International organised crime groups are taking advantage of Australia's remote northern coastline to try and smuggle people and goods.
The Department of Home Affairs has warned a parliamentary inquiry into northern Australia that the South Pacific has become a hub for crooks.
Representatives from the department will front the inquiry via teleconference on Friday alongside Defence bureaucrats.
The department says Australia's neighbours were being used as transit points for drugs, guns and people smuggling.
A Defence submission told the inquiry a rapidly growing population in the Indo-Pacific would see a boost in trade in northern Australia.
But it also warned sea lanes would be contested as they became more crowded, with an ongoing need for investment in Defence's capabilities in the north.
Home Affairs said it was also working to boost security at regional airports in the north, which includes the Northern Territory and far north Queensland, to better protect against terrorist threats.
Australian Associated Press