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Tuesday, 31 October 2006
Page: 191

Mr Bevis asked the Attorney-General, in writing, on 8 August 2006:

(1)   At each Australian (a) international and (b) domestic airport, what percentage of checked passenger luggage is inspected by x-ray.

(2)   At Australian maritime ports, what percentage of shipping containers is (a) inspected by x-ray and/or (b) scanned for radiological materials.

Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General) —The Minister for Justice and Customs has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

(1)   The responsibility for the x-ray of checked passenger luggage (both international and domestic) rests with the airlines. As such, the Australian Customs Service does not keep this type of information. The relevant policy department is Transport and Regional Services who will be able to assist in answering this question.


(a)   During the 2005 calendar year, Customs inspected (X-rayed) 138,136 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) nationally. Inspections occurred at the Container Examination Facilities (CEFs) in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Fremantle and Adelaide, and at the Container Examination Building in Darwin. The facilities Customs has built integrate x-ray with physical examination, other law enforcement and regulatory agency activity, and the necessary interactions with industry. The Customs facilities also integrate x-ray with a range of other technologies. In addition to a powerful container x-ray, the facilities utilise pallet and mobile x-ray units, ion scan technology, detector dogs, and radiation chemical warfare agent detectors. Between the container examination initiative commencing in November 2002 and 31 July 2006, over 393,000 TEUs have been x-rayed. Prior to the container x-ray strategy, between 4,000 and 5,000 TEU per annum were examined by the equivalent area in Customs. Customs continues to risk assess all sea cargo entering Australia.

(b)   Customs Standard Operating Procedures stipulate that a hand-held radiation detector is used at each CEF to measure radiation levels when containers are checked in for an X-ray. Customs intends conducting trials of radiation portal technology in the 2006-07 financial year.