Brisbane Airport SmartGates suffer another IT outage

Two weeks after the SmartGates to enter Australia went down at Brisbane Airport, another IT issue has repeated the dose for travellers.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

A fortnight to the day after SmartGate failures at Brisbane and Sydney international airport terminals left a trail of confusion and hostility in the wake of an IT outage, Brisbane International Airport is again suffering from a SmartGate outage.

"The Department of Immigration and Border Protection is experiencing IT issues with SmartGate processing at Brisbane International Airport," a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said. "Unfortunately, these IT issues are causing significant delays.

"The department acknowledges the impact this is having on the travelling public, and is working to resolve the issue and process travellers as quickly as possible."

Australian Border Force tweeted at 10.30am that a fix was being worked on "as a priority".

Last month, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection was found by the Full Court of the Australian Federal Court to have conducted a "procedurally unfair" assessment of the impact of a data breach affecting almost 10,000 asylum seekers.

"In cases such as these, involving persons whose claims for protection have failed, the public revelation of their identities that could have been accessed by the very persons from whom the failed protection seeker feared harm, conceivably might have some potential to expose him or her, on refoulement, to what he or she feared," said Justices Rares, Perram, and Griffiths in their unanimous judgment.

The Federal Court stated that the department's conduct in undertaking investigations into the data breach in itself activated its procedural fairness and non-refoulement obligations.

"The conduct of the department was sufficient in itself to trigger an obligation of procedural fairness," the court said.

Justices Rares, Perram, and Griffiths pointed out that it was also a conflict of interest for the department to be assessing whether it had non-refoulement obligations arising out of its own wrongful conduct in the first place.

Yesterday, it was reported by Crikey that the government is attempting to appeal all but one of the rulings to the High Court.

The cases arose out of the department accidentally publishing the details of almost 10,000 asylum seekers in February last year, including their full names, dates of birth, genders, nationalities, periods of immigration detention, locations, boat arrival information, and the reasons why an entrant was classified as having travelled into Australia "unlawfully".

The breach occurred due to a DIBP staff member who had copied and pasted a Microsoft Excel chart into a Word document, with the underlying data rendering the chart in Excel then embedded in the Word document.

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