Unis need to know: there’s a new list of prescribed technologies

Researchers who think their work isn’t on the government’s national security prescribed technologies list might want to wonder which one

ASIO chief Mike Burgess gave evidence at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee’s additional estimates the other day, including responding to questions from Kim Carr (Labor-Victoria).

Senator Carr asked about Australian Research Council approved grants vetoed by former Education Minister Dan Tehan, which Mr Burgess answered without adding anything especially interesting.

And when Senator Carr asked about whether research proposals could have been covered by prescribed technologies on the annually updated list for the Defence Trade Control Act, Mr Burgess replied, it wasn’t his focus.

But when asked by Senator Carr, he did acknowledge another list of prescribed technologies is being worked on, by the departments of Home Affairs and Prime Minister and Cabinet, adding that he had talked about it to other committees. What’s the relationship between the DTCA list and the new one, Senator Carr asked? Mr Bugess responded, offering “his perspective” on “the latter list.”

“It is incredibly important in my mind to explain to universities what technologies, what research subjects would be sensitive to the national interest beyond the defence export controls so that everyone would have certainty in terms of areas that are potentially no-go, areas that are where conversations can be had. Then you can assume everything else is free to go. I have been suggesting that is very useful and would be something that we should pursue and that is being taken up by other departments,” Mr Burgess said.

So, when, Senator Carr asked, will researchers get to see this list of prescribed technologies, “over and above that contained in the current legal framework?”

That was not a matter for ASIO Mr Burgess replied.

And has he “discussed this list with the universities,” Senator Carr asked. “I haven’t not directly,” Mr Burgess responded.