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Science & Technology Australia welcomes Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles’ pledge today that AUKUS-led changes to Australia’s defence trade controls regime are not intended to prevent foreign nationals, students and researchers from working in and collaborating with Australian institutions.

But the peak body for Australia’s science and technology sectors is pleased the Parliament has referred the legislation to a committee inquiry to ensure it does not restrict crucial research collaborations.

In his second reading speech on the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2023, Mr Marles said:

“These reforms are not intended to prevent foreign nationals from working with Australia on DSGL goods or technologies. They are not intended to prevent foreign students or academics from engaging with Australian academic institutions. Indeed, much of the existing collaboration and trade between Australia and international partners will be unaffected by these changes.” 

In its submission on the legislation, Science & Technology Australia urged legislators to adopt a strong definition of discovery research among the exemptions.

STA wants to ensure vital discovery research and global science collaborations continue alongside the creation of a permit-free ‘fast track lane’ for research collaborations with AUKUS partner nations.

It also wants Australia to continue to attract and retain the world’s best STEM talent.

“We take a very measured approach on this legislation,” said Science & Technology Australia’s President Professor Sharath Sriram.

“We understand the intent to create a permit-free ‘fast track lane’ for Australian researchers to collaborate with our AUKUS partners in the United States and United Kingdom,” he said.

“But we also want to ensure the definitions and protections enable Australia to continue to collaborate on research discoveries with other important global partners beyond AUKUS – and to continue to attract the best and brightest research talent from all over the world to strengthen our research system.”

About Science & Technology Australia 
Science & Technology Australia is the nation’s peak body representing more than 115,000 scientists and technologists. We’re the leading policy voice on science and technology. Our flagship programs include Science Meets ParliamentSuperstars of STEM, and STA STEM Ambassadors.


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