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Defence bill could hamper research, say uni staff

A bill designed to stop the transfer of sensitive materials and information would also impede crucial academic research, staff from the University of Sydney have warned.

Both the University of Sydney and Universities Australia have warned Parliament that the Defence Trade Controls Bill 2011, which proscribes thousands of materials on the Defence and Strategic Goods List–including components that could be used in weapons–could hamper important research, The Conversation reported on 22 March.

Previously the list has controlled the export of proscribed goods. But the bill seeks to extend controls to include “intangible transfers”, such as measurements of a good’s properties.

Scientists could apply for permits to use otherwise banned materials but at a high cost to university departments both in time and administrative resources, according to academic critics.