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Australia moves to lock down illegal transfer of defence information, services

An Australian Army M1A1 Abrams Tank from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment before a live fire serial during Exercise Brolga Walk at Townsville Field Training Area, Queensland. Photo: TPR Dana Millington

The Australian federal government has moved to lock down transfer of sensitive defence information to foreign militaries, as part of new national security legislation.

The Australian federal government has moved to lock down transfer of sensitive defence information to foreign militaries, as part of new national security legislation.

Legislation passed in the Australian Parliament on 27 March which will strengthen Australia’s national security and support local industry by unlocking defence trade, innovation, and collaboration with our AUKUS partners.

The Defence Trade Controls Amendment Act 2024 (DTC Act) and Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets Act 2024 (SAMS Act) are expected to remove red tape in defence trade, enhance export control, and protect military technology, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles.

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“The Albanese government has passed two crucial pieces of legislation which will safeguard our national secrets, enhance cooperation with our international partners, and protect our national security,” he said.

“The Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets Act represents a proactive approach to countering national security threats and protecting military secrets that are central to Australia’s national security and the security of our allies.

“The importance of protecting our nation’s secrets and sensitive information cannot be overstated. It is central to preserving Australia’s national security and to keeping Australians safe.

“The Defence Trade Controls Amendment Act provides defence industry, science and research sectors with greater opportunities for collaboration and trade with our AUKUS partners without the burdensome red tape.

“This will benefit defence industry in Australia, unlocking $5 billion – more than half of our annual exports – to our AUKUS partners.”

Marles said the new legislation will fast-track the delivery of high-end capabilities to the Australian Defence Force by streamlining trade and collaboration with our AUKUS partners and support the establishment of a licence-free environment for Australian industry, higher education, and research sectors.

It will unlock investment and collaboration opportunities for Australian defence industry under the AUKUS framework, with the national exemption for export permits to the US and the UK to benefit an estimated $5 billion in annual defence exports, he said.

The SAMS Act is expected to protect military knowledge, skills, and experience, as well as regulating the military training that Australians may provide to foreign countries.

Under the new legislation, a person could receive imprisonment for 10 years (or 2,500 penalty units or both) for supply of Defence and Strategic Goods List technology in Australia to a foreign person.

In addition, the new legislation outlines that a person could receive imprisonment for 10 years (or 2,500 penalty units or both) for providing Defence and Strategic Goods List services to another person (foreign, outside Australia, without permit etc).

Robert Dougherty

Robert Dougherty

Robert is a senior journalist who has previously worked for Seven West Media in Western Australia, as well as Fairfax Media and Australian Community Media in New South Wales. He has produced national headlines, photography and videography of emergency services, business, community, defence and government news across Australia. Robert graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in Public Relations and Journalism at Curtin University, attended student exchange program with Fudan University and holds Tier 1 General Advice certification for Kaplan Professional. Reach out via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via LinkedIn.
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