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Boost to border protection in South Australia.



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MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CUSTOMS

E233/01

19 October 2001

Boost to Border Protection In South Australia

A boost to Customs in South Australia will see an extra 13 staff employed to further secure Australia’s borders.

Minister for Justice and Customs Senator Chris Ellison said the additional staff would be employed to protect the State against the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), as well as other illegal activity such as people smuggling and drug trafficking.

“This boost to Customs surveillance activities in Adelaide will play a major role in preventing Foot and Mouth disease and other diseases from reaching Australia. One of the great spin offs is that these additional officers will also be on the lookout for other illegal activities such drug trafficking,” Senator Ellison said.

The new staff, most of whom will be located at Adelaide’s International Airport, will undertake examinations of baggage, international mail and air cargo.

As part of the increased surveillance measures all passengers, cargo containers and mail will be screened and most will have their baggage inspected or x-rayed.

Last year some 280,381air passengers passed through Adelaide.

“The new recruits have been in training since July and in total will complete six months of intensive training, including classroom and on-the-job training,” Senator Ellison said.

The boost to Customs in South Australia is funded through an allocation of $239 million over four years announced as part of the 2001-2002 Federal Budget. The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) will also receive additional funding bringing the Government’s total investment in new foot and mouth prevention measures to almost $600 million.

Senator Ellison said that increased screenings throughout Australia by both Customs and AQIS had resulted in seizure of a number of dangerous items not directly associated with FMD. These include -

! Seizure of about 14,000 ecstasy tablets in August after x-rays revealed a possible narcotic concealment within a sports bag, and ! Seizure of up to 1kg of heroin found in shampoo bottles, and detected by x-ray equipment

“In addition to the 13 new staff, Customs and AQIS will also install two new x-ray machines at the airport. This new technology will significantly increase the speed of processing people through Customs and quarantine controls as well as detecting elaborately concealed illegal items,” Senator Ellison said.

Media enquiries: Nicole Johnston (08) 9328 3688 or 0419 217 918