Travellers entering Australia will be checked to see if they have undeclared criminal convictions against a biometrics database, Federal Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison announced today.
Speaking at the Biometrics Institute Asia Pacific conference in Sydney, Morrison told delegates that the government is investing $700 million over the next six years to modernise Australia’s border management system.
“Underpinning the operation will be an intelligence gathering biometrics data collection. Before commencing their journey, the traveller will provide clearance information as part of the check-in process,” he said.
The data will then be passed on to Australian border security agencies for assessment prior to the traveller’s arrival. During transit, the data will be evaluated against risk criteria such as criminal convictions and links to terrorist groups.
According to Morrison, this process will ensure that “any risk” to Australia’s security is identified before arrival.
“The traveller will pass through streamlined automatic passport control systems that examine and retain biometric data,” he said.
If the person is identified as a potential criminal or terrorist, the border protection officer will intervene and take the traveller to a separate zone for manual processing.
“If no risks are identified, it is anticipated that visitors will move through automated systems in less than a minute," said Morrison.
He added that e-passports and the SmartGate system, which was introduced in 2005, has “moved from strength to strength” and is now operating at all eight major Australian airports.
By 2016, more than 25 per cent of the 42.9 million passengers expected to pass through major airports in Australia will use the SmartGate system, he said.
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick