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Hunt for drugs and guns boosted by new Customs dogs.

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Senator the Hon Chris Ellison Minister for Justice and Customs

17 March 2005

Hunt for drugs and guns boosted by new Customs dogs

Ten new Customs detector dogs will make it tougher than ever for those who attempt to bring drugs and guns into Australia, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison announced today.

The 10 new detector dog teams have started training in Canberra after an additional $6.9 million was allocated to the program as part of the Government’s commitment to increased border security.

“After developing from pups to finely trained detector dogs, these skilfully bred Labradors will soon be operating at the forefront of Australian border security,” Senator Ellison said.

“The dogs will work beside highly-trained Customs officers at our international airports and maritime ports in the fight to stop drugs, guns and explosives from entering Australia.”

A busy day for a Customs detector dog can include screening 1000 passengers, 200 bags, 50 bulk airmail bags, 100 boxes of freight, a 747 aircraft and the search of a container at an examination facility.

“These dogs, with their super-sensitive noses, are one of the quickest and most accurate detection devices,” Senator Ellison said.

The Australian Customs Service has been recognised internationally as world-leader in its dog breeding program.

“Since the September 11 attacks, 61 detector dogs bred by Customs in Canberra have been sent to the United States to help boost their airport security.

“And in the Asian region, almost 20 detector dogs bred and trained by Customs have also worked in airports to help stem the flow of guns and drugs,” Senator Ellison said.

The extra Government funding will allow Customs to expand its detector dog program by 25 percent.

“In particular, the funding will be used to develop a hazardous chemical detection capability to strengthen Customs counter terrorism capacity.”

Senator Ellison commended the Customs National Breeding and Development Centre which has produced 678 pups since opening in 1996.

Media enquiries: Brad Burke (02) 6277 7260/(0417) 749 711