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A new international agreement will boost Australia’s ability to detect and identify immigration fraud and cast a wider net when checking the backgrounds of unauthorised arrivals and other people held in immigration detention.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said today that an agreement for biometric data-sharing between Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom was signed last night. Under the partnership, Australia will be able to securely and confidentially cross check fingerprints with Canadian and UK databases.

Currently, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship collects fingerprints from all people in immigration detention, including irregular arrivals and illegal foreign fishers. It is expected fingerprint collection will be progressively rolled out to other people in the immigration caseload in the future.

‘The Australian Government’s ability to detect immigration and identity fraud will be greatly improved as a result of new biometric data-sharing arrangements with partner agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom,’ Senator Evans said. ‘This data-sharing will help to establish the true identities of unknown people, and ensure that fraudulent cases are dealt with appropriately through the improved ability to detect inconsistent identity and immigration claims.

It will also help authorities to increase the chance of detecting people with criminal histories and other people of concern, aid in the timely removal of unlawful non-citizens where their identities and/or nationalities were previously unknown or uncertain, and improve detection of fraudulent immigration practices and trends.

The new biometric data-sharing plan was developed at the Five Country Conference, which is a forum on immigration and border security between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. The US is expected to join the data-sharing arrangement in due course.

The benefits of international biometric data sharing were highlighted recently when an individual claiming asylum in the UK was found to have previously been fingerprinted in the USA while travelling on an Australian passport.

The individual was subsequently confirmed as an Australian citizen wanted for sexual assault. The man was removed to Australia to face court, and is now serving a jail sentence.

Senator Evans said the new data-sharing arrangements would not affect privacy laws.

‘The protection of personal information is important to all the countries involved in these arrangements. All data shared by my department will adhere to the Privacy Act 1988,’ the minister said.

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The latest in a series of destructive cold fronts slammed into WA overnight, causing destructive winds, rain and hail storms.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning at 6.45am, following similar warnings issued throughout the weekend.

Waves from the Swan River are washing onto the Kwinana Freeway north of Canning Highway citybound. There is also flooding on Beaufort Street in Inglewood heading into the city and on Riverside Drive.

Traffic lights are blacked out at the Great Eastern Highway and Bolton Road intersection in Burswood.

The front is the most severe of a series that have descended on WA over the past few days.

A wind gust of 115kmh was recorded at Rottnest Island about 6am today, and the Bureau is warning people to expect winds up to 100kmh with potentially damaging gusts reaching 125kmh this morning.

Alex Krisman from WeatherZone said Cape Naturaliste (109kmh) and Cape Leeuwin (104kmh) also recorded heavy gusts of wind – which coincided with a line of lightning flashes- at the same time as Rottnest Island.

Winds at Perth Airport hit 83kmh while the Perth metropolitan area clocked speeds up to 72kmh at 5.50am.

Rainfall was heavy, particularly across the south west. So far, Bridgetown has had 32mm from 9am yesterday morning.

Thunderstorms and heavy showers are forecast for today, particularly over the Lower West, South-West and South Coastal districts.

Abnormally high tides are set to cause flooding in low-lying coastal areas.

A gale warning has been issued from Kalbarri right through to the South Australian border.

Surfers are being warned to brace for heavy conditions, which are likely to cause significant beach erosion.

The State Emergency Service has warned people to secure loose objects, move vehicles under cover and stay inside away from windows.

People caught outdoors should find shelter away from trees, powerlines, storm water drains and streams. Boat owners should make sure their boats are securely moored.

Source  :   www.watoday.com.au

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