Deputy Foreign Secretary Tim Watts blamed the previous government for the huge backlog of passport applications which resulted in long waiting times for Australians.
Labor MP Tim Watts said the Albanian government had inherited a “significant” backlog of passport applications from its predecessors.
With borders closed for nearly two years due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than two million Australian passports have expired.
Australia’s passport office processed between 7,000 and 9,000 applications a day before the pandemic, but that number has now risen to around 12,000.
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Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell said the government had hired 300 more people to run the hotline, which is due to start next week.
“And they have recruited 1,000 additional staff that they are training to help with passport processing over the next few weeks,” he said.
“So this situation is expected to improve considerably by September – but in the meantime the advice is that people should try to get their passport applications in more than six weeks before traveling and if you have young children, get those requests in even sooner.
Mr Watts, however, said the backlogs were completely avoidable, pointing the finger at the previous government.
“If the previous government had started planning ahead at the beginning of the year when they saw all those passports allowed to expire, all those passport renewal applications that weren’t coming in during the pandemic,” said Mr Watts at Sky News. Australian Kieran Gilbert.
“Unfortunately, this is a problem that has been accumulating for several months now.”
He warned that the backlog is not going away anytime soon.
“While the majority are processed within six weeks, some applications take longer, particularly first-time passport applications and passport applications for children,” he said.
“It’s a backlog that’s not going away anytime soon.”
The delays threaten to undo holiday plans for thousands of people.
Some desperate to travel abroad have received no updates on their requests and have been unable to contact the office by phone.