9 Apr 2012

Airlines apprehensive about new instant fines

5:32 pm on 9 April 2012

An umbrella group for airlines says new penalties for immigration breaches could hit the airlines hard if they are enforced too harshly.

The Government is introducing a new penalty regime under which airlines that breach the Immigration Act can be immediately fined up to $5000.

Currently, any breaches have to go through a lengthy and costly court process.

The Board of Airline Representatives is apprehensive about the change.

Executive director John Beckett says the new system is unnecessary and could result in airlines being severely punished for minor breaches.

"We're hoping that the Immigration Department can establish some guidelines where the airlines know where they stand and where the discretion will be exercised," he says.

Mr Beckett says if an airline is perfoming well it should not be fined but if an airline is careless it should be brought up smartly.

He says Australia has a system where if an airline is achieving 99.8% accuracy it is not penalised for the other 0.2%.