Almost 38,000 Australian passports went missing last year.
Reports that two of the 239 people aboard a missing Malaysia Airlines flight were travelling on stolen passports has fuelled terrorism fears. The episode has also highlighted flaws in global passport and airport security.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says 37,720 Australian passports were reported lost or stolen in the 2012-13 financial year. The vast majority – about 75 per cent – went missing on Australian soil. Most of the others went missing in popular tourist locations like Paris, Madrid, Rome, London, Los Angeles and Bangkok. The nearly 38,000 missing passports account for 0.3 per cent of those currently on issue – 12 million – and is in line with previous years.
“The Australian Passport Office takes the matter of lost and stolen passports seriously and takes measures to prevent their possible misuse,” a DFAT spokesperson said.
All passports reported missing are immediately cancelled and reported to Interpol. New laws in 2005 introduced a range of fees and sanctions for people whose passports are lost or stolen in an effort to encourage them to better protect the documents. All passports issued since October 2005 have included a secure chip – which cannot be rewritten or altered – that includes a digital copy of the passport photo. – AAP