Security at Australian airports will be pulled even tighter with a new A$200 million ($243 million) programme that will include body scanners, cargo x-ray screening and beefed-up intelligence co-operation, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced.

The programme, to be spread over four years, follows the attempted bombing of an American airliner on Christmas Day, a continuing review of aviation security, and a A$53 million ($65 million) package for 11 major airports announced in last year's Budget.

Announcing the new measures yesterday, Rudd said the attempt by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to detonate explosives as a Northwest Airlines flight approached Detroit demonstrated that no nation could afford to be complacent about security.

"The Government's highest priority is the safety and security of Australians," he said.

The Detroit incident, which sparked tough new rules for United States-bound flights, came only days after Australia had relaxed restrictions on items such as knitting needles and nail clippers that could be taken on to aircraft by passengers in a bid to focus resources on other items that Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said represented a real risk to security.

Earlier, Albanese had announced Budget moves to boost aviation security including air security officers on board passenger flights, extra state police seconded to boost federal police agents at the nation's big airports, special investigative teams to investigate serious and organised aviation crime, rapid deployment units to tackle threats at regional airports, and better co-ordination of aviation security.

Yesterday's announcement raises security another notch.

A key measure will be the introduction of body scanners, which will begin appearing as an additional screening measure from early next year, a move that Rudd accepted would cause concerns over privacy and further delays during the boarding of international flights out of Australia.

The new screening is expected to add about six minutes to existing measures, although Albanese said the Government would work with airlines and airports to minimise disruptions.

Rudd said the Government had to make a judgment call, using the best available advice. "It would be irresponsible of us not to take these actions."

The new body scanners would be introduced in consultation with the Privacy Commissioner, the federal privacy watchdog.

They will be part of a package of new screening technologies that will include multi-view x-ray machines and bottle scanners capable of detecting liquid-based explosives.

Millions more will be spent on boosting the numbers of detection dogs and maintaining the presence of Federal Police agents at major airports, and to introduce tougher training standards for screening staff. The new measures will also focus on intelligence and international security cooperation. Security of air cargo will also be boosted.