NEW ZEALAND STARTS SCREENING OF TRAVELLERS' LUGGAGE ABROAD
12 Jul 2013 11:19
WELLINGTON, July 11 (Bernama) --- Air travellers coming into New Zealand will
have their luggage x-rayed abroad and the images sent to New Zealand officials
for biosecurity screening before it arrives in the country, the government
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said the process, a "world first",
was an initial trial involving the transfer of aviation security x-ray images
from Melbourne Airport in Australia to Auckland for passengers on Air New
Passengers would still be subject to clearance requirements prior to boarding
the plane, Guy said in a statement.
"This technology will allow biosecurity staff to assess the x-ray images
before the plane touches down. Any bag containing biosecurity risk items will
then be matched with the passenger who will face further scrutiny by officials
upon landing," said Guy.
If the trials are successful, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will
look to extend the system to other major Australian airports in order to protect
the country from pests and diseases.
In the longer term, x-ray image transfer could be applied to routes with
higher biosecurity risks to New Zealand, such as those from Southeast Asia,
parts of Europe and the Pacific.
"New Zealand is leading the game here. A number of countries, airport
companies and airlines are keen to see if this technology provides biosecurity
benefits," said Guy.
The announcement came the same day as a leading New Zealand agricultural
scientist said the country had "gone soft" on biosecurity with potentially
catastrophic results for the economy.
Institute of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences' former president John
Lancashire told Radio New Zealand that cuts to government departments and a
focus on free trade and tourism were all contributing to the problem.