by Byron Connolly

Coalition pledges $99M for new immigration system

May 12, 2016
GovernmentTechnology Industry

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection will receive $99.2 million for a new system to boost its visa risk assessment capabilities.

Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, told a national security conference in Canberra on Wednesday night that a new visa risk assessment capability within the department will consolidate immigration and border information.

This will enable better informed decision making and threat identification and immigration staff will not have to go searching for information, Dutton said.

“Traditionally, while visa applicants have to meet character and security criteria, much of the risk assessment has focused on immigration risk – that is, will the applicant overstay their visa or work when they don’t have work rights?” he said.

“Decision makers need to have the tools to take a closer look at a traveller’s broader criminal and security risks. They need to know much more about visa applicants and whether they pose a threat to the community.”

The new system will enable staff to identify risks at the visa application, before individuals even reach the border, he said.

He said the department had put in great effort into training staff to detect fake passports, but a real challenge is where the documents are genuine but the traveller is not.

“We’ve had instances where a criminal or person with terrorist intent has left or entered the country using a relative’s passport. Staff are good at detecting this fraud, but technology is leaping ahead.”

Immigration’s SmartGates technology rollout – which began in 2015 – uses facial biometrics to confirm the identity of a traveller and authenticates travel documents.

SmartGates is part of a $630 million program to boost counter-terrorism measures.

Almost six million passengers have left Australia through the departure SmartGates and the roll out of all 92 SmartGates will be completed in the coming weeks, Dutton said.