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Security begins at home Mr Downer - 2000 missing passports is not 'tiny'.



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KEVIN RUDD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Security

29 April 2005

SECURITY BEGINS AT HOME MR DOWNER - 2000 MISSING PASSPORTS IS NOT “TINY”

Foreign Minister Downer said last night that 2000 missing Australian passports was “a tiny number”.

It appears Mr Downer is spending too much time jockeying for the Deputy Leadership of the Liberal Party and not enough time focusing on the core responsibilities of his Department.

Information obtained by Labor confirms that up to 2500 Australian passports remain “unaccounted for” - as they have not reached their intended destination by post.

We have established through parliamentary questions on notice that over 1000 Australian Passports remain unaccounted for in the past three years alone.

On 31 December 1997 Mr Downer dropped the requirement that his Department send out Australian passports by registered post.

We can confirm that between 31 December 1997 and 22 July 2002 (when Mr Downer reinstated the requirement to use registered post) at least 2042 passports were recorded as “missing” and at the time of our receipt of questions on notice, 1435 remain unaccounted for.

In the 2003/04 financial year, 1302 Australian passports were recorded as “missing” and of those 1076 remain unaccounted for as of February this year.

This comes on top of the disclosure from DFAT yesterday that one of the Bali 9 was employed in the Sydney passports office in 2000 and the news that Indonesian authorities are now claiming that some of the Bali 9 were using multiple passports.

Mr Downer talks all the time about national security, but security first and foremost begins at home.

As a matter of urgency Mr Downer must tell the Australian public what has happened to the up to 2500 Australian passports that remain “unaccounted for” and whether it is

possible that any of these passports could have been used for improper purposes in support of transnational crime.

Ends. 29 April 2005

Media contact: Alister Jordan 0417 605 823