Australia Customs authorities have confiscated almost 6000 laser pointers over the last six months, Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor announced at the weekend.
Customs and Border Protection warned that bringing illegal laser pointers into Australia can lead to a fine of up to $110,000.
According to O’Connor, there has been a marked increase in seizures of illegal laser pointers through mail and air cargo coming into Australia, with 5875 seized between July and December last year, compared to 6518 in the entire 2008-09 financial year.
The Government says laser pointers have been known to cause effects such as temporary blindness and disorientation if a beam is pointed directly at the eyes. It was also concerned when lasers in recent years have been directed at aircraft preparing to land at Australian airports.
Customs’ national director of trade division, Sue Pitman, said hand-held pointers with an emission level greater than one milliwatt (1mW) are prohibited unless prior written permission has been granted.
“The public should also be warned that some retailers selling laser pointers on the Internet advertise them as being under the 1mW threshold, when in fact they are many times over that limit and therefore illegal in Australia without a permit,” she said.
“Advertised items that require multiple AAA batteries to operate or that have a visible beam are often above the 1mW threshold.”