Australia Passes it’s AUKUS Security Clearance

AUKUS partners are making once-in-a-generation exemptions to their respective defence goods, technology, and research trade control regimes. The respective regimes seek to ensure that tangible and intangible military goods and technology do not fall into the hands of individuals, entities, or foreign nations with interests prejudicial to those of their own.

Applications between AUKUS partners for the sharing of military goods and technology are rarely refused. However, it has been reported that approval processes can take months, and even at times up to a year. Such wait times hinder the technology and research sharing ambitions of the AUKUS partnership. As such, steps have been taken by each AUKUS partner to create national export control regulations that are comparable to each other. The aim is to cut red tape and remove the need for AUKUS partners to obtain permits for defence technology sharing in most situations.

On 27 March 2024, both Houses of the Australian Parliament passed the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Act 2024 (Cth). The changes create new offences regarding the ‘supply’ and provision of ‘services’ of Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) technology and research. The addition of these offences was to close gaps in and to satisfy the security expectations of the U.S. for Australia’s control regime. Additionally, the amendments explicitly give Australia’s permission to create a permit-free environment for the supply of items on the DSGL from Australia to the UK and the US.

Whilst this legislation allows the permit-free environment, released on Wednesday was a concrete plan of the actual rules and regulations for a permit-free environment. Effectively, the regulations put the Act into effect. AUKUS partners are now undertaking consultations with those who will use and benefit from these exemptions. Stakeholders across industry, higher education and research sectors, as well as those from the UK and the US, are invited to provide feedback on the draft arrangements. The Australian Department of Defence has established two working groups to provide advice in relation to the implementation of the Act, this includes an Industry and Investment Working Group.

Thus far, the regulations remove permit requirements for around 70% of defence exports. Items that still require a permit are goods covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) (e.g. Tomahawk cruise missiles). On 20 April 2024, the US Department of State said it now “fully expects” to finalise new trade exemptions with Australia and the UK over the next 120 days.

11 May 2024 | Authored by Connor Andreatidis, Consultant, Precision Public Affairs

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