Queue frozen at Sydney passport office as wait times show no sign of improvement | Australia news

It was seven degrees at 4 am on Tuesday when Nadine Bolton and her husband joined the queue at the Sydney passport office.

They were there to renew their son’s passport before a trip to the Maldives, having submitted their application more than 16 weeks ago.

“The line hasn’t moved at all; I think two people have just gone in, but people are being turned away now. We came here from Newcastle to inquire after 16 weeks of trying to get a passport. So I am not leaving without a passport,” said Bolton as she shielded herself from the cold breeze.

The days may be shorter, and the weather may have gotten a bit chillier, but the wait to get a new passport in Sydney is still just as long. Weeks after the first queues began outside the city’s passport office, the situation remains as dire as ever.

The Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday that more staff and streamlined processes would bbe introduced to cut the wait time from six hours to 90 minutes by the end of the week.

The source told the newspaper that similar changes introduced in Melbourne had reduced wait times from four hours to just 60 minutes. The moves coincide with several new appointments announced last week, including 320 call center workers and 300 processing staff set to start this week.


Travelers lined up for hours outside the Sydney passport office to enquire about or collect their passports. Photograph: Blake Sharp-Wiggins/The Guardian

On the ground, however, there is still very little reprieve from the cold, long waiting lines in sight. At around 8 am on Thursday, the lines at the Sydney office appeared frozen, with very little movement.

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Bar worker Ben Luton skipped a shift to make the journey from Wollongong in a desperate last-ditch attempt to get his passport ahead of a trip to the Netherlands on Friday.

He said he had come to the office “hoping for the best” after multiple attempts to contact the department by phone. “ I was on hold for two and half hours yesterday before they just hung up on me, ” he said, adding that he would drive to the passport office in Canberra if he couldn’t get his passport today.

Last week, the assistant minister for foreign affairs, Tim Watts, said the wait times were due to the previous government’s lack of foresight and planning. However, attempts to remedy the situation have failed to translate into faster and more efficient processing times.

“The state governments can organize to get people’s PCR tests returned in 24 hours, but we can’t get a passport back in three months,” said Brett Newman, who had missed work to to get a passport for his son ahead of a trip to Indonesia in two weeks.

“The federal minister for foreign affairs stood up last week and said the vast majority of passport applications have been processed within six weeks and that people should look to use the fast track option,” said Newman.

“But if you put your application in three months ago, or even ten weeks ago, the expectation would reasonably be that you will get your passport as you put your application in with plenty of time. You shouldn’t have to fast-track.”

Frustration with the system was rife among people in the queue. Sales and marketing professional, Ravinder Vashisht, said the inefficiencies started right at the door.

“No one was telling you any information when you arrived. ” At least put some information or signs telling people this line is for the inquiries and this one is for picking up the passports,” he said.

Vashisht had taken a day off work after receiving a text that his newborn baby’s passport was ready for collection. He says he would have had it posted if the wait for postage was not so long and was hoping to save some time and have his questions answered in person after attempts on the phone had failed.

“Nowadays, they’re changing everything to self-service, decreasing the staff and saving money, and now they want us to do their jobs. When I go through the phone hotline and try to speak to someone, I get an automated message saying I will receive an email in six weeks. “There should be a person you can talk to about your application; otherwise what is the  point of ru nning this hotline?”

Bella E. McMahon
I am a freelance writer who started blogging in college. I am fascinated by human nature, politics, culture, technology, and pop culture. In addition to my writing, I enjoy exploring new places, trying out new things, and engaging in conversations with new people. Some of my favorite hobbies are reading, playing music, making crafts, writing, traveling, and spending time with my family.