|09CANBERRA568||2009-06-17 23:10:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Canberra|
R 172310Z JUN 09 FM AMEMBASSY CANBERRA TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1641 INFO AMCONSUL MELBOURNE AMCONSUL PERTH AMCONSUL SYDNEY DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
C O N F I D E N T I A L CANBERRA 000568
1. (U) The Australian government is forward leaning in both
maintaining border security and providing assistance to
partners in the fight against terrorism. To that end, robust
and dynamic protocols are in place to ensure that the
movement of suspected and known terrorists are monitored and
thwarted. This has been and continues to be a
whole-of-government effort. In response to State 133921, post
submits the following information on GOA practices with
regard to information collection, screening and sharing.
2. (C)A. Watch listing:
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs
and Border Protection) maintains a watch list and works
closely with intelligence and law enforcement parQrs to
ensure that border security is maintained through the sharing
of intelligence and other available information. Information
is shared within the parameters of Australia's privacy
Immigration maintains the Central Movement Alert List. This
list hosts identities of concern ranging from immigration
malpractice, criminals, war crimes and national security
concerns. The Document Alert List component of CMAL contains
details of travel documents of concern. CMAL operates against
all visa issuing processes, during check-in using Australia's
Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system and is able to
prevent travel by refusing boarding permission.
Immigration also coordinates the Regional Movement Alert
System (RMAS) - a joint system shared between Australia, the
US and New Zealand and focused on lost and stolen travel
B. Traveler Information Collection:
Customs and Border Protection uses Passenger Name Record
(PNR) information from airlines' reservation and departure
control systems to risk assess passengers before arrival.
Analysis of PNR and other relevant data plays a critical role
in the identification of possible persons of interest in the
context of counter-terrorism, drug trafficking, identity
fraud, people smuggling and other serious transnational
crimes. PNR data provided by airlines includes name and
address details, ticketing, check in, seating, form of
payment, travel itinerary and baggage information. PNR
information is shared with other Australian government
agencies within the confines of Australia's privacy
legislation and obligations under international treaties.
In addition to PNR data, Customs and Border Protection
receives advance passenger information (API) data from the
Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) for most
passengers and crew. This data includes information on
identity, passports, other travel documents and flight
details. For military and charter flight operators that are
not subscribers to the DIAC system, this information is
provided directly to Customs and Border Protection. Australia
implemented mandatory API reporting in January 2003 for
operators of international passenger aircraft and cruise
ships traveling to or transiting Australia. In March 2009,
legislative amendments introduced provisions that enable
infringement notices to be issued, in lieu of prosecution, to
air and sea carriers that breach mandatory API reporting
requirements. This measure seeks to strengthen the integrity
of Australia's borders and to provide carriers an option to
improve compliance without resorting to court action. This
infringement regime will be implemented during 2009-10.
C. Border Control and Screening:
Customs and Border Protection officers exercise a diverse
range of powers, the authority for which is legislatively
based. TQe powers are directed to the agency's border
control and aviation security responsibilities. Customs and
Border Protection officers' powers include powers to
question, search, examine, detain, board and arrest. Customs
and Border Protection is also a clearance authority under
Australia's Migration Act 1958 and performs the clearance
function at airports and ports on behalf of DIAC. Cases of
concern are referred for processing to DIAC specialist staff
who are able to refuse entry clearance to persons of concern
and also initiate more complex responses (for example
protection claims by asylum seekers).
Customs and Border Protection works closely with other border
management agencies including DIAC, Australian Quarantine and
Inspection Service (AQIS), Australian Federal Police (AFP),
the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional
Development and Local Government (Infrastructure) and
intelligence agencies in relation to border control and
As part of Australia's border security management process,
all applicants who apply for an Australian visa are required
to meet relevant health character and security requirements.
In order to facilitate security requirements, DIAC manages
the Security Referral Service (SRS) which provides a systems
connectivity between DIAC and the competent Australian
Some visa applicants undertake in depth security assessments
prior to visa issue.
