Thank you for the opportunity to provide input into this process. As Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, which conduct around 70 per cent of the nation’s university-based research, we have a critical interest in supporting national priority projects such as AUKUS, and in assisting the Department of Defence and the Australian Government more broadly to design appropriate enabling mechanisms such as export control settings.
This submission provides a high-level view and should be read in the context of the limited time available for feedback.
The delivery of AUKUS is not without significant challenges given its complexity.
This includes the need to co-ordinate across the three sectors of industry, government and universities domestically, and to do so across three countries. This will require legislative and regulatory pathways to enable the necessary exchange as is under consideration here.
The Go8 is aware of reports that legislation which gives Australia (and the UK) a national exemption from US export controls licensing requirements may be stalled in the US Congress, or that the reciprocal requirements necessary to enable the legislation would be so stringent that in practice co-operation could not occur.
The AUKUS agreement is ambitious with a decades long horizon. This makes it vulnerable to political factors in the three partner countries. Australia will need to maintain significant momentum if the AUKUS agreement is to prevail.
The Go8 has strong and pre-existing relationships with our counterpart organisations in the UK (the Russell Group) and the US (the Association of American Universities). Combined, we also have significant convening power as peak bodies to bring together leaders from each sector – including industry and government – in meaningful engagements that lead to practical policy outcomes. For example, a recent dialogue between the Go8 and Russell Group Vice Chancellors led to the signing of a joint statement outlining a range of practical measures designed to leverage the mechanisms of the Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement to deepen bilateral research engagement in areas of mutual national priority.
We represent a considerable asset that can and must be used to Australia’s advantage to maintain the forward momentum necessary to see AUKUS come to fruition, particularly in the research-reliant Pillar II (Advanced Capabilities). We urge the Department and Government to utilise this asset.