Subjects: $93.7 million investment in 'Seamless Traveller' initiative.
Australian Border Force is one of the world leading customs agencies – Border Protection agencies – and I'm really proud that we're rolling out $78 million worth of new technology which will help people, both inbound and outbound at our airports and seaports, to make the transition in a much easier way.
We want to make it simpler for passengers going out of the country, coming into the country, to make it a seamless entry and exit and the technology that we want to embrace will be world class and world leading. At the same time as we want to get the technology right for passengers, we also want to get it right for our national security needs and the use of biometrics, the use of facial recognition, all of the technology world class that's available to us now, is going to be embraced by Australian Border Force.
Australia Border Force is staffed by world leading professionals and we've seen already in recent times the number of people that have been stopped by our Counter Terrorism Unit officers at our international airports, the work that has already been done, both in terms of inbound and outbound movements. We have a workforce within Australian Border Force that is second to none in the world and this $78 million that we're putting into this new technology will help the Australian Border Force staff, but most importantly, it will help inbound and outbound passengers.
So it is going to be a big boost for our tourism industry in this country. It is going to make it easier for tourists coming in and that means more jobs in local economies across the country and that's what the Turnbull Government is about.
So essentially what will this replace?
This will replace ageing technology. Already we've put a significant amount of investment into the border line and we have with this $78 million, technology that can roll out from mid this year. We're working with the private sector to look at what would be the best solution to allow, and our objective is, to allow 90 per cent plus of people to go seamlessly across our borders. So in many cases that will mean people, whilst they will still have to carry their passport, may not even have to present their passport at all in the long term. But in the immediate term, this will make it easier, it will make it quicker for people going in and out of our airports which is a big win for the tourism industry. It will be a big win there for jobs in regional and coastal areas, but right across the country and this is a big investment in new technology that will help our Border Force staff and will help create new jobs.
Is there a concern that this technology might not be able to pick up, you know, those posing a threat like human interaction would?
This technology will give us a greater cutting edge ability to detect those people who would seek to do us harm. Already we know from the money that we have invested into biometrics collections that that is a much more reliable collection then we have with people just scanning manually passports for example.
So there is the ability through this technology to improve detections of those people that might be coming into our country to do the wrong thing. The beauty of this investment, this technology, is that it not only helps us when we go to the airport to get through the line quicker and in particular when we are coming back in, but also it will help us detect people that are seeking to do the wrong thing and in this day and age, this investment will make it easier for us to detect people who would be seeking to do harm to Australians that would be coming in with terrorist intent or would be involved in transnational crime.
So it's not just about decreasing the time for passengers at our airports, both inbound and outbound, but it is also designed to make our borders even more secure than they are now.
Is this model being based on anything else that is happening around the world?
Well, we are working with the companies to identify the technology which is going to be the best fit for the Australian border. Already this Government has invested significant amounts of money to secure our borders and in this day and age people only need to turn on their television sets of a night time to see the terrorist attacks around the world and we are absolutely determined to work with the Australian Border Force, to invest in Australian Border Force, as well as the Australian Federal Police and our intelligence and law enforcement agencies otherwise, to give our personnel, our staff at the borders the best possible opportunity to defeat that threat and that's what this Government has been about for the last three years and we'll continue to do that to invest in a record way so that we can keep our country safe.
Is this technology being used elsewhere?
We have asked the market to come to us with the technology and the technology that we will embrace will be world class. In some cases it may embrace technology that has been used elsewhere, but the idea of this tender is to pull forward the cutting edge technologies, look at new and innovative ways that people are working on improving both inbound and outbound passenger movements because if we can reduce the times that people wait in queues, it means that they are more inclined to travel both inbound and outbound and it will give our Australian Border Force officers the best chance of detecting threats at our border.
Can you explain the roll out process from here?
Well the $78 million that we are talking about here is a significant investment and the roll out will commence in mid-2017 and it will roll out over the next couple of years.
Already we have been very successful in the technology that we have had, both inbound and outbound, but this is going to invest in new technology. It is of course changing all the time, like any technology that we use at home or in the workplace, so I think we've got an opportunity here to lead the world, but also to work with companies that are looking at new and innovative ways that we can detect threats at the border and also cut down the processing times for people coming inbound and outbound.