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Military End-Use provisions (section 112BA) of the Customs Act 1901

Important Note:If you suspect that your exported goods may be for a military end-use that may prejudice Australia's security, defence or international relations you must immediately contact DEC.

In 2012 the Australian Government strengthened Australia's export control framework to include controls on the export of goods that are not normally controlled, but could support or contribute to an adverse military end-use (MEU) activity. This military end-use provision was introduced through an amendment to the Customs Act 1901.

The purpose of the Military End-Use provisions (section 112BA) of the Customs Act 1901 (MEU provisions) is to provide a power to prohibit the export of non-regulated goods or tangible technology that may contribute to a military end-use that would prejudice Australia's security, defence or international relations.

The MEU provision is a catch-all control, similar to those in the WMD Act. This means it would only be used if other controls did not apply.

The MEU provisions allow the Minister for Defence to prohibit exports where the Minister suspects that the export of particular goods to a particular place or person, would or may be for a military end-use that would prejudice the security, defence or international relations of Australia.

As the MEU provisions fall under the Customs Act 1901, they can only apply to the export of tangible goods and tangible technology. This different to the WMD Act, which can apply to tangible goods, tangible and intangible technology, and services.

What is ‘military end-use' activity?

The legal definition for ‘military end-use' is provided in the Customs Act 1901 and states that:

...goods are or may be for a military end-use if the goods are or may be for use in operations, exercises or other activities conducted by an armed force or an armed group, whether or not the armed force or armed group forms part of the armed forces of the government of a foreign country.

We assess export applications against the MEU controls as part of our normal processes, and will notify exporters as necessary. We can also help you to assess whether an export would or may be used for a military end-use activity that would prejudice the security, defence or international relations of Australia

Before undertaking a transaction that involves the export of goods or tangible technology that would or may be used for a military end-use activity, we suggest that you:

  • assess the utility of the goods and tangible technology for military end-use activities; and
  • assess whether the goods could support or contribute to a military end-use activity (see definition above) that would prejudice Australia's security, defence or international relations by considering Australia's Export Control Policy – we can assist companies in this assessment process.

As is the case for assessments made under the WMD Act, the goods need not be limited to actual weapons. The interpretation of the MEU provisions could be broad enough to cover goods that may be used in support of military operations, exercises or activities. See this scenario for a case example:

Soldiers and helicopter