Labour Has Doubts Over SmartGate Passport (Australia)

Labor has doubts over SmartGate passport

The Age (Melbourne)
March 26, 2007 – 8:29PM

Labor has given its support to the expensive new SmartGate passport system to be introduced at Australia's international airports this year, but has its doubts about the program's success.

SmartGate removes the need for an officer to check passports and visas personally and relies on facial recognition technology.

Debate on the new laws resumed in parliament on Monday and Labor's immigration spokesman Tony Burke said huge problems surrounded Customs' introduction of a new cargo management system which came to a head last year.

“That project was approved without a financial management plan, costed on the base of a stab in the dark, delivered years late and approximately $200 million over budget,” Mr Burke told parliament.

“Labor has had good reason to question the government's ability to manage the implementation of systems technology in this area.”

He said it was difficult to accept the government's assurances that the same problems would not happen again.

“While Labor supports the bill and it will facilitate the ability of people with eligible passports to choose to use an automated processing system for immigration clearance to Australia, Labor remains wary of the system the government has chosen and of the government's ability to administer that system.

“Labor will be monitoring the performance, cost and international compatibility of the SmartGate system.”

The government says the technology will allow for faster processing of travellers.

Customs was given almost $62 million over four years in the 2005-06 budget to roll out the automated system.