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Minister opens new Customs search facility.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Minister for Justice & Customs

Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone

Senator for South Australia

 

02/99

Thursday 7 January 1999

 

Minister opens new Customs search facility

 

Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone officially opened the new Customs covert search facility in Sydney today as part of the Federal Government’s Tough on Drugs Strategy.

 

The large 3700 square metre warehouse has been specially fitted out for Customs purposes at a cost of more than $1 million. Containing the latest fixed and mobile x-ray and ionscan particle analysing equipment and other sophisticated technology, it also has its own drug testing and evidence examination area. In addition, the facility is the monitoring centre for closed circuit camera surveillance of Sydney’s wharves.

 

More than 40 specially-trained Customs officers are based at the facility. As well as searching cargo on the premises, the officers can be deployed anywhere in NSW at any time.

 

Senator Vanstone said the facility represented the Government’s continued commitment to providing funding and other appropriate resources to Customs as part of an integrated and effective national effort under Tough on Drugs to combat the menace of illicit drugs.

 

“The Government is strongly committed to ensuring that Customs has the capability to play its part in the fight against drugs,” Senator Vanstone said.

 

“This superbly-equipped facility represents a key component in that vital task.

 

“Utilising highly skilled officers and the best technology available and working in close cooperation with other law enforcement agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, Customs is well placed to build upon its outstanding border control results.”

 

The Minister said that in the latter part of last year there had been several record drug detections off the NSW coast. In October, an estimated 400 kg of heroin were seized in a joint Customs/AFP operation near Port Macquarie. In December, a second joint operation stopped approximately 225 kg of cocaine being imported into Coffs Harbour.

 

“Sydney is recognised as being the primary market for narcotics in Australia and this new search facility should assist in combating this illegal and potentially deadly international trade.”

 

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Kevin Donnellan, Office of Senator Vanstone, 0419 400 078

Chris Schofield, Australian Customs Service, 02 9213 2008/0418 281 501

 

 

 

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