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The Australian Senate has resolved to establish a Select Committee on Adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI) to inquire into and report to the Australian Parliament on the opportunities and impacts arising out of the adoption of AI technologies in Australia. This provides an important opportunity for Australian companies to shape the future direction of Australia’s AI-related regulatory reforms. Interested parties are encouraged to make written submissions by 10 May 2024.

In brief

On 26 March 2024, the Australian Senate resolved to establish the Select Committee on Adopting Artificial Intelligence (Committee) to inquire into and report on the opportunities and impacts arising out of the adoption of AI technologies in Australia.

The Committee’s inquiry provides an important opportunity for Australian companies to shape the future direction of Australia’s AI-related regulatory reforms as the Government continues to formulate its position on the regulation of AI.


Based on the Australian Government’s interim response to its consultation relating to Safe and Responsible AI in Australia released on 17 January 2024, as discussed in more detail in our client alert, some of the areas of focus for potential regulatory changes include:

  • concerns that Australia’s current regulatory framework does not sufficiently address risks presented by AI, particularly the high-risk applications of AI in legitimate settings and frontier models
  • concerns that existing laws do not adequately prevent AI-facilitated harms before they occur
  • identifying where an AI-specific legal response may be needed and where existing laws are sufficient to manage current and emerging risks associated with AI
  • considering if mandatory obligations or “guardrails” are needed for those who develop or use AI systems that present a high risk, to ensure their AI systems are safe; and
  • defining what constitutes “high risk” AI in Australia that should be subject to enhanced regulation.

The Committee’s inquiry and call for submissions also follows a flurry of important Australian regulatory and policy developments throughout 2023 relating to AI, as considered in our 2023 AI Year in Review.

Interested parties, and particularly any companies that are engaging with AI technologies in Australia or plan to do so, are encouraged to contribute to the inquiry by making submissions to the Committee on several topics relevant to the inquiry’s terms of reference including:

  • recent trends and opportunities in the development and adoption of AI technologies in Australia and overseas, in particular as they relate to generative AI;
  • risks and harms arising from the adoption of AI including bias, discrimination, and error;
  • emerging international approaches (including regulatory and policy settings) to mitigating AI risks
  • opportunities to adopt AI in ways that benefit citizens, the environment and/or economic growth, for example in health and climate management
  • opportunities to foster a responsible AI industry in Australia and investment in AI technologies
  • potential threats to democracy and trust in institutions from AI, particularly generative AI; and
  • environmental impacts of AI technologies and opportunities for limiting and mitigating impacts.

The Committee has called for written submissions by 10 May 2024 and intends to present its final report to the Australian Parliament on or before 19 September 2024. Submissions should be addressed to the Committee Secretariat:

Select Committee on Adopting Artificial Intelligence (AI)
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
aicommittee.sen@aph.gov.au

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like assistance preparing a submission.

Author

Anne has been with Baker McKenzie since 2001. Prior to that, she spent four years with the Australian Attorney-General's Department/Australian Government Solicitor mostly working on large IT projects. In her time at Baker McKenzie, Anne has spent 18 months working in London (2007-2008) and more recently three years working in Singapore (2017-2020). Anne is currently the Asia Pacific head of the International Commercial & Trade Group and global co-lead of the Firm's supply chain client solutions initiative.

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Adrian Lawrence is the head of the Firm's Asia Pacific Technology, Media & Telecommunications Group. He is a partner in the Sydney office of Baker McKenzie where he advises on media, intellectual property and information technology, providing advice in relation to major issues relating to the online and offline media interests. He is recognised as a leading Australian media and telecommunications lawyer.

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Toby Patten is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Technology and Healthcare teams in Melbourne. He joined the Firm in March 2005.

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Elisabeth White is a partner in Baker McKenzie's Sydney office. Elisabeth has over 15 years' experience as an intellectual property and regulatory advisor, focusing upon IP protection and enforcement with a particular emphasis on regulated industries and related disputes. Elisabeth is described in Asia Pacific Legal 500 as providing “decisive expert opinion and a pragmatic approach”. She has been featured in Best Lawyers - Intellectual Property listed annually since 2013.

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Caitlin Whale is a partner in the Technology, Communications and Commercial team. She advises on technology, outsourcing and commercial law issues. Caitlin advises on technology and rights-specific issues in large corporate and commercial transactions, and has experience in managing multi-territory licensing and divestments for multi-national clients. She has extensive experience in advising on a range of commercial arrangements, including licence and software agreements, research and development and collaboration agreements, supply agreements and distribution agreements. Caitlin has experience in rights management and enforcement, advising on the ownership, registration, exploitation and protection of copyright, trade marks and designs. She has represented rights-owners and users and has particular experience in relation to online infringement issues.

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Jarrod Bayliss-McCulloch is a special counsel in the Information Technology & Commercial department at the Melbourne office of Baker McKenzie and advises on major technology-driven transactions and regulatory issues spanning telecommunications, intellectual property, data privacy and consumer law with a particular focus on digital media and new product development. Jarrod joined the Firm in 2009 and his prior experience includes working in strategy consulting and development economics.

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Simone Blackadder is a special counsel in the Media & Content team at Baker McKenzie, Sydney. Simone joined the Firm in 2010 and was admitted to practice in 2012. She now works primarily on litigious matters within the IT, communications, media and defamation fields.

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Sally Pierce is a special counsel in the Technology, Data and Commercial team. Sally has a broad commercial practice with particular focus on issues in the technology and defence industries. Sally spent a 13-month secondment in a global professional services company that specialises in information technology services and consulting and six months with a leading defence technology company working on defence technology transactions.

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