Jun 24, 2009

Aviation Transport Security Amendment (2009 Measures No.1) Bill


Second Reading

24 June 2009

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

The framework of Australia’s aviation security legislation has a number of layers to ensure the deterrence, detection and prevention of acts of unlawful interference with an aircraft.

That framework is under constant review to ensure it is responsive to changing threats to the Australian aviation industry.

This Bill contains four key amendments to the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 to strengthen the enforcement powers of the Office of Transport Security, Australia’s aviation security regulator.

The first amendment will enable the Secretary of my Department to designate, by notice, a security controlled airport as a particular category of airport. Currently, the declaration of an airport as a security controlled airport places the same legislative requirements on all such airports, regardless of their size, location and type of aircraft operating from the airport. This amendment will allow regulations to be made that prescribe different legislative requirements for each category of security controlled airport. This will ensure regulatory activity is better targeted to reflect the relative risk associated with each category of airport.

A second amendment will allow an aviation security inspector to enter the premises of an aviation industry participant or accredited air cargo agent who is not on an airport site and inspect their activities without notice. Currently, inspectors can only undertake these inspections on-airport, despite many critical aviation-related businesses being located well away from an airport. Current requirements to provide reasonable notice of inspections off-airport limit the effectiveness of such activity. This is particularly the case for many businesses within the air cargo sector as their security obligations are largely procedural in nature and, with notice, can be changed briefly during an inspection. Inspectors will be allowed to enter premises, observe and discuss procedures and in so doing access documents and records. This amendment does not however allow this activity to be undertaken in residences.

The third amendment would allow the Secretary of my Department to enter into enforceable undertakings with aviation industry participants in relation to all matters that are dealt with under the Act. This amendment has been developed as a result of the current lack of middle-range sanctions to address regulatory issues and contraventions of the Act. Introducing enforceable undertakings as a mid-range administrative enforcement tool enables a more responsive regulatory approach, which would generate more confidence on the part of both the travelling public and industry, and encourage better industry compliance.

Under the amendment, the Secretary would not be able to force a participant to enter into an enforceable undertaking, and at the same time, the Secretary would not be compelled to accept an enforceable undertaking. An aviation industry participant may withdraw or vary the undertaking at any time with the written consent of the Secretary. In addition, the Secretary may, by written notice given to the participant, cancel the undertaking. Should a participant breach an enforceable undertaking, the Secretary may apply to the Federal Court for an order which may include an order directing compliance with the undertaking.

Lastly, this Bill will expand the scope of compliance control directions under the Act to allow an aviation security inspector to direct operators of security controlled airports, screening authorities or screening officers to take specified action in relation to the airport or screening points at the airport.

Currently, there is no scope for aviation security inspectors to issue compliance control directions to airport operators or screening authorities and there have been instances where it would have been useful for such directions to be issued. For example, an inspector may wish to issue a compliance control direction to an airport operator or a screening authority that all passengers and their luggage on a particular flight must be screened or rescreened before the aircraft can depart from the airport to ensure compliance with the ATSA.