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Passport gets the hop on fraudsters

Downer shows off the new passport. Bottom: A scan of a mockup of the
Downer shows off the new passport. Bottom: A scan of a mockup of the "floating" kangaroos.

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CANBERRA, Australia -- Australia has unveiled a new passport with floating images of kangaroos that appear to hop up and down making it virtually impossible for criminals to fake, the government says.

Launching the passport on Thursday, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said it will be "the most secure Australian passport ever produced."

"It will help curb identity fraud and possible misuse by people smugglers, terrorists and other transnational criminals."

Key to the high security passport is an abstract image of Australia's national symbol, the kangaroo, which has been cut by laser onto a glass laminate on the document's photo and information page.

The image on the laminate gives the impression of hopping -- like the real life marsupial -- a feature that makes the data pages "virtually impossible" to copy, Downer said.

"The kangaroos appear to hop up and down when the page is moved backwards and forwards, and my department thinks that that is a very nice touch," Downer said.

"This feature will make the document recognizable around the world as a genuine Australian passport," he said.

Downer said the passport's theme is "from the desert to the sea." Additionally, most of the pages for visas and arrival/departure stamps have a background pattern that when viewed under a microscope are the words of Australia's most loved national song, "Waltzing Matilda."

The new passports will be issued from December 1.

Copyright 2003 CNN. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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