23 October 2018 -- Note Printing Australia today staged a celebration event to mark the production of 25 Million ePassport books. Special guest Ross Tysoe, Executive Director of the Australian Passport Office, thanked “the whole NPA team that puts together our world-leading book which reflects the excellent relationship we have enjoyed with NPA over the L, M, N, and P series.”
The start of NPA’s passport production journey began in 2003 when the organisation moved from the security printing of passport pages to securing the job of assembling the whole book. Within a short period of time, it was also learned that Australia had to deliver a biometrically-enabled passport within two years in order to maintain its US visa waiver status. Furthermore, with inventory of the previous passport series running low, it was learned there was no fall back to anything other than the successful delivery of the project.
Such were the challenges of developing the new security printing capability within this pressured timeframe, former Head of Passports Ashley Hannon, who was reflecting on NPA’s journey with the audience, joked that “in the early days, we were happy to get 25 ePassport books through our machine let alone 25 million!”
Yet the organisation and its highly motivated passports team were successful in delivering the world’s first ICAO-compliant passport book, and was one of only a handful of countries to meet the tight US deadline. In moving from strength to strength, Ashley discussed a range of innovative improvements made over the years including the introduction of in-line electronic chip readers and changes in adhesives and other security upgrades that have led to the book being considered one of the best in its class.
“The book is incredible. It’s so tight and so good that we no longer worry about forgery of the book itself. In fact there has been no credible attack on the ePassport,” said Ross.
In congratulating DFAT on their success with the ePassport program, NPA’s CEO Malcolm McDowell said “Millions of Australians have relied on this book for safe and unhindered travel, and as a symbol of the nation the integrity and security of this book speaks for itself.”
In presenting a framed intaglio plate with a message of appreciation to the APO, NPA’s Chairman Chris Aylmer said “It’s pleasing to know that while the APO is a leader in digital traveller systems, it also has a long term commitment to the provision of the passport book.”
Ashley Hannon summed up the experience when he concluded his speech by saying, “To successfully produce 25 million ePassports has not only been the result of continual process improvement and innovation, but also the dedication of the Passport staff who own the process and are accountable for quality. They have shown over the years that they are eager to adopt new processes and to succeed. The production of the 25 million books has been a true team effort.”