Australia’s immigration system requires a “big dollars” IT investment to reduce its reliance on paper, “human judgement and intervention”, Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil said.
Speaking on Radio National Breakfast on Friday, O’Neil said that a visa processing backlog in 2022 had exposed frailties in the “virtually paper-based” processing system.
She said that when Labor came into office in June, there were “almost a million applications unprocessed in the system and no plan to deal with that”.
O’Neil said the government had 150 staff “working overtime” to clear the backlog, and had onboarded 180 more people to speed up processing times.
However, investment in IT systems to aid processing would ultimately be required.
“There’s a lot of human involvement in visa processing which is unnecessary and that’s because we have not invested in the system properly,” O’Neil said.
“We do need to make an investment in the IT system.”
However, O’Neil suggested the project would be large, complex and expensive, and that would likely delay a timeline for it.
“It’ll be big dollars,” she said. “It’s probably some way into the future.”
The funding would not be contained in a budget update that is due to be handed down on October 22, she added.