Travel documents of people transiting Australian ports undergo comprehensive and growing scrutiny, the federal government says.
As global authorities investigate the backgrounds and connections of 239 people on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, a spotlight has been shone on border security practices.
Australia, a member of the Regional Movement Alert List, exchanges information about questionable travel documents with the United States and New Zealand, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says.
The system will soon be expanded to include the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia, the minister told a tourism and travel forum in Canberra on Wednesday.
Airline liaison officers based overseas worked to check the identities of travellers bound for Australia and there was a “rigorous infringement regime that penalises airlines which persist in carrying improperly documented passengers”.
Mr Morrison said various initiatives culminated in an “exhaustive border management and security system” for Australia.
“My first priority will always be the maintenance of the integrity of these systems and safety of the Australian public,” Mr Morrison said.
“No program or policy will be pursued at the risk of our nation’s security.”
The government has forwarded to investigators details of the six Australians who were on board MH370.
“We have received passenger background checks from all countries apart from (the) Ukraine and Russia,” Malaysia’s acting transport minister Hishammuddin Hussein told reporters on Wednesday.
“So far no information of significance on any passenger has been found.”
Checks will extend to ground staff linked to MH370.
Mr Hussein was quick to insist that all passengers and crew “remain innocent until proven otherwise”.