On receipt of a request from a competent authority, section 16 of the Act allows a delegated officer to consider refusing to issue an Australian passport to a person who owes money to the Commonwealth.

Competent authorities for this purpose are persons who have the authority to lend money to the debtor on behalf of the Commonwealth. The Minister has delegated his refusal/cancellation powers under this section of the Act to a number of officers. For administrative efficiency the Director Passport Policy and Operations undertakes this function.

In cases involving compassionate circumstances (death or serious illness of an immediate family member) or adverse effects to the debtor’s welfare, the issue of a travel document may be approved by an officer delegated by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, see ‘Australian Passports Act 2005 – Authorisations and Delegations’.

Cases involving unusual and extenuating circumstances outside these provisions may be referred to the Passport Policy and Operations Section for consideration.