Feb 5, 2012

Advanced screening technology for major airports

Body scanners will be introduced at all of Australia’s international airports providing the travelling public with the most advanced passenger screening technology available in the world.

The Gillard Labor Government will introduce legislation this week following a successful trial of the technology in Sydney and Melbourne, with the new technology to be rolled out across airports from July this year.

The machines only produce a generic outline (attached) to display the location of metal and non-metal items under clothing.

To protect people’s privacy, the image will appear as a stick figure so all men will have the same outline and all women will have the same outline with no defining features.

As an additional measure, the images will not be able to be copied and will not be stored.

The ‘millimetre-wave’ body scanners are perfectly safe and one body scan is comparable to passive exposure to a mobile phone used several metres away.

Once introduced, passengers departing Australia may be required to pass through a body scanner as part of standard screening processes.

While the legislation allows exemptions for serious medical conditions, any passenger directed by an officer must undergo screening and refusal to screen will mean refusal to fly.

The Gillard Government announced a package of measures in 2010 to strengthen aviation security as a result of global events.

The $28 million package provides for new screening measures, including body scanners, at Australia’s eight international gateway airports.

Health, privacy and safety were assessed following the trial including extensive consultation with industry and privacy groups.

Australia has a safe aviation record with over 13 million people flying out of our international airports each year.

This will provide an additional layer of security at our airports and is part of the Government’s $200 million Strengthening Aviation Security Initiative.