Despite privacy concerns, figures show tens of thousands of curious Australians volunteered for controversial 'nude' security scanners during trials at the nation's airports.
The figures reveal that vast majority of Australians considered the scans to be equal to, or better than, the current airport security screening process.
However, five of Australia's leading privacy and civil liberties groups have called on the federal government to hold an open, public assessment of the privacy and health implications of full-body scanners before any machines are introduced to Australian airports.
Pressure is mounting on the government to fall into line with US and UK security measures.
British authorities switched on the full-body scanners at Heathrow airport on Monday, warning passengers they either submit to imaging or be barred from boarding their flight.
After a seven-month delay, federal transport minister Anthony Albanese has only just received a departmental report into a 2008 trial of the scanners from the Office of Transport Security.
The privacy groups, led by the Australian Privacy Foundation and including the national, Victorian, NSW and Queensland civil liberties organisations, have jointly written to Mr Albanese requesting a "privacy impact assessment" be undertaken.
A spokeswoman for Mr Albanese said she was aware of the correspondence but no decision had yet been made to introduce the scanners.
In the six-week Australian trial, from October 15 to November 28, 2008, almost 70,000 travellers volunteered for full-body security scans at Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide airports, with Deakin University's Intelligent Systems Laboratory helping with data collection and modelling..
"Curiosity" was the reason most often cited reason by passengers for wanting to be scanned, the department found.
Australian Privacy Foundation chairman Roger Clarke described introducing the machines an "extremist measure".
"The Prime Minister has a responsibility to the Australian public to have a proper study done sufficiently in the open with enough information on the table that we can assess whether we agree with his evaluation that such extremist measures are necessary," said Dr Clarke.
"It's quite clear there are privacy implications, quite substantial ones.
"It's imperitive there be justification, not just to protect taxpayer dollars but to protect [passengers'] privacy . . . and health and safety," he said.
The introduction of the machines at overseas airports has drawn protests from privacy rights organisations, which have branded the machines as "virtual strip searches", saying the machines breach child pornography laws and, contrary to official assurances, can save and transmit images.
The body scan trial
Scanner: Rapiscan Secure 1000 (back-scatter x-ray)
?Used for secondary screening only
?32,011 passengers volunteered (22% of all passengers at the screening point)
? 1,078 passengers were imaged
?48% felt the process was as fast as the standard process
?58% felt it was no better or worse than the standard process
?34% felt it was better.
Scanner: AS&E SmartCheck (back-scatter x-ray)
?Used for secondary screening only
?28,422 passengers volunteered, (22% of all passengers at the screening point)
?3,227 passengers were imaged.
?48% felt the process was faster than the standard process.
?60% felt it was better than the standard process
?36% felt it was no better or worse.
Scanner: L-3 ProVision (millimetre radio waves)
?Used for a primary screening
?8,536 passengers volunteered and were imaged
?61% felt the process was slower than the standard process.
?44% felt it was no better or worse than the standard process
?42% felt it was better.
SOURCE: Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government