The SRS has been directly attributed to significant reduction
in average security referral processing times. The SRS also
has well developed reporting mechanisms which allow for
D. Biometric Collection
Through the Australian Passport Office, the Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) provides passport services
to Australians. In 2005, Australia committed 67.5 million
dollars to the development of Biometric technology in the
Australian Passport, including a Facial Recognition system to
support biometric matching. Since October 2005, all
Australian ePassports contain a chip which stores the
applicant's personal data (i.e. name, date of birth,
nationality and passport number). It also holds a photo of
the applicant that can be used for facial recognition, which
is the primary biometric identifier used in Australian border
management processes. As at May 2009, over 11 million
biometric images are stored within the DFAT Facial
Recognition system and 4.9 million ePassports are in
circulation (approx 49 percent of total passports in
Australia's automated border control system, SmartGate, is a
program that allows ePassports to be read at kiosks which
utilize facial recognition to process travelers. Smartgate
has now been deployed for arriving Australian and New Zealand
ePassport holders, over 18 years of age, at five of
Australia's international airports. SmartGate kiosks have
also been installed at Auckland International Airport in New
Zealand to allow eligible travelers to complete the first
step in border processing prior to departing for Australia.
DIAC currently collects fingerprints from persons in
immigration detention, including illegal foreign fishers.
All Australian Passports have chips that comply with
standards sets by the International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO). In addition to basic access control, the
N Series Passport (released in May 2009) incorporates Active
Authentication technology to detect attempts to fraudulently
clone or copy the chip. The data contained on the chip can be
accessed only after the Machine Readable Zone at the base of
the document has been successfully read.
As part of the chip writing process, the information on the
chip is "signed" using a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI)
certificate and a copy of the public certificate is then
written to the chip. The chip is then locked to prevent
tampering. Any tampering with the chip would be detected
through the certificate validation process. The Customs
SmartGate border system also uses this technology to validate
Australian ePassports at the border.
Replacement passports are issued for full validity. According
to DFAT, if an Australian citizen qualifies for a passport he
rightly qualifies for full validity. In cases where an
applicant's citizenship is not in question but they fail to
meet the requirements for full validity, a limited validly
emergency passport can be issued. These passports contain
only a few visa pages, are normally valid for seven months
and contain no chip.
- Repeat passport losers pay a fee for each lost passport in
a 5 year period. The fee for the first lost passport is 69
dollars, the second is 208 dollars, the third 416 dollars and
the fourth 416 plus a replacement valid for only five years.
This is in addition to normal processing fees.
- There is no difference in appearance or size of replacement
- GOA has not/not noticed a trend towards "clean" passports.
F. Fraud Detection
The Passport Fraud Section (PFS) of the Australian Passport
Office retains fraudulent and damaged documents for
examination and analysis of trends. PFS has established an
electronic register to assist this analysis. Some fraudulent
documents are retained for training and exhibit purposes.
Others deemed to have no future value are destroyed.
DIAC maintains forensic document examiners at all major ports
of entry and also trains its Airline Liaison Officers
(stationed at major hubs off-shore), overseas compliance
officers (stationed at diplomatic posts) and border personnel
from regional countries to facilitate more effective
detection of fraudulent travel documents.
DIAC also maintains a global intelligence database (IMtel).
This provides access to all DIAC staff (including off-shore)
to document alerts, fraud reporting, general immigration
intelligence and analytical reports generated by DIAC staff
or received from allied countries. IMtel also provides
real-time analytical tools and supports global working on
cases of concern.
G. Freedom of Information
Intelligence and security agencies are exempt from
Australia's Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).
Documents that have originated with, or been received from,
certain agencies, such as the Australian Security
Intelligence Organization (ASIO), are exempt from this
legislation. (Such documents, however, fall within the public
access regime of the Archives Act 1983 once they reach 30
years old; and while exemptions may be sought, they are
subject to a statutory appeal process.) Agencies that are
subject to the FOI Act must respond to FOI requests, in
accordance with the provisions of that legislation.
Decisions to refuse access to documents can be subject to
internal review by the agency and then external review.
Non-citizens can make requests under the FOI Act. However,
one of the requirements for a valid FOI request is an address
in Australia for the service of documents.
Further information on the FOI Act, including proposed
reforms, is available from the Australian Government
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet's website
The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) gives effect to
Australia's obligations under Article 17 of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as its
agreement to implement Guidelines adopted in 1980 by the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
for the Protection of Privacy and Trans-border Flows of
Personal Data. It applies to residents, both citizens and
non-citizens alike and to both the public and private
sectors. Most State and both Territory Governments have their
Qsectors. Most State and both Territory Governments have their
own privacy laws.
