The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA88 - 23 June 2004

Passport Measures Help Secure Australia

New legislation that I am introducing into Parliament today will strengthen our passports system and help keep Australia secure.

Measures in the Australian Passports Bill aim to combat identity fraud and the possible misuse of passports by terrorists and other criminals.

Penalties for passport fraud will be dramatically increased, new technology will improve the integrity of the passports system and the numbers of lost and stolen passports will be reduced.

The Government's power to cancel or refuse to issue passports for national security and law enforcement reasons will also be clarified

The Bill addresses limitations in the 66-year-old Passports Act and provides a modern legal structure to underpin our world-class passports issuing process.

Under the Bill:

The Bill also provides for the introduction of facial biometric technology as an effective means of verifying identity. The privacy of Australia's eight million passport holders will be protected and confidence in our passport system will be boosted.

The Bill retains the basic requirements for the issue of passports for children. These requirements are in place to protect children from abduction and to protect the rights of parents. However, when there is a dispute between parents over the travel of their child overseas, the matter will be resolved by a court rather than by my Department.

The Australian Passports Bill complements recent government initiatives on border security, counter-terrorism and identity fraud.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 - Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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