Bill Rowlings, CEO of Civil Liberties Australia on the Defence Trade Controls Act:
What Civil Liberties Australia has learned from 14 years lobbying MPs and making submissions to parliaments on legislation
1. MPs are not to be trusted. No matter what one, or even a few, MPs say, the ONLY way to get the changes you want is if they are written into black-letter law, that is, into new legislation.
- Nice words in an Explanatory Memorandum to a draft Bill are not binding, and are of no practical use – the Chief Judge (Robert French) has said so in a public speech as recently as November 2014;
- Flowery words and promises in parliamentary speeches are of no value;
- Words in a media release are even less valuable than that; promises or statements made by MPs in private are not even worth recording.
2. Politicians seem powerful, but they are weak on issues like DTCA, because they don’t really know what they are talking about. This particularly applies to Ministers, who are usually given blinkers rather than briefings.
MPs will change their minds if enough pressure is brought to bear. If 10% of the research and academic community rebelled against the DTCA law, that should be more than enough to make politicians see reason. The AAS, segments of CSIRO and a handful of uni would be enough to make MPs worried.
If each person opposed to this spent one hour a week for a month alerting their research/academic contacts in Australia and overseas, and asking them to write one small article or letter to the editor or letter to an MP each on the issue, the groundswell would be enormous. Given the various types of media outlets the various people would/could use, the impact would – of just one month’s activity – would go on for 6 months.
3. Defence – and virtually the entire federal public sector -– do not understand risk management. If they had to operate in the real world, where risk is inherent in every decision, they would go broke within a year.
The ultimate legislation needs to balance individual rights and research/academic rights with the nation’s rights. The key word is “balance”. The current legislation is outrageously slanted towards a Defence Department: overwhelmingly, completely.
Defence only understands total control, because that is how military command management operates: researchers operate in environments of uncertainty and risk at every step of the journey, from idea conception to product or service completion.
Defence in Australia has to learn that real-life outside the ‘total institution’ that is the military cannot be proscribed by law. Australia and Australians and not subject to Defence: it’s the other way around.
Bill Rowlings, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia. 8 April 2015
VoD's Background information on DTCA
What is the DTCA?
The DTCA is a law which regulates high-tech research and development in Australia.
The DTCA affects you, even if you have no prior relationship with the Department of Defence.
Josh Taylor: ‘[T]he creation of the "dual-use" category means that a wide array of technological development and research has been caught up by the law. Some examples of "dual-use" technology are computers, electronics, telecommunications, and information security.’ Penalties for non-compliance include 10 years jail, a $425K fine and forfeiture of your research.
- Civil Liberties Australia on the DTCA
- “New Defence Act Handcuffs Science”, Brendan Jones, Australasian Science, 2014-12. [Subscription Only]
- “Australia’s defence trade control act clamps down on researchers,” Mark Collinson, London, UK, Defence Report. 2015-01-05.
- “DTCA 2012 and DTCB 2015 set to damage Australia's capabilities in science and technology,” Kevin Korb, Reader of Monash University’s School of Information Technology, 2015-01-29.
- “Australia tries to ban crypto research – by ACCIDENT,” Richard Chirgwin, The Register, 2015-01-14.
- “Australia rushes to fix troubled Defence tech research law,” Josh Taylor, ZD Net, 2015-01-27.
- Attend the DTCA Public Forum to be held at the University of Melbourne on April 10, 2015: Sponsored by the IEEE, SSIT and University of Melbourne.
Industry's concerns have been ignored:
A very big problem with the DTCA is the lack of protection for commercial confidentiality.
The Department of Defence has a history of stealing intellectual property,
abusing inside information for commercial gain, and an ongoing corruption problem.
They also have their own business enterprises
(Defence actually bids for its own contracts!)
and business partners.
The DTCA *forces* companies to reveal their IP to Defence,
with no protection against it being abused.
The DTCA also imposes a considerable financial burden on businesses;
Even by Defence's own rubbery numbers, compliance will cost your business $152,188 just for the first year!
Want to share your thoughts on the DTCA? Contact us by email,
or make your own submission to the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee.
Recent news on the DTCA
Summary: The Department of Defence has proposed amendments to the DTCA, but these do not fix its underlying problems.
