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John Key

20 August, 2009

Trans-Tasman travel to become faster, easier

Travelling between Australia and New Zealand will become faster and easier as the Government streamlines border processes for passengers, Prime Minister John Key announced today.

Passengers will see a difference in their trans-Tasman travel experience over the next year as a series of new measures are introduced.

Mr Key unveiled the changes after meeting with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Canberra today, and work will continue between the two countries to further streamline border processes.

“Once the changes I have announced today are in place, new passenger clearance systems for trans-Tasman flights mean low-risk New Zealand and Australian passengers will get a fast exit from border control at the airport,” Mr Key says.

“Significant progress has been made in this area since I met with Prime Minister Rudd in March and I am pleased that both countries will continue to work on further streamlining the travel experience for our people.”

Changes in New Zealand to trans-Tasman passenger clearance includes:

  • Installation of SmartGate processing. This kiosk and gate system will allow passengers with e-passports to self-process through passport control. The Government has decided to introduce SmartGate progressively, beginning at Auckland International Airport for arrivals in December. Wellington and Christchurch will follow next year and SmartGate for departures will be operational in all three airports in 2011.

  • Changes to biosecurity screening. Passengers from New Zealand or Australia identified as low-risk will be able to exit the airport faster because of the use of more targeted risk-based assessment. A trial this year at Auckland International Airport showed MAF staff can successfully identify low and high-risk passengers. The Government has decided to implement a faster exit path for low-risk passengers, initially at Auckland International Airport. Alongside the new regime, the instant fine for bringing risk goods into the country will increase from $200 to $400.

In addition to these changes, Mr Key says the New Zealand and Australian governments are also looking at the feasibility of x-ray image transfer.

This would see the transfer of x-ray images of bags, meaning inspectors would be able to assess and clear incoming passenger baggage during flight time.

A report on progress toward implementing this image transfer is due to Cabinet early next year.

“These changes are not the end of the work programme, but as they are implemented they will help make trans-Tasman travel more convenient for passengers,” Mr Key says.

“This can be achieved without sacrificing New Zealand’s border security – in fact allowing staff to focus more on high-risk passengers enhances security.

“The future work programme our countries have agreed to underlines that we want to further streamline the trans-Tasman travel experience where possible.”

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