Australia to Enhance AUKUS Technology Sharing and Limit International Access

By Kirsty Needham

A new draft of Australian legislation reveals plans to tighten restrictions on the sharing of defense technology with foreign entities by industries and universities, while exempting AUKUS partners Britain and the United States from these controls.

The legislation aims to mirror U.S. export controls on defense technology, a crucial step in the AUKUS initiative to construct a new class of nuclear-powered submarines in Australia and Britain.

Delays in the U.S. Congress passing legislation for the sale of Virginia-class submarines to Australia and enabling greater sharing of defense technology for AUKUS have been partially attributed to concerns from the U.S. State Department about Australia’s capacity to safeguard defense secrets.

The proposed law introduces three criminal offenses, imposes further restrictions on sharing defense technology with foreign individuals inside and outside Australia, and allows for license-free sharing among AUKUS partners.

“This legislation is pivotal in establishing a seamless industrial base with our AUKUS partners,” stated Defence Minister Richard Marles on Tuesday.

Marles also highlighted the need for Australia to streamline its defense industry by eliminating “burdensome red tape” in collaboration with Britain and the U.S.

Australian scientists have expressed concern about the legislation’s potential impact on scientific collaboration with other countries, particularly China.

“It expands Australia’s collaboration with the U.S. and the UK, but it also raises barriers,” said Professor Chennupati Jagadish, president of the Australian Academy of Science.

Jagadish emphasized that the new rules could necessitate closed research facilities, and highlighted the reliance of Australian universities on international collaboration, with a significant portion of research students coming from overseas, notably China.

“The global science system is more vulnerable than ever due to decisions made by states in response to security challenges,” Jagadish stated at a conference in Canberra.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


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