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Tuesday, 29 November 1983
Page: 3022

Question No. 234


Mr Blanchard asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 26 May 1983:

(1) Is it a fact that justices of the peace and bank managers have been removed from the list of persons qualified to witness passport applications; if so, (a) why and (b) can he indicate whether many justices of the peace are now questioning their standing in the community.

(2) Can he indicate whether justices of the peace are trained to witness documents.


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) (a) In a statement to Parliament on 8 December 1982 the former Minister for Foreign Affairs outlined the response of the then Government to 'Interim Report No. 2-Passports'-of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking headed by Mr Justice Stewart, and gave details of proposed changes to the passport issuing procedures that would be introduced progressively according to an agreed time-table.

The present Government expressed its support for the proposed changes and on 14 June 1983 I issued a statement confirming that the new procedures referred to by the honourable member would become effective from 1 July 1983.

The change of categories of persons eligible to certify an applicant's identity for the purpose of passport issue is one of the changes designed to counter passport abuse. Justices of the peace have been excluded because, when taken as a group in all states and Territories, they are too numerous to facilitate an easy and quick security check. My Department's survey showed that in one state alone there were an estimated 160,000 Justices of the peace. Bank Managers were deleted at the request of the travel industry, which complained that their inclusion would give a commercial advantage to banks having their own travel agencies.

(b) This is not really for me to comment on.

(2) The training of justices of the peace is a matter of State jurisdiction and accordingly I am unable to comment on the training they receive in the witnessing of documents. I would draw to the honourable member's attention, however, that the eligiable persons are not asked to witness the passport application; they are asked to certify that they have known the applicant personally for a period of not less than one year.