CANBERRA, AAP – The federal government has tightened rules for airport baggage handlers and ports workers to bar people with criminal convictions from accessing secure areas.

The changes to eligibility criteria for people holding aviation or maritime security identification cards means “serious criminals” will no longer be able to import illicit goods through airports, seaports or offshore facilities.

“The Morrison government will not let people in positions of trust at our airports and seaports abuse that trust to import weapons, drugs, and other illicit substances into Australia,” Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said on Monday.

“We’ve made sensible changes to ensure that people with serious criminal convictions are ineligible to hold an ASIC or MSIC (ID card), delivering on a key recommendation of the National Ice Taskforce.”

More plans are afoot to make applicants undergo criminal intelligence assessments as part of the background checks process to catch people with links to serious and organised crime groups.

“Australians rightly expect that people with connections to organised crime are not given unescorted access to runways and cargo ships,” Ms Andrews said in a statement.

The changes affect workers with access to secure areas of airports, including baggage handlers, security guards and passenger screening officers.

They will also impact those with access to maritime security zones such as port, port facility or port service workers, stevedores, truck drivers, some seafarers and offshore oil and gas facility workers.