Executive Summary It is in Australia’s national interest to maintain a strong national defence. It is equally in the national interest to ensure that Australia fosters a thriving, internationally connected and innovative research sector. It is research and development that gives Australia its best chance of achieving future economic and social prosperity, as well as providing knowledge and technology to support its national security. Balancing the twin national aims – security and knowledge flow – serves all our interests. Getting the balance wrong serves no-one.
In its submission, the Department of Defence has suggested that the Defence Export Controls scheme be altered to give the Department the ability to control the supply of any technology at any time, as well as sweeping compliance and enforcement powers.
Universities Australia is deeply concerned about the impact of the Department of Defence proposals would have, if enacted. The proposals do not provide for an appropriate balance between security interests and a thriving research and development capability. If adopted, they could:
- damage Australia’s competitive advantages by threatening international collaborations across a wide range of research fields, as well as reducing the ability of Australia to compete for talented local and international researchers; • threaten investment in Australian research and development, making it more difficult to build new industries (including a defence industry), or achieve the ambitions of government initiatives such as the Global innovation Strategy; and
- undermine the effectiveness of the Defence Export Controls regime by reducing the trust and cooperation between Defence and the research sector that is essential to the success of the scheme. We urge the Review to ensure that Australia’s national interests are enhanced through maintaining a cooperative and constructive approach to the regulation of sensitive technology.