Export controls: Defence and dual use items

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Export controls: Defence and dual use items

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Businesses and other entities should consider carefully whether any of the goods, software or technologies they send or take out of Australia may be subject to the export control rules.

Australia controls the export of defence and strategic goods, software and technologies to ensure that such exports are in keeping with Australia’s national interests and international obligations.

This extends to inherently lethal non-military goods (e.g. commercial explosives) and to tangible and intangible items developed to meet legitimate commercial needs, but which could be used as military components or to develop or produce military systems or weapons of mass destruction (‘dual use’ items).

Businesses and other entities should consider carefully whether any of the goods, software or technologies they send or take out of Australia may be subject to the export control rules.

Defence and Strategic Goods List

As a signatory to several international counter-proliferation and export control regimes, Australia controls trade in items on the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL).

Goods, software and technology included on the DSGL cannot be exported, supplied, published or brokered from Australia unless a permit has been obtained, or a legislative exemption applies to the relevant activity.

The DSGL covers
  • Defence and related goods, software and technologies that are designed or adapted for use by the armed forces, and non-military goods that are inherently lethal
  • Dual-use goods, software and technologies. The ten categories of controlled dual use items in the DSGL are:

    • Nuclear Material
    • Materials, Chemicals, Micro-organisms and Toxins
    • Materials Processing
    • Electronics
    • Computers
    • Telecommunications and Information Security
    • Sensors and Lasers
    • Navigation and Avionics
    • Marine 
    • Aerospace and Propulsion.
Who is affected?

Apart from Australian businesses or individuals exporting, supplying, brokering the supply, or publishing DSGL goods, software or technology to someone outside of Australia, academic institutions could also be affected by these export control measures.

This could occur, for example, in instances where an institution engages with an overseas counterpart institution or business relating to items listed in the DSGL (e.g. research partnerships, consulting, provision of training). The intangible transfer of DSGL technology might also occur through other channels, such as presentations at overseas conferences, or through post-graduate courses taught at an overseas campus of an institution.

Permits and penalties

Entities should take particular care to determine whether their activities with defence or dual-use goods, software or technologies may be subject to export controls, including a requirement to obtain a permit or licence.

Offences in relation to controlled defence and strategic goods, software and technologies can attract substantial penalties – in some cases, 10 years’ imprisonment or 2,500 penalty units (i.e. currently AU 525,000), or both.

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