By Darryl Mason
From smh.com.au :
Were those Australian passports issued recently, or, more likely, between 1997 and 2002?
Police have 15 more suspects in the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai, including three who were allegedly travelling on Australian passports, CNN reported last night.
The network reported police as saying that among the new suspects are six more people who are accused of using British passports in the commission of the crime, four others using Irish passports, two other French passport holders and three people, including a woman, travelling on Australian passports.
The Department of Foreign Affairs was unavailable for comment last night.
From Lateline, April 28, 2005, when Alexander Downer was foreign minister :
HAMISH FITZSIMMONS: Labor says more than 2000 Australian passports went missing between 1997 and 2002 when the Government dropped requirements for them to be sent out by certified mail. The trade in counterfeit identification is big business and in high demand. In the last year police broke up two major fake identity scams in NSW alone. A national identity card to bring uniformity to the identification process which currently differs from state to state has been proposed as an additional way of fighting ID fraud.The incredible fact that thousands of Australian passports went missing back then was quickly hosed down by the Howard government.
Alexander Downer, April 28, 2005 :
"The fact they've gone missing doesn't mean they've ended up in the hands of crooks who've been using those passports," he said.
"I think you'll find that if there is any passport that has gone missing and the person you send it to hasn't received the passport, the probability is around 100 per cent that they would report that and then you can obviously cancel that passport.
"I mean, it's not a major problem."Will the Rudd government make as big a deal of all those missing passports now, as they did back in 2005?
UPDATE : News.com.au is running this image on its story about the Australian passports used by Mossad assassins in Dubai :
And names two other Australian passport holders - Adam Marcus Korman and Bruce Joshua Daniel - as suspects listed by Dubai as part of a "logistical support team" in the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a military leader of the Hamas government.
Kevin Rudd on radio earlier today :
"...any state which has been complicit in the abuse of the Australian passport system is treating Australia with contempt."For now at least, Dubai is claiming the passports are not forgeries.
UPDATE : Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt appears to be still paying off his free trip to Israel last year. Here's how he sums up international reaction to this episode of identity theft and "state sponsored terrorism" (in the words of UK prime minister Gordon Brown) :