16 August, 2012Universities Australia welcomes the recommendation by the Senate Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade Legislation Committee that further consultation with universities and the research community be undertaken by the Department of Defence, in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues arising from a Bill to give effect to an Australia-US defence trade treaty.
In its preliminary report on the Defence Trade Controls Bill released today, the Committee advised that, in its view, it was premature to proceed with the Bill while the resolution of important matters remains outstanding.
The Bill gives effect to a Treaty signed in 2007 by former Prime Minister John Howard and former United States President George Bush on defence trade co-operation and introduces controls on the supply of defence technology and services.
"The committee is to be congratulated for taking on board the concerns raised by universities about the potential for the proposed bill to place restrictions on international collaboration on research and innovation in Australia, and an unacceptable compliance burden on Australian universities," said Belinda Robinson, the Chief Executive of Universities Australia, the peak body representing universities.
"At a time when research and innovation is more critical than ever for boosting Australia's international competitiveness and national productivity, it is important that researchers be able to collaborate without unintended impediments.
"Since the start of this year, Universities Australia has worked hard to alert the Senate committee, the Department of Defence and the broader research community about the implications of the Bill for Australia's university and research sector.
"We are also pleased that the Committee has accepted Universities Australia's suggestion that the Chief Scientist convene a roundtable of key stakeholders to address and attempt to resolve the concerns raised.
"Universities Australia thanked the Committee and all those who have played a major role in assisting the Committee reach its conclusions," said Ms Robinson.