliferation.  

The legislation introduces a permit system for the electronic supply (such as by email or fax) of technology to a person overseas that would enable them to develop, produce or use these goods. This includes technology that could be used to make Weapons of Mass Destruction such as chemical, biological, nuclear and other weapons. Brokering the supply of these goods and technology will also require a permit.

A draft Bill was released for public consultation in July 2011.  The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 2 November and passed the House on 21 November 2011.

In August this year, the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee asked Defence to enter into further consultations with the academic and research sectors to consider concerns raised by them.  The Government appointed Dr Alex Zelinsky, the Chief Defence Scientist, and Mr Ken Peacock to lead this further consultation.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, conducted an additional Roundtable process that included University, research and Government agency representatives.  The Roundtable achieved broad support for a way forward, which was welcomed by the Government. 

The legislation reflects in full the outcomes of the Chief Scientist’s Roundtable, including:

  • a two year transition period. 
  • the appointment of a Steering Group to advise Government on the implementation of legislation.  Chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist, it will include representatives from industry, universities and the research sector.
  • The Steering Group will oversee a Pilot Program which will monitor the effects of strengthened export controls on industry and the academic and research sectors during the Bill’s transition period.
  • The Steering Group will provide six-monthly reports to the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research.  The Steering Group will be able to make recommendations on whether Australia’s export control arrangements are not more restrictive than US regulations in relation to University activities.
  • The Bill will no longer include domestic controls.  This means that permits will not be required to supply controlled technology to foreign persons in Australia. 

The legislation is good for Defence industry, strengthens Australia’s export controls for sensitive defence technology and ensures Australia’s innovative University and research sector retains its competitive edge.


Media contacts:

Mr Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton 0467 784 528

Mr Clare’s Office: Annie Williams 0428 040 522


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