Defence Trade Controls Exclusion Clause will protect academic freedom. “Must pass House of Reps,” NTEU says
The NTEU has thanked members of the Government and the Opposition for agreeing to important amendments on the Defence Trade Controls Bill concluding an extended Senate sitting late yesterday evening, but warned about the implications of not removing the new publications offence.
“There is no doubt that the amendments that passed the Senate last night will deliver greater assurance to researchers and other staff involved in Australian research, in terms of their capacity to confidently undertake scientific research without the threat of criminal sanction,” said NTEU National President Jeannie Rea.
“The introduction of an exclusion clause and the improved transition arrangements are good amendments and the NTEU has considered our interest in this as an important part of our role as an advocate for the sector. On this point, we would like to thank the Senators who have worked to make this possible, particularly Senators Johnston and Rhiannon who spoke strongly in defence of our concerns.”
Rea observed that it might be curious to some that the various amendments have come from all sides of politics.
“We are not surprised by this chain of events. We understand that our Federal parliamentarians have looked beyond partisanship to deliver in the best interests of Australian tertiary education, which as the White Paper has recently highlighted, will bear a significant burden for the future prosperity of this nation,” she said
“Considering that the Bill will now be returned to the House of Representatives, we urge Members of Parliament to ensure that the transition arrangements and exclusion clause is delivered in the final legislation.”
Rea also cautioned about the new ‘publications’ offence that was introduced only a few weeks ago and appears likely to be part of the final legislation.
“There is a major outstanding concern for the NTEU. In the rush to introduce this Bill, there is a publications clause that may result in adverse and unanticipated consequences for freedom of intellectual inquiry,” she said.
“We agree with Senator Ludlam who warned last night that retention of the clause ‘effectively means that the Defence Minister, even if it is not his intention, can censor research itself’. We would draw attention to members of the House of Representatives to bear in mind this danger to publicly-funded Australian research.”
Media enquiries: Carmel Shute, NTEU Media Officer: 0412 569 356 firstname.lastname@example.org
Media comment: Jeannie Rea, NTEU National President: 0434 609 531 email@example.com