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Wednesday, 7 February 2018
Page: 502

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (10:29): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to introduce theAustralian Passports Amendment (Identity-matching Services) Bill 2018.

This bill will provide a clear legal basis for ensuring that the foreign minister is able to direct the automation of the sharing of passport data for the purposes of national security. This legislation responds to the Commonwealth and the states and territories decision at a special meeting of the Council of Australian Governments on 5 October 2017.

These services are a key component in ensuring a nationally consistent approach to preventing and responding to national security threats, in particular terrorist threats. They will help protect Australians by making it easier for security and law enforcement agencies to identify people who are suspects or those who are victims of terrorist or other criminal activity—while maintaining robust privacy safeguards.

The services will also contribute to preventing and detecting identity fraud, and safeguard general law enforcement, national security, protective security, community safety, road safety and other identity verification measures.

Identity crime imposes significant economic costs through fraudulent financial and commercial transactions. It facilitates terrorist, narcotics and money-laundering offences. The services will make false identities more difficult to obtain and to use, and improve the ability of law enforcement agencies to detect fraudulent identities.

The bill will amend the Australian Passports Act 2005 to add a new purpose for disclosing personal information through automated means. This is consistent with sharing already occurring between Commonwealth agencies, namely to participate in a service to share or match information relating to the identity of an individual. The kind of service, and the persons to whom the service may disclose the information, will be specified in a minister's determination.

The bill also updates the Passports Act in line with comparable Commonwealth legislation to provide that the foreign minister may arrange for the automation of data-sharing with Commonwealth, state and territory agencies.

Automated disclosure of passport data will enable agencies to detect identify fraud and national security threats in real time.

This is particularly important in ensuring the safety of Australians attending large-scale events, such as the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

It will also enable the automation of other passport decisions such as decisions to renew passports where there is a match with facial images and biographical data already on file from previous passport applications.


The measures in this bill are timely and essential, especially in helping to protect Australians from criminal activity, including terrorism and identity crime.

I commend this bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.