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US plaudits for Australian immigration.

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Senator Kay Patterson Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs

Media Release

5 October 2000

US Plaudits for Australian Immigration The United States is set to apply Australian Immigration know how to its preparations for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games.

A team of US Government officials has just returned to the States after studying the Australian Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs Olympics' arrangements.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Senator Kay Patterson, said the staff from the State Department and Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) will apply the knowledge they had gained to Salt Lake City's Games planning.

"This has been the busiest period on record for Australian immigration with latest departmental figures showing that for October 3, there were more than 17,500 international departures - an 81% increase on the same day last year.

"On 'Super Monday', October 2, there were more than 25,000 international departures on 520 planes, a staggering 125% increase on last year's corresponding day.

"Nearly 40,000 Olympic Family members entered Australia for the Games, and a total of around 29,000 have now departed".

Senator Patterson said the US officials said how impressed they were with Australia's entry and exit arrangements, and with the degree of Australia's planning and preparations.

"They were able to learn a great deal from the extensive range of systems we have implemented, and plan to incorporate this knowledge into the arrangements they are currently developing".

Senator Patterson said Immigration had dedicated significant resources to ensure this smooth entry and exit of Games visitors.

"Immigration's principal challenge was ensuring that the record numbers of international visitors had their entry facilitated, while the integrity of our borders was maintained.

"This was achieved principally by the Olympic Travel Authority (OTA), specially created for Olympic and Paralympic Family Members.

"The OTA complemented and built on Australia's universal visa system, and in particular our electronic travel authority (ETA) visa which allows pre-travel checking so processing in Australia can occur in seconds.

"Never before has a country offered the simplicity of such a comprehensive electronic visa system to

provide entry to the athletes, officials, media and coaches who comprise the OIympic and Paralympic families."

Senator Patterson said that considerable resources had also been placed internationally to facilitate the smooth entry of our international guests.

"Overseas-based Departmental representatives contacted and made themselves available to assist the National Olympic Committees of every country.

"Experienced immigration officers were also placed in Lagos and in the Middle East in the lead-up to and throughout the Olympic period to service the needs of the region's travellers.

"Furthermore, an Airline Liaison Officer was placed in Johannesburg to assist African nationals transiting South Africa.

"Despite these efforts, it is important to note that Immigration has set itself the target of supplying the same level of service for visitors and athletes involved in the Paralympic Games".

Latest Immigration figures show that 809 Paralympic Family Members have so far arrived in Australia.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs commenced its Games planning in 1992, and formally established an Olympics section in 1996.

Media enquiries: Louise Ahern (02) 6277 3800 For further statistical information, contact: Jeremy Chitty on (02) 6264 2244

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