Aviation, tourism and energy writer for the Business Herald

Budget 2016: Plan to streamline transtasman travel

The Government will start a trial to streamline border processing for low-risk travellers and traders.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Customs Minister Nicky Wagner made the budget announcement today.

"The Government is investing $1.6 million of operating funding over two years to make it easier for low-risk travellers to visit New Zealand, and $2.8 million operating funding over two years to speed up clearance of low risk goods across the border," Guy said.

More than one million people travel in each direction annually and holdups at the border are a source of irritation for those who travel frequently.

"An additional $1 million of operating funding over two years will see the establishment of a border research, technology and innovation cell to develop technological solutions to support streamlined border processing.

"Selected regular transtasman travellers will provide detailed information before they reach the border to enable an advanced risk assessment. This will save time and maintain strict border security standards.

"The aim is to better identify and fast-track low-risk travellers, and target resources at the highest-risk areas to more effectively protect our borders.

"Annual biosecurity funding is now at a record $223 million. Over the past 12 months, MPI has employed 90 new front-line biosecurity staff, introduced 24 new biosecurity detector dog teams, and installed six new x-ray machines."

Wagner says agencies will work with businesses throughout the trial to design a final scheme that enables faster clearance of low-risk goods.

"The trial aims to get information earlier, allowing for earlier risk assessment and reducing costs for traders.

"If the trial proves successful not only will there be time and cost savings for traders and travellers, it will sharpen the Government's focus on managing high-risk activities at the border."

In the United States there is a similar scheme approved frequent travellers can submit more information to authoities and have fewer security checks such as not having to remove laptops from bags or take off their shoes.

- NZ Herald

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