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New technology strengthening Australia's borders.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

New technology strengthening Australia's borders

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

New technology now in place at international airports and seaports will help strengthen Australia's border security, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today.

Senator Evans said the Immigration department's new border security portal will give airport inspectors more time to assess passengers' data before their flight arrives in Australia.

'This will mean border inspectors can clear low-risk passengers quickly and allow for more careful assessment of people who may be of concern,' Senator Evans said.

'Previously, inspectors needed to check multiple systems and sources of information to gain a full picture of a passenger's circumstances. The new portal gathers information from several separate systems currently accessed by border security staff.

'In assessing whether a person is eligible to enter the country, Immigration staff have access to the passenger's travel history, travel documentation, contact information, known aliases as well as the status of any security checks.

'Through one computer screen, staff at airports and seaports will be able to view all relevant information, and linkages between different pieces of information from multiple systems about a client, quickly and efficiently.

'This new technology will provide border security staff faster access to a wider range of information to ensure people arriving in Australia have legal travel documents and pose no risk to our security.'

The Government will also continue to support the delivery of the Security Referral Service over the coming months to staff based in Australia and overseas.

'This service provides an effective and reliable electronic link between the Immigration department and security agencies, ensuring a more efficient security checking process,' Senator Evans said.

The Minister said about 1500 people were refused immigration clearance at the border each year, with those stopped from entering Australian returned to their country of departure as soon as travel arrangements can be made, often on the same day that they arrive.

'We have about 12 million passengers arriving in Australia each year so the roll-out of this new technology is an essential part of the Rudd Government's commitment to making a stronger, more effective border control system for Australia,' Senator Evans said.

'Passenger arrivals are expected to rise by about five per cent per year which means the Immigration department must adopt cost-effective strategies to manage the increased workload.'

The $2.5 million Border Security Portal is part of the Systems for People business transformation program currently being implemented at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Systems for People is a four-year $616 million program which, once completed, will provide staff with a single view of a client's dealings with the department while also supporting greater consistency in work practices and improved record keeping.