Oct 29, 2009

Aviation Transport Security Amendment (2009 Measures No.2) Bill 2009


Second Reading

29 October 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.

The Aviation Transport Security Amendment (2009 Measures No.2) Bill 2009 will tighten the air cargo supply chain in a balanced and strategic way.

It is the Government’s view that cargo which can either be transported by road or air should, where possible, be certified for security purposes early in the supply chain.

An example of this is express parcels that are transported domestically. At present, air cargo security measures such as x-ray examination, physical search and explosive trace detection tests are not used until it is decided that the parcel in question will definitely travel by air, which can be when the relevant package is at the airport.

The Amendments being proposed in this Bill will allow for better security checking earlier in the supply chain, when goods are in a less consolidated state and more easily unpacked and scrutinised if necessary.

Further, under the current legislative arrangements, only aircraft operators may certify air cargo even though other industry participants earlier in the supply chain apply security measures such as X-ray screening or explosive trace detection tests. This means that an aircraft operator may have to certify something which has been examined and packed by someone else earlier in the supply chain.

The amendments in the Bill will allow for the certification of cargo at the appropriate point in the supply chain. The Bill expands the classes of industry participants who may certify cargo for carriage on an aircraft, meaning the person who examines the cargo can also certify it at the same time.

In the example of an express parcel, these amendments mean the parcel can be inspected and cleared before it is sealed, allowing for a greater amount of certainty that its contents do not pose a threat to aviation security.

Specifically, this Bill contains six key amendments to the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 to expand the regulatory scope for supply chain security by the Office of Transport Security, Australia