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Penalties

Australian export control laws establish serious criminal offences for illegal exporting, supplying, publishing or brokering.
Exports of goods and technology from Australia are controlled under Australian legislation. The penalties for contravening the legislation vary depending on the offence and the type of activity.
Before you export, supply, publish or broker any military and dual-use goods or technology, you should be aware of the requirements under the legislation, and the penalties which apply for not meeting those requirements.

Breaches of the Customs Act

Under the Customs Act 1901, it is an offence to unlawfully export goods listed in the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL), and to export uncontrolled goods which are subject to a prohibition notice. Those prosecuted face the following penalties:

  • Exporting DSGL goods without a permit: imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine not exceeding 2,500 penalty units* (or both);
  • Exporting DSGL goods in breach of a permit condition: a fine not exceeding 100 penalty units*;
  • Knowingly exporting goods subject to a military end-use prohibition notice in contravention of the notice: imprisonment of up to 10 years or a fine not exceeding 2,500 penalty units* (or both).

Failure to comply with a permit condition may also result in the Minister revoking the permit.  
Additionally, any goods that are exported unlawfully may be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth.

Breaches of the Defence Trade Controls Act

The Defence Trade Controls Act 2012 creates offences and penalties for the following unlawful dealings with DSGL items:

  • Supplying DSGL technology without a permit or in contravention of a permit condition;
  • Supplying DSGL technology in contravention of a prohibition notice or a condition specified in a prohibition notice;
  • Publishing technology listed in Part 1 of the DSGL without approval or in contravention of an approval condition;
  • Publishing DSGL technology in contravention of a prohibition notice or a condition specified in a prohibition notice;
  • Brokering goods or technology listed in Part 1 of the DSGL without a permit or in contravention of a permit condition;
  • Brokering goods or technology listed in Part 2 of the DSGL without a permit or in contravention of a permit condition, where the broker knows, is reckless or negligent as to whether the goods or technology may be for a military end-use or WMD program; and
  • Brokering DSGL technology in contravention of a notice or a condition specified in a notice.

Those prosecuted for any of these offences face imprisonment for up to 10 years or a fine not exceeding 2,500 penalty units* (or both).
Additionally, any goods and technology that are supplied unlawfully may be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth.

Breaches of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act

Under the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Prevention of Proliferation) Act 1995, it is an offence to engage in the following actions without a permit or in contravention of a permit condition:  

  • Supplying goods which the person believes or suspects, on reasonable grounds, will or may be used in a WMD program;
  • Exporting uncontrolled goods which the person believes or suspects, on reasonable grounds, will or may be used in a WMD program;
  • Providing services which the person believes or suspects will or may assist a WMD program; and
  • Supplying or exporting goods or providing services in contravention of a prohibition notice or a condition specified in a prohibition notice.

Those prosecuted face imprisonment for up to 8 years or a court-imposed fine.
Any goods exported or supplied unlawfully may be seized and forfeited to the Commonwealth.

Breaches relating to sanctions

Please note that an export may be subject to sanctions.
More information on sanctions, including breaches of sanctions, is available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website

Application of the Criminal Code Act

Under section 136.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, any person who makes a false or misleading statement in an application for a permit or certificate faces a maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment.
*Note that the pecuniary value of a penalty unit is in section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914. As of 1 July 2017, the value of one penalty unit is $210, with the next increase scheduled for 1 July 2020.


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