Australian passport applications to be fast-tracked under new changes

Dylan Caporn and Katina Curtis
The Nightly
2 Min Read
One of the lesser trumpeted features of the Federal Budget was a major change to the way passports are processed in Australia, which is expected to net the Government more than $27 million.
One of the lesser trumpeted features of the Federal Budget was a major change to the way passports are processed in Australia, which is expected to net the Government more than $27 million. Credit: Dan Peled/AAP

Australians wanting a quick turnaround on a new passport will soon be able to get their travel documents faster — for a fee.

The fast-track process, which will become available from July 1, will give applicants their passports within five business days, for an additional fee of $100.

Currently, passport applications can take weeks, with only eligible applicants able to apply for a priority process.

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The measure, announced in Tuesday’s Federal Budget, will net the Government an additional $27.4 million over the next five years.

The Budget, unveiled on Tuesday, $7.8 billion more right now to help out with power bills, the cost of medicines and rent and an eye to establishing Australia as a clean energy powerhouse.

The Budget also contains cost-of-living relief including tax cuts, power bill rebates and a freeze on medicine prices, along with a large package aimed at kickstarting clean energy industries such as critical minerals processing and green hydrogen.

But the Treasurer also handed down a set of books with $122.1 billion in deficits over the next four years, sluggish economic growth and ambitious inflation projections.

There are also billions of dollars for housing and health and a push to get thousands of more people into university or vocational education.

The Budget is not tipped to return to balance until 2034-35 despite Dr Chalmers’ insistence the Government had shown a willingness “to chip away at this problem over time”.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 14: Australia’s Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivers his budget speech at Parliament House on May 14, 2024 in Canberra, Australia. Australia's Labor government is grappling with a slowing economy, weaker commodity prices, soaring housing costs and a softening labor market as it prepares to unveil its federal budget on May 14. To counter these headwinds, the budget is expected to feature smaller revenue upgrades compared to recent years, while outlining the government's interventionist policies aimed at boosting domestic manufacturing and the transition to green energy. Critics warn that such industrial policies risk fueling inflation and diverting resources from more productive sectors of the economy. The budget is seen as a key opportunity for the Labor government to deliver broad economic support that analysts say is fundamental to re-election chances next year. (Photo by Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images)
Treasurer Jim Chalmers delivers his budget speech at Parliament House on Tuesday night. Credit: Tracey Nearmy/Getty Images

But it wasn’t all big-ticket announcements.

Some, like a cut to the sweet potato tax and funding for clearer labelling of vegan protein products, slipped through with very little fanfare.

As did the government’s announcement it would slash its spending on consultants engaged by the public service, estimating savings of $1 billion over the next four years from 2024, on top of $4 billion saved from 2022.

The Budget also flagged changinglawsto allow the ATO to stop chasing down historical tax debts, while allocating $2.2 million to the public service for AI projects and to enhance the quality of data that informs policy analysis.

The government also looked beyond Australia’s borders, spending $20.7 million over the next five years from 2023 on “a new agenda for bilateral cooperation” — read: a play at repairing the severed diplomatic friendship — between Australia and France.

Also sliding under the radar was spending on road safety and upgrades, combating online scammers and fraudsters, and boosts to superannuation for government-funded parental leave, as well as women’s heath and safety initiatives.

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