The Department of Defence appears to have been suppressing criticism of the DTCA, in the hope of pushing it through.
2015-04-07: Defence bullies universities into accepting DTCA.
2015-03-31: DTCA Steering Group defies Senate criticism
2015-03-19: Parliament passes amended DTCA, but only as a 12 month stop gap,
recognising that the Department of Defence's consultations have been woefully inadequate.
Senator Fawcett, Chair of Parliament's SCFADT Committee:
"One of the things the committee found was that the consultations undertaken by the Department of Defence in this case were inadequate, and that would be understating the extent of the consultations. As someone who served for over 23 years in Defence, I am ashamed to have to tell this chamber that the consultation was inadequate. This lack shows that many in Defence are put into roles—they might be working with an industry sector or an academic sector that they have never been a part of—and sometimes their concept of what will have an impact is not informed by their own life experience; and that is why consultation is so important. Consultation is important not only to transmit information but also to provide real opportunities to listen and understand what the practical impact of measures that the parliament legislates may have on industry or on academia."
This is the second time the Department of Defence bureaucrats have been chewed out.
There's a risk that in 12 months time, they'll try and slip it through again.
Accordingly, the April 10 University of Melbourne DTCA Forum is still on.
2015-03-12(15): Submission to The Senate Standing Committee On Foreign Affairs, Defence And Trade regarding ongoing problems with the DTCA that have not been fixed by the Amendment Bill :
Following the false and misleading public communique (see below), the Senate FADT Committee made an urgent call for submissions to see if stakeholders really were happy with the DTCA Amendments. Defence also released an explanatory memorandum which reveals that e.g. only two of the seven pilots reported costs, and even those numbers appear fabricated.
Submissions indicate that although the universities were consulted, they still have serious concerns and want the legislation delayed for another 6-12 months, and that industry was not consulted.
(You can read all of the FADT submissions here, though go straight to Page 2 for the new submissions. Those on Page 1 are over two years old, from before the bill was passed. Note: The DECO submissions have still not been released by Defence.)
The false and misleading public communiqué on the Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2015:
Incredibly, after receiving critical submissions regarding the DTCA amendments, the Department of Defence's SECSG steering group released a public communique claiming to have achieved "broad stakeholder support". This petition debunks that claim. (Although DECO had permission to publish at least some of the submissions, they did not, but instead reassure us that they praise the Department of Defence, etc.)
2015-01-30: Still Broken - The Defence Trade Controls Amendment Bill 2015:
Submission to DECO, warning them the proposed amendments to the DTCA do not fix its fundamental problems.
(For a list of other submissions, click here).
2014-11-11: US Exposure to Crime and Corruption within the Australian Department of Defence:
How the Australian Parliament's failure to deal with crime and corruption in Defence is has left the United States exposed to bribery, fraud, intellectual property theft,
unfair competition, endemic public sector crime, federal police corruption, and lax security – to top secret level.
2014-09-24: Petition for the Termination of Defence Minister David Johnston and Chief Scientist Ian Chubb
As Commonwealth Chief Scientist, Professor Chubb has tolerated crime, IP theft and plagiarism, yet has been entrusted to oversee the Defence Trade Controls Act.
As Defence Minister, David Johnston tolerates crime and corruption by his subordinates, and compounded the abuse of abused soldiers. This petition explains why both men should be sacked.
2014-09-10: Debunking Dreyfus on Free Speech and Freedom
This is a comprehensive treatment of barriers to free speech in Australia, covering whistleblower laws, defamation and the role of the mass media, with numerous examples and references.
2014-09: NTEU (Academics Union) FAQ on Defence Trade Controls Act: How the new laws will affect *you*.
2014-07-22(3): Royal Petition concerning Federal Government Corruption: 30 alleged cases of uninvestigated/whitewashed federal government corruption
To His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd):
"Because Your Excellency has not responded to my previous petition, and because I am concerned that public servants within the Office of the Governor-General
may be withholding correspondence from him, if I do not receive a personal response from Your Excellency by August 5, 2014, I shall assume those public servants
have improperly concealed these petitions and their contents from him."
2014-07-21: Royal Petition concerning Crime and Corruption within the Australian Public Service II
To His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd). (reissued)
2014-08-01: Australia: Home of the World’s Fattest Fat Cats:
Australia's public servants are paid more than private sector workers. Wages are higher in Canberra than anywhere else.
Senior public servants in Australia are paid 2-4 times as much as their UK and US counterparts, and Tony Abbott is paid more than Obama.
Australian politicians receive incredible entitlements, including huge pensions which kick in the day they leave (or are kicked out of) Parliament.
(The rest of us have to work until Age 70). Most Australians don't know that when the government brings in a surplus, instead of that money being banked for a rainy day,
it is deposited into the "Future Fund" which, despite the nice sounding name, is really the public servant's pension fund.
2014-07-23: The Defence Trade Controls Act is an Attack on the Rights and Freedoms of Australians:
Australian scientists and high-tech workers face 10 years imprisonment, a $425K fine and forfeiture of their work to the government.
Meanwhile, public servants are given incredible powers to enter universities and businesses and make copies of their trade secrets,
which they may then provide to the government's own business partners for their own use.
Parliamentary Defence Subcommittee Submission. (Sent to all members of Parliament)
2014-07-21: Debunking Abbott's claim that Canberra is "pretty clean", doesn't need a Federal ICAC
Abbott claims Canberra is “pretty clean”. Does he not read the papers?
The Goverment's Human Rights Commission is failing to the Defend the Rights and Freedoms of Australians
2014-04-14 Letter to Human Rights Commissioner; acknowledged, no response.
2014-07-23 Parliamentary Defence Subcommittee Submission discussing failure of the Human Rights Commission.
2014-02-06: Royal Petition concerning Crime and Corruption within the Australian Public Service I
To Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO. (rejected; no reason given)
2013-12-02: Revealed: the government agency stealing ideas from businesses,
Chris Seage, Crikey.com.au, December 2, 2013 12:44PM.
'A number of businesses are complaining a Defence Department organisation has stolen their intellectual property, Crikey can reveal.
Chris Seage reports new legislation [The Defence Trade Controls Act] makes the problem worse.'
Warning: Do not participate in the DSTO CTD Capability and Technology Demonstrator or any other DSTO program
The DSTO solicits innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs to submit technology to the DSTO for evaluation.
Do not participate in this or reveal your technology to the DSTO.
The DSTO has stolen technology worth millions of dollars from companies, large and small.
You have no practical legal recourse if your technology is stolen.
In Australia theft of trade secrets is not a crime.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will not investigate even if fraud is involved.
Behind the smokescreen of the powerless Probity Board,
Australian Federal Government lawyers assert the DSTO has no duty of care to protect your confidential information nor to act honestly.
Non-disclosure agreements with the Australian Government are unenforceable.
Move your business to America
welcomes high-tech innovators.
They are protected by
US Economic Espionage Act of 1996.
(Australia has no comparable legislation,
so if a public servant or an employee steals your IP, there is nothing you can do.)
Unlike the AFP, The American FBI is apolitical and makes fighting public corruption its top priority.
Individuals stealing trade secrets from American companies are fined up to US$5M and corporations up to US$10M or three times the value of the IP stolen.
America has better access to talent, connections and venture capital too.
Australia is too dangerous for a high-tech company to do business.
The DTCA makes it worse. Go to America Instead. Click here to learn about:
Innovation in America,
Doing Business with the US Department of Defense
US DoD Small Business Programs.
Related Web Sites - Useful Links
Victims of CSIRO: Support CSIRO Whistleblowers.
Ozloop: Good public servants don't despair. There are many like you.
Open Australia: Find out which politicians represent you and what they are saying.
"Our Corrupt Legal System" is a book by Walkley award-winning journalist Evan Whitton.
Written in plain-speak, anyone contemplating court action should read it. If your court case is tomorrow, start reading right now.
Legal Researcher Dr Bob Moles ACII (UK) LLB (Hons) (Belf) PhD
says "This is one of the most important books I have ever read on the common law legal system".
Click here for:
[10 Page Summary]
[Buy Online (A$35)]
[Download for Free (PDF)]
Dissent: Learn how to Speak Out in Australia.
victimsofdsto.com. 29/04/2013 06/09/2013 04/08/2014.