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Minister rejects inquiry into customs procedures

Shane Ardern National Customs Spokesman
16 January 2004

Minister rejects inquiry into customs procedures

Calls from National Customs spokesman, Shane Ardern MP, for an inquiry into custom procedures after a corrupt Customs officer gave drug smugglers details of border security secrets has been rejected by Customs Minister Rick Barker.

Former Customs officer Tori Puata was jailed this week for importing methamphetamine after assisting an Australian drug smuggling syndicate and personally carrying drugs into the country.

"The Government has got to do more. The Minister says procedures have been changed, but I'm not satisfied. Mr Puata was just one small part of a much larger syndicate that has not yet been caught ", says Mr Ardern.

"International passengers arrivals are increasing every year. Auckland Airport alone predicts a 30 percent increase.

"Border controls are struggling to cope with these growing numbers, and this sort of pressure leads to mistakes," says Mr Ardern.

"And we can't afford mistakes. Drugs not only devastate families, our economy suffers too. Stopping only one kilogram of heroin can save our economy more than $10 million.

"Drugs are a fast-growing problem in this country. A study released today shows how much the spiralling use of 'P' is fuelling violence and ruining lives right across our society.

"The Government has got to ensure customs and border control is constantly upgraded and adapted so that drug smugglers are stopped," says Mr Ardern.

Mr Ardern intends to personally visit Auckland to view procedures first-hand to ensure that everything possible is being done in this important area.

Ends

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