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Does my wife declare her purpose to the Customs officer at the airport upon her entering Australia on an ETA, that she intends to apply for an Onshore Partner Visa (subclass 820) after entering Australia?

Regards,
Luis
If she does that, she is likely to be denied entry for not meeting " genuine visitor" requirements. If she applied for a 3 month tourist visa, while the sc. 309 visa is still being processed and came to Australia on a temporary visit, then, depending on her visa conditions, you could consider applying for a new partner visa onshore and withdraw the other application. There will be no refund.
 
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