Controlled Goods and Technology

Defence Trade Controls Act

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 (DTCA) (opens in a new window) regulates the intangible supply, publication and brokering of goods and technology listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) and strengthens existing regulations on tangible exports under the Customs Act 1901 (opens in a new window)

The purpose of the DTCA is to protect the national interest by preventing sensitive goods and technologies from falling into the wrong hands via intangible export methods.

If you transfer certain items, technologies or information outside Australia you may have obligations under the DTCA. 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. Permits are administered by the Defence Export Controls Office (DEC) (opens in a new window) at the Department of Defence.

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 these Acts is considered a criminal offence.

Defence and Strategic Goods List

The Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL) (opens in a new window) is the list that specifies the goods, software or technology that is regulated when exported, supplied, brokered or published. A permit is required when exporting, supplying, brokering or publishing DSGL items except where an exemption applies. 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 the DEC to assist you in establishing whether your activities might be controlled and require a permit.

The DSGL is a compilation of military and commercial goods and technologies that Australia regulates. The goods, software and technologies on the list are agreed in conjunction with members of various international non-proliferation and export control regimes. These items either have a military use or can be used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

The DSGL also contains Australia-specific controls relating to firearms and explosives.

DEC has developed an Online DSGL Tool (opens in a new window) which is intended to simplify the identification of whether goods, software or technology are listed. The search feature of this tool enables users to conduct text-based searches of the DSGL and returns search results which match against specific control items.

The control item pages have been developed to display not only the relevant control text, but also any other controls that may apply, such as software and technology controls that apply to a particular good. The page will also display the definitions that are relevant to the control item and any notes or other reference material that are applicable.

These results can be printed out from the Online DSGL Tool (opens in a new window)

The DSGL is split into two parts:

Part 1 lists munitions (or military) items; and

Part 2 lists dual-use items; that is, items that may be used for commercial purposes but may be used in military systems or for weapon of mass destruction purposes. The Dual-use list is further split into the following categories:

  • Category 0 – Nuclear Materials
  • Category 1 – Materials, Chemical, Micro-organisms and Toxins
  • Category 2 – Materials Processing
  • Category 3 – Electronics
  • Category 4 – Computers
  • Category 5 – Telecommunications and Information Security
  • Category 6 – Sensors and Lasers
  • Category 7 – Navigation and Avionics
  • Category 8 – Marine
  • Category 9 – Aerospace and Propulsion

What types of activities are controlled?

Activities regulated under the DTCA, also known as 'controlled activities', fall into the following categories:

  • Intangible supply: the provision of controlled goods or technology by 'intangible' means via methods such as email, fax or by providing a password to access electronically stored information about restricted technology from within Australia to someone outside Australia. FAQs on intangible supply of DSGL technology (opens in a new window) provide further information.
  • Brokering: when a person or organisation in Australia acts as an agent or intermediary to arrange the transfer of controlled goods or technology between two places outside of Australia. FAQs on the brokering of DSGL technology (opens in a new window) provide further information.
  • 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. Note: the publication of information relating to technologies and items on the Dual-use list (Part 2) of the DSGL is not restricted and no permit is required (see 'Exemption for publication' below). FAQs on the publication of DSGL technology (opens in a new window) provide further information.

DEC provides an Activity Questionnaire (opens in a new window) to help you determine whether your research falls under any of the above controlled activities.

In specific cases, the Minister of Defence may issue a notice to prohibit a dual-use publication or brokering activity if there is reasonable belief that it would prejudice Australia's security or international obligations.

Exemptions under the Defence Trade Controls Act

The DTCA does not apply to information that has been placed in the 'public domain' or to 'basic scientific research'. These terms are defined in the DSGL as follows:

  • Public domain: a technology or software which has been made available without restrictions on its further dissemination (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.

Facilitating compliance

Researchers are encouraged to use the information provided above and the Online DSGL Tool (opens in a new window) provided by DEC to assess whether their technology is included in the DSGL, and what controls their research activities are likely to require. On completion of the online assessment tool, a report is generated stating whether the activity is controlled and whether a permit is required. All the answers given during the assessment process are also recorded. These reports should be kept as a record of compliance and due diligence.

Training, support and enquiries

In addition to the online assessment tool, the DEC provides a range of online training modules and resources (opens in a new window)

Research Services is the central contact point for advice, assistance and permit applications. If you need to apply for a permit, or are unsure, please send an email to outlining your research. Please also include a copy of the assessment report generated by the online assessment tool. The DEC has requested that universities submit all permit requests at an institutional level and that researchers do not apply for permits on an individual basis.

The University has appointed an Export Controls Compliance Officer who is responsible for implementing and managing relevant arrangements and obligations under the Defence Trade Controls Act. Contact details are as follows:

Matthew Hunter - International Relations Development Manager
02 9852 5388 | 0423 180 908

Dr Shantala Mohan - Director, Research Impact and Integrity 
02 4736 0581 | 0414 309 758