The Act provides for the protection of personal information
in the possession of federal government departments and
agencies and private sector organizations with an annual
turnover of $3m . It gives individuals a right to know what
information an agency or organization holds about them and a
right to correct that information if it is wrong; and it
provides for complaints handling and allows for the Privacy
Commissioner to make determinations, including for
compensation, where breaches of privacy are found.
The Privacy Commissioner also has functions in the areas of
credit reporting, data matching, and spent convictions.
The Australian Government is currently considering
recommendations to reform the Privacy Act and will respond in
two stages over the next two years (2010-11).
3. (SBU) FURTHER INFORMATION ON IMMIGRATION PROCESSES
Australia has a non-discriminatory immigration program and a
universal visa system that requires all non-citizens to
obtain a visa before entering Australia. Visitors to
Australia from the United States and some thirty other
countries are eligible to apply for an Electronic Travel
Authorization (ETA) through a travel agent, airline,
Australian visa office, or other approved service provider.
In certain cases, the application may be completed online.
The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship
(DIAC) is the competent authority for issuing visas.
When entering Australia, the Australian Migration Act 1958
requires citizens and non-citizens to identify themselves to
a clearance authority and to provide certain information in
order to enter Australia. This process is designed to
regulate the entry of people to Australia and to ensure that
those who enter have the authority to do so, that they are
who they claim to be, and that they provide other information
Under this process, the clearance authority examines a
person's authority to enter Australia and checks that the
person is an Australian citizen, a visa holder or a person
eligible for a visa in immigration as well as the person's
The Australian Migration Act 1958 allows for fines of up to
AUD $10,000 for the master, owner, agent, charter and
operator or agent of a vessel that carries any non-visaed
person to Australia. As a matter of policy, DIAC may issue
infringement notices for up to AUD $5000 for the same
offense, where organized malpractice is not an issue.
In March 2009, legislative amendments introduced provisions
that enable infringement notices to be issued, in lieu of
prosecution, to air and sea carriers that breach mandatory
API reporting requirements. This measure seeks to strengthen
the integrity of Australia's borders and to provide carriers
an option to improve compliance without resorting to court
action. From l July 2009, this infringement regime will be
implemented in respect of airlines that fail to provide
advance reports on airline passengers and crew. The
implementation date for cruise ships is to be confirmed.
Australia's border management system is based on a number of
'layers', as follows:
1) Australia's Universal Visa System
Australia's universal visa system is the first line of
defense against the entry of people who pose a security,
criminal or health risk. All non-citizens are required to
hold a current visa to enter and stay in Australia.
2) Overseas Compliance Officers (OSCOs)
OSCOs are specialist immigration compliance officers
located in high immigration risk regions overseas whose job
is to identify and respond to immigration malpractice. They
work closely with visa officers to detect and combat fraud
in visa caseloads. As at 1 June 2009, there are 28 OSCOs at
21 posts in 18 countries.
3) Immigration Alert Checking
The Movement Alert List (MAL) is DIAC's principal
electronic alert system and forms an integral part of
Australia's national security and border control strategy.
MAL consists of a Person Alert List (PAL) and a
Document Alert List (DAL).
The purpose of MAL is to alert DIAC's decision makers
to information the Department holds about an individual
during the processing of visa and citizenship applications,
passenger processing at overseas check-in points (eg.
airports) and immigration clearance at the Australian border.
As at the end of May 2009, there were approximately
700,000 identities listed on the PAL. People may be listed on
MAL when they have serious criminal records. Other
people listed include those whose presence in Australia may
constitute a risk to the Australian community and people who
may not enter Australia as they are subject to exclusion
periods prescribed by migration legislation. This can occur
for a number of reasons, including health concerns,
debts owed to the Commonwealth or other adverse immigration
As at the end of May 2009, there were about 1.85
million documents (i.e. lost, stolen or fraudulently altered
are also recorded on the DAL.
Details identifying people of concern are recorded on
MAL as a result of the Department's liaison with law
enforcement agencies and departmental offices in Australia
Central MAL (CMAL) ensures that the management of the
MAL, and the matching of potential visa and citizenship
applicants against individuals and/or documents of concern on
the PAL or DAL, is undertaken in a purpose designed center
of excellence using specialized analysts, state of the art
technology and the most sophisticated name search
software, operating 24/7. CMAL ensures:
- All clients are checked against the most up to date
version of the movement alert list, at the time of
application instead of after a visa has been granted.
- That there is a once-only need for human assessment
of possible MAL matches for each client unless new
information is received.
- That DIAC decision makers now receive a visible, up
to date MAL Status for each client in the Department's
visa/citizenship processing systems in real time. If there is
a MAL true match a decision on entry is taken by the
Department in consultation with any other relevant agency.
The Regional Movement Alert System (RMAS) enables
participating APEC economies to verify the status of
passports in real-time at the source, alerting the relevant
agencies if action is required. These checks are conducted in
real-time against passport databases owned and managed
by the respective document issuing authorities of the
participating APEC economies. RMAS is an initiative of the
APEC Business Mobility Group. It currently involves
Australia, the United States of America and New Zealand.
4) Advance Passenger Processing (APP)
Australia's Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system
is the next layer in Australia's approach to border
management. Under this system, all airlines and cruise ships
must provide DIAC with information on all passengers and
crew, including transit passengers, traveling to or via
Australia, as required under the Migration Act. This
information is collected at check-in through the APP system
and is transmitted to Australia for use by border
agencies prior to the arrival of the vessel. The data
transmitted to Australia is cross-checked against
Australia's immigration databases, as well as alert systems
such as DAL and RMAS.
The APP system also assists airlines by enabling them
to check if a passenger has authority to travel to
Australia, such as a valid visa or Australian passport. This
helps to reduce the incidence of airlines carrying
inadmissible or inadequately documented passengers to
APP checking occurred in about 99.8 per cent of all
passenger and crew air arrivals during 2007-08. Since 2004,
international cruise ships have used the APP system to check
more than 174,000 passengers and 98,000 crew. This
represents over 99 per cent of cruise ship arrivals with only
minor administrative errors affecting 100 per cent
compliance. During 2007-08, more than 55,900 passengers and
31,000 crew were APP reported by cruise ships.
5) Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs)
ALOs play a key role in protecting Australia's borders
by preventing and deterring irregular movement of people
in the region. ALOs conduct document screening of many
Australia-bound passengers at key international gateways.
They also provide advice to airlines and host governments on
passenger documentation issues, and by their visible
presence, deter the activities of those involved in people
smuggling. ALOs assist airline check-in staff with
training and advice about Australia's entry requirements.
There are currently (as at October 2008) 18 ALOs at 11
overseas locations, although this number remains flexible
to enable response to changing situations. In 2007-08,
Australian ALOs interdicted 143 irregularly documented
6) Immigration Inspectors at Australia's Border
In Australia's layered approach to border processing,
the border is the final point at which a person's identity
and authority to remain in Australia can be confirmed prior
to their entry into the community.
Upon arrival at Australia's border, the Migration Act
1958 requires citizens and non-citizens to identify
themselves to a clearance authority and provide certain
information to enter Australia. This process is designed
to regulate the entry of people to Australia and to ensure
that those who enter have the authority to do so, that
they are who they claim to be and that they provide other
information if required.
In 2007-08, there were a total of 25.7 million
passenger and crew arrivals and departures. This figure
comprises 23.6 million air passengers, 1.3 million air
crew, 90,000 sea passengers and 700,000 sea crew. 1,612
people were refused entry at Australia's air and
seaports during 2007-08.
4. (C) There are no political barriers to further cooperation
with the U.S. with regard to data sharing between GOA and the
U.S.; the program is in place and active. GOA legal system
offers sufficient safeguards for the protection and
non-disclosure of information. Information sharing between
GOA agencies is consistent with information sharing between
government agencies in the U.S.
5. (C) GOA defines terrorism under section 100.1 of the
criminal code as an act done or a threat made with the
intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological
cause; and the act is done or the threat is made with the
intention of coercing, or influencing by intimidation, the
government of the Commonwealth or a State, Territory or
foreign country, or intimidating the public or a section of