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The future of our immigration and citizenship systems
Now that we are in the caretaker period, I should like to share with you my views about
what needs to be done with our aging visa and citizenship systems. The Government is
committed to the solution represented by the Global Digital Platform, which is currently
the subject of a tender process.
The Opposition has stated publicly that it strongly opposes the privatisation of Australia’s
visa processing system.
As public servants, we are strictly neutral and we wil implement the policy of the
Government of the day. Here is my view on some basic facts, which independently exist,
irrespective of which party is in power. The volumes of visas that we issue each year
continues to increase, as a result of the growth in the numbers of people coming here for
tourism, temporary work, study and to make Australia their home. This increasing
volume, coupled with our changing risk environment, places increasing pressure on our
aged systems, which wil not be able to keep up with that growth.
Whether the capital to fund a new immigration and citizenship system is privately-
financed or otherwise, is not a matter for me or the Department. The Government of the
day wil decide that issue, as it wil the final form and design of the future system.
As I said at the Senate Estimates hearing on Monday 8 April 2019, my preference as
Secretary, subject of course to the final view of the Government of the day, is to automate
our manual processes wherever we can, reduce the administrative cost entailed in
processing each visa, and – most importantly – concentrate the same number of staff (or
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preferably an increased number of staff) on higher value-added roles, such as status
resolution of people in the legacy caseload; dealing with human trafficking and migrant
exploitation; and working with other departments on the economic and social benefits of
migration. Our people, who are our key asset, should be focused on decision-making, risk
assessment and complex case engagement where human engagement with applicants is
Working together, across the Department and the ABF, we wil put a range of options to
the government of the day, regarding the funding of a major capital upgrade of our
systems, where we have the same number of officers, or preferably more, engaged on
those higher value tasks, while at the same time automating wherever possible more
manual administrative tasks, such as data entry.
I look forward to the ongoing contributions from staff into the design of our future
systems, processes and practices, drawing on their deep knowledge and experience.