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Australian focus on illegal airline passengers

Airlines bringing passengers to Australia without proper documentation will pay a higher price from 1 July with infringement penalties increasing from $3,000 to $5,000, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Philip Ruddock said today.

"This increase will bring the penalty in line with similar penalties in other comparable countries," Mr Ruddock said.

"Penalties, in the range of $A3,000 to $A5,000, are levied by a number of other countries, including the UK, Canada and the USA.

"Opportunities are available for airlines to minimise their infringement penalties by improving their check-in procedures to detect illegal passengers, and by checking passengers against departmental systems," Mr Ruddock said.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) has actively encouraged airlines to link to their systems and to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure a cooperative partnership in deterring people smuggling.

"We want airlines to link to DIMA systems so that a passenger's visa, ETA or passport status can be confirmed by the airline during check-in and the information forwarded to Australia for pre-arrival checks,". Mr Ruddock said.

"This type of system has been adopted by Qantas, Ansett, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand.

"I would encourage other airlines to also commit to these systems so that together we can reduce the number of illegal passengers reaching our borders," Mr Ruddock said.

MPS 066/2000

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