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Wednesday, 24 October 1984
Page: 2418

(Question No. 1029)


Senator Walters asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 21 August 1984:

(1) Is it a fact that justices of the peace are no longer listed on passport application instruction sheets as one of the categories of persons eligible to complete passport application certificates; if so, were they removed from the list by accident or design.

(2) If by design, when and why were they rendered ineligible.


Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Yes; the deletion was intentional.

(2) In a statement to the Parliament on 8 December 1982 the former Minister for Foreign Affairs outlined the then Government's response to Mr Justice Stewart's Interim Report No. 2-Passports and gave details of proposed changes to passport issuing procedures. In respect of persons eligible to sign the Certification Regarding Applicant, the Government agreed that the group of categories of person entitled to provide this certification should be restricted to those persons who clearly meet the following criteria:

(i) The group should be wide enough for each applicant for a passport to know at least one person in one of the categories;

(ii) The categories should include people on whom passport offices can check readily and with whom they can make contact fairly easily to confirm the bona fides of the passport applicant;

(iii) The categories should be limited to people whose careers would be affected if they were found to be involved in fraudulent practices.

The inclusion of members of all previous categories from all States would have made the total numbers of eligible persons so large as to defeat the primary objective of the review. As a result several of the larger previous categories, such as justices of the peace, had to be excluded.

The change of categories of those eligible to certify an applicant's identity is only one of a package of measures designed to counter passport abuse. For example, as a result of the recommendations of the Stewart Royal Commission, the Government stated a commitment to move towards an identity check for all passport applicants. The present Government while in Opposition supported these changes and has since implemented the agreed recommendations of the Stewart Royal Commission.