New Zealand's border security is under threat from an immigration computer system that is close to collapse, briefing notes to the new Government reveal.
The immigration service, which sits within the Labour Department, has come under attack in recent years for lax border security that has allowed several undesirable immigrants enter the country.
The Labour Department briefing to incoming ministers, released today, acknowledged the need to improve Immigration New Zealand's handling of security threats, other risks, decision making and marketing.
But that was made difficult by its computer system, which was designed in the 1990s - predating wide use of the internet.
"These challenges come at a time when our immigration ICT systems are at risk of failure and do not appropriately support decision making or manage risk or security issues."
Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman today said he was already working with officials to address critical issues such as the service's outdated computer systems.
"It's clear that their systems are going to need some upgrading and we're going to have to find a feasible and affordable option to provide the level of service the public expect," he told NZPA.
The service came under fire two years ago after its systems failed to identify and stop at the border Yemeni national Rayed Mohammed Abdullah Ali, who had links to the 9/11 terror attacks, despite the links coming up with a simple Google search.
A year earlier the Government ordered all immigration approvals relating to applications from 46 "high risk" countries to be made within New Zealand following several allegations of failures in offshore processing.
The Labour Department, which also oversees ACC, also reveals in its briefing that big cost pressures in the corporation's accounts are likely to continue into the future.
ACC Minister Nick Smith last week revealed a four-year $1.2 billion blowout in the non-earners account, as well as a three-year $1.3 billion blowout in the earners account.
He said Labour Department officials had recommended an almost 60 per cent rise in the earners levy over the next three years - costing an average wage earner about $7 a week - to pay for the increase.
The briefing said the Government's liability had risen by 16 per cent in the year to June 30, 2008 and cost pressures in the portfolio were likely to continue.
"These costs have continued to increase and are expected to grow even more rapidly in the future."