This page belongs to: Action Plan for Critical Technologies

About the List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest

Australia's national interest

In 2020, the Australian Government set out to identify current and emerging critical technologies and assess their impact on Australia’s national interest.

In order to maximise the opportunities, and manage the risks associated with these technologies, we look at these technologies through a national interest lens.

Australia’s national interest includes economic prosperity, national security and social cohesion. Advances in technology underpin our future prosperity, however, they also have the potential to harm our national and economic security interests, and undermine our democratic values and principles.

Triangle split into 4 equal pieces with the words Social Cohesion, National Interest, National Security and Economic prosperity in the pieces

About the list

In order to assist with the identification of critical technologies in the national interest, the Australian Government has developed Australia’s initial List of critical technologies in the national interest (“the List”). The 63 technologies on the List have the capacity to be used in many different ways, with many having implications for defence and security, but often also broader applications.

Our aim in developing the List is to provide guidance and a clear signal about the critical technologies that may have national interest implications for Australia today or within the next ten years. The List is part of Government’s guidance and assistance to society, academia and businesses to build the right skills and acquire the necessary tools to efficiently and effectively adopt critical technologies in a safe and secure manner.

This List itself does not imply any recommended or prohibited actions —inclusion of a technology on the List does not imply guaranteed prioritisation or that there is a real or perceived risk to national security from that technology. Conversely, technologies not on the List are not, in and of themselves, unimportant or excluded from future consideration by government. This List is an overarching list that is separate to other more targeted lists of technologies developed by government to address specific policy requirements; for example, the Defence and Strategic Goods List (DSGL).

Technologies on the List are not presented in order of importance, by sector or by application. An initial attempt has been made to identify standalone technologies, at a similar level of granularity, for inclusion on the List. Some important business models and products (e.g. Software as a Service (SaaS) and social media platforms), critical infrastructure (e.g. electricity networks and cloud computing), and converged technologies (e.g. the Internet of Things and technology-enabled misinformation campaigns such as “fake news”) are therefore not included on the List.

What the list is and is not

The List does

  • Provide a central list of critical technologies to assist with consistent discussion and decision making across sectors.
  • Indicate technologies that may require increased focus to promote or protect our national interest.
  • Indicate technologies that may require additional risk management.
  • Indicate technologies where additional development or understanding may be required.

The List is not

  • Static. Government intends to update the List regularly.
  • A list of technologies that will be, or should be, additionally regulated or controlled.
  • A list of technologies where the government intends to prevent or limit collaboration with international research partners.
  • Intended to override or replace other specific government technology lists, such as the DSGL.

Development of the list

Government first developed an initial list based on existing technology lists from across government and key international partners. This initial list underwent broad consultation across government, academia and industry. The most extensive consultation occurred in the agriculture and health sectors, on technologies considered potentially critical to them. The first round of feedback focused primarily on the granularity and explanation of technologies; the need to ensure the list captured specific critical technologies; the mapping of technologies to university course and research codes; and areas for inclusion where Australia had a strong capability in a technology. The list was revised significantly to take account of the feedback and a further round of targeted consultation was undertaken. Key feedback from that round of consultation was the need to provide more information on the purpose of the List, add applications across all technologies, and to improve the presentation of the List.

Next steps

We recognise there is more to do. The List does not cover instances of technological convergence, which are also likely to be critical; we anticipate further work in this area in the coming months. We will also ensure all stakeholders have an opportunity to provide input to regular reviews of the List, which will take account of changes in strategic priorities and emerging research.