Government Closing Migration Loophole (Australia)

Government closing migration loophole

The Age (Melbourne)
March 26, 2007 – 7:24PM

A loophole that impeded the investigation of suspects held by immigration officials is being plugged under a bill passed by the House of Representatives on Monday.

The amendment will allow officials to give law enforcement agencies more personal information about suspects.

When introducing the amendment to the Migration Act, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews said restrictions on the release of “personal identifiers” – like fingerprints, signatures and photos – was hampering investigations and had forced some to be aborted.

He said the change would allow such information to be disclosed when it was “reasonably necessary for the enforcement of criminal law”.

Labor supported the change, although its immigration spokesman Tony Burke criticised the government for being too slow to close the loophole.

Mr Burke said that under the original 2004 measure, personal identifiers had a higher level of protection than was required under the Privacy Act.

But it had taken the government until 2007 to fix the problem, and it had only acted after the Director of Public Prosecutions complained.

The bill now goes to the Senate.