Australian Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop is looking at trialling passport-less travel and she predicts it could go global.
Bishop told Australian reporters that the idea of a cloud passport, where a traveller’s identity and biometrics data would be stored in a cloud, came out of a hipster-style-hackathon held at the Department of Foreign Affairs.
She said Australia and New Zealand were in discussions about trialling the cloud passports, which would need to meet a high-level of security requirements.
Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said Bishop’s announcement was a “bolt out of the blue” given he had suggested the idea a few months ago but nothing had come from it.
“As I understand it New Zealand and Australia had at best a couple of high-level conversations on a ‘what-if’ basis.”
“I suggested we should be thinking about passport-free travel and then the next thing I heard was the announcement out of Australia yesterday,” he said.
The idea poaching is reminiscent of previous Australian claims to what was originally New Zealand’s, such as race horse Phar Lap and pavlova, Dunne joked.
Some European countries already used biometrics and data sharing to enter in and out of countries, for example Ireland had a “credit card-style passport”, he said.
“As to how we would activate the system I’m not entirely sure.”
Security would need to be considered and it wouldn’t be a case of moving to a system as simple as “walking off a plane and straight through the airport like a domestic flight,” Dunne said.
The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has discussed the cloud passport idea at a conceptual level with Australia.
“It’s an interesting idea, which we will continue to watch. However, we are not aware of any plans for New Zealand to move this way,” a DIA spokeswoman said.