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Immigration Security tightened, Melbourne Seaport

Minister Checks Immigration Security at Melbourne Seaport

Crew on container ships will be subject to electronic clearance before arrival at Australian sea ports from March 2006, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Senator Amanda Vanstone said today.

This represents yet another layer of security for arrivals by sea - in line with measures which have been in place for air arrivals for some time.

‘To be introduced in March 2006, the use of the Advance Passenger Processing (APP) system on container ships will allow immigration officials to determine if people have the correct visa or authority to enter before they arrive,’ Senator Vanstone said.

‘APP is an additional check to those conducted against a database of persons and documents of concern at the point of granting a visa. For airlines, this will generally prevent boarding. For sea crew, it allows checks being made which could result in crew being confined on board the ship or other security measures being put in place.

‘The Australian Government takes issues of security very seriously, and these arrangements are a preventative measure to ensure the continued integrity of our borders,’ Senator Vanstone said.

‘During the 2004-05 financial year the department refused entry to 2058 people at Australia’s borders.

‘Where there are concerns about a person’s entry to Australia, APP allows immigration officers to restrict crew on board their vessel and prevent them from going ashore in Australia.

‘APP was made mandatory for international cruise ships in January 2004 and accessed by ships through a new internet-based APP system that makes it easier for ships’ masters and agents to report on crew when a vessel is on its way to Australia.

‘During the most recent cruise ship season from August 2004 to April 2005, APP reporting screened around 13 000 crew and more than 23 000 passengers.

‘The Government continues to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of maritime security measures.

‘My Department is working very closely with the maritime industry and Australian shipping agents to ensure that APP in shipping has the same success as in the airline industry.

‘All airlines now flying into Australia use the APP system and last financial year, over 9 million passengers were processed as they travelled to Australia.

‘In addition to increasing security measures, APP pre-arrival assessment will also facilitate the clearance of participants and visitors coming to Australia for the Commonwealth Games in March 2006.’

© Scoop Media

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