Defence export controls

If you transfer certain items, technologies or information outside Australia you may have obligations under the Defence Trade Control Act.  This information is particularly relevant if  you have research collaborators who are outside Australia.

Since April 2016, supplying, brokering or publishing items, technologies and information outside of Australia that are considered by government as ‘controlled’ may require a permit. Exporting ‘controlled’ technologies and information may also require a permit.

It is important to become familiar with Australia's defence related legislation and the types of  technology and items that require a permit.  Failure to comply with the these Acts is considered a criminal offence. Does this apply to you?

For further advice and assistance contact:

Senior Biosafety Advisor T: 03) 9479-3358

Manager, Ethics and Integrity T: 03) 9479-5583

or send an email to: researchintegrity@latrobe.edu.au

What legislation applies to defence export controls?

Primarily, these two acts apply

The Customs Act (1901) controls the tangible exporting of items identified as defence and dual-use goods and technologies.

The Defence Trade Control Act 2012 (DTCA) and recent Amendment Bill (2015) regulates items identified as defence and dual-use goods, software and technologies when they are supplied, brokered or published.

What technologies and items are controlled?

The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) is a compilation of military technologies and commercial goods and technologies that are now regulated due to their ability to contribute to the development of military weaponry. The DSGL has two parts:

  • Part 1 lists military items
  • Part 2 lists 'dual-use' items that may be used for commercial purposes but may also be used in military systems or contribute to the development of weaponry.

The DSGL includes different types of dual use goods and technologies that might be an important part of research at La Trobe. If your research is in any of the following areas listed below (or involves military goods or technologies) please read this page in the context of your work:

  • Materials, chemicals, micro-organisms and toxins
  • Materials processing
  • Electronics
  • Computers
  • Telecommunications and information security
  • Sensors and lasers
  • Navigation and avionics
  • Marine
  • Aerospace and propulsion
  • Nuclear materials.

The DSGL has a further break down of these lists, with specific goods and technologies. If you are conducting research involving an item or technology listed in the DSGL and you are planning activities that meet the criteria of exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing then you are advised to review the information developed by Defence Export Controls (DEC) to assist you in establishing whether your activities might be controlled and require a permit.

A permit is required when exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing DSGL items, unless there is an exemption. DEC has advised that once an application has been submitted, it will require a minimum of 10 working days to issue a permit.

What types of activities are controlled?

  • Exporting - sending DSGL technology or information to a source outside Australia in physical form, such as material items, hard copyfiles, on a CD, USB or laptop.
  • Supplying – sending DSGL technology or information by 'intangible' means, via email, fax or by providing a password to access electronically stored information about restricted technology from within Australia to someone outside Australia.
  • Brokering – acting as an agent or intermediary to arrange the transfer of DSGL technology between two places located outside of Australia.
  • Publishing –placing information about items on the Munitions list (Part 1) of the DSGL in the public domain, or to a sector of the public, by print distribution, electronic publishing methods or some other form of dissemination, is controlled. The restrictions apply to any person living in Australia or an Australian citizen, resident or organisation located outside of Australia. The publication of information relating to technologies and items in the Dual-Use List (Part 2) of the DSGL is not restricted and no permit is required. (see Exemption for Publication section below).

Remember that these activities may require a permit if they involve items listed on the DSGL.

Exemptions: public domain and basic scientific research

Controls on 'intangible' transfers (by email, fax or other types of electronic transfers) do not apply to information already 'in the public domain' or to 'basic scientific research'. These phrases are defined in the Definition of Terms section for the DSGL as:

  • In the public domain: a technology or software which has been made available without restrictions on its further dissemination. Note - copyright restrictions do not remove technology or software from being 'in the public domain'.
  • Basic scientific research: any experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts, not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective.

Exemption for publication

You do not need a permit to publish dual‐use DSGL technology. However, the Minister for Defence may issue a notice prohibiting a person from publishing dual‐use DSGL technology if the publication would prejudice Australia's security or international obligations. The Minister for Defence would consult with the Minister responsible for research when considering whether to prohibit a publication. It is an offence for any person to knowingly contravene such a notice.

Difference between Supply and Publication under the Act

  • If information on a DSGL technology is made available by placing it 'in the public domain', even if it can only be accessed by a payment, it will be a publication. This includes websites available to the public and journals which permit anyone to subscribe. It also includes brochures, blogs, websites, podcasts or databases that are not controlled.
  • If access to information on a DSGL technology is controlled or restricted to particular users or groups then it has not been placed 'in the public domain' and it will be a 'supply'. This includes closed conference websites where only members from a select organisation(s) or group(s) can access the conference papers.

New regulations made easy

Export (tangible) - laptop, USB, disk

Military technology

Permit required

Export (tangible) -laptop, USB, disk

Controlled dual-use technology

Permit required

Supply (intangible) – email, fax, video conference

Military technology

Permit required

Supply (intangible) – email, fax, video conference

Controlled dual-use technology

Permit required

Publish

Military technology

Approval by Minister of Defence

Publish

Controlled dual-use technology

No permit required unless Minister of Defence determines otherwise

Broker

Military technology

Permit required

Broker

Controlled dual-use technology

No permit required unless Minister of Defence determines otherwise

DSGL online self-assessment tool

Defence Export Controls (DEC) has developed an online DSGL self-assessment tool to assist you to establish whether or not you will require a permit to export, supply, publish or broker controlled goods, software or technology. The tool has two parts: an Activity Questionnaire and the DSGL Search function, both of which are accessible here. Note that all applications for permits must be submitted via the Research Office. More information on how to apply for a permit will be posted soon. La Trobe Research Office staff are available to assist you with self-assessments. Please contact the Manager, Ethics and Integrity at researchintegrity@latrobe.edu.au.

Training, support and enquiries

In addition to the online self-assessment tool mentioned above, the DEC provides online Defence Export Controls Training.

Ethics and Integrity staff can assist researchers with export controls compliance and permit applications and are available to offer presentations on export controls and permit processes for your department or research group upon request.

Researchers affiliated with La Trobe should NOT apply for permits on their own. The DEC has requested that universities submit all permit requests via an institutional 'client' registration number.

If you have any questions or require assistance contact:

Senior Biosafety Advisor T: 03) 9479-3358

Manager, Ethics and Integrity T:03) 9479-5583

or send an email to: researchintegrity@latrobe.edu.au

Feedback and Complaints

Options for providing general feedback on the DEC requirements at La Trobe or making a complaint about a research project or researcher in relation to DEC requirements at La Trobe University include:

Please ensure you indicate if you would like someone to contact you regarding your complaint or feedback.

Defence export controls vs sanctions

A different but overlapping area of Commonwealth regulation is sanctions. Sanctions are measures imposed in situations of international concern, including the repression of human rights, the proliferation of weaponry or existing armed conflict. Sanctions do not involve the use of armed force but impose restrictions on:

  • activities that relate to particular countries
  • goods and services
  • persons and entities

Australian sanction laws implement the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions regimes and the Australian Autonomous Sanctions regimes. Sanctions may be relevant to:

  • presentations at conferences in sanctioned countries
  • research collaborations with citizens/entities from sanctioned countries in prohibited areas
  • the provision of technical advice, assistance or training in sanctioned goods or technologies
  • the supervision of research students in areas of study that risk breaching sanctions
More information on sanctions is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs sanctions webpage and La Trobe International.