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Thursday, 20 September 2001
Page: 31182

Mr SCIACCA (9:58 AM) —First of all, the opposition supports the Migration Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 5) 1997. The bill amends the Migration Act to ensure that private sector organisations can continue to disclose to the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs information concerning a person's travel or proposed travel to or from Australia. Airlines and shipping companies, as well as some travel agents, will be bound by the Privacy Act 1988 on commencement of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 on 21 December 2001. The purpose of this bill is to ensure that such organisations can continue to provide the abovementioned information. Currently airlines provide personal information regarding incoming passengers to department of immigration officers. This information naturally facilitates immigration clearance, and a failure to receive such information may cause considerable processing delays upon arrival. Passenger information is currently also received from shipping companies and ship masters to facilitate immigration clearance at seaports.

Basically, all this bill is attempting to achieve is a situation whereby the Privacy Act that comes into force on 21 December 2001 does not apply to the situation in the immigration area. Naturally, with everything that has been happening over the last couple of weeks—and particularly with the situation in the United States—we need to be extraordinarily careful that we can find people and identify people that are catching aircraft, and of course we need to ensure that we maintain the integrity of our borders. This is simply a measure that is designed to ensure that there are no overriding requirements which will preclude airline companies from giving us the information that we need every day from just about every airport in the world. The opposition supports this bill, and I do not think there is much point in wasting the time of this committee any further in respect of this particular bill.