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Monday, 17 September 1973
Page: 1035

Mr DOYLE (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - Has the Minister for Immigration received complaints about delays in issuing passports? If so, what is being done to ensure that this essential service is efficient?

Mr GRASSBY (RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Immigration) - It is true that in the past there have been delays in dealing with the volume of passport applications, which has grown tremendously in recent years. As a matter of fact, the honourable member is from Brisbane and it is interesting to note that the largest increase in applications by people wishing to leave Australia recently has come from Brisbane. There has been a 41 per cent increase, which is .the highest increase in applications in the Commonwealth.

Mr DONALD CAMERON (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - That has happened since you came into power.

Mr GRASSBY - Actually, those figures were for the last calendar year. I hope that those people will all return, of course. But, more seriously, I point out that each year there are movements in 'and out of Australia of the order of 1 million people leaving the country and 1.1 million people entering the country. The number of passports now being issued is of the order of 230,000 a year. As to the delays, I have set up some special task force groups that have gone into offices in order to help to streamline procedures. I am pleased to report that, over the whole of Australia, passports are being issued more quickly now than at any time in the past, despite the increased volume of applications. In fact, the average time taken in all of the 11 centres from which passports are issued is 3 days. If any specific delays are still occurring from time to time, then if the honourable member draws my attention to them we will have them rectified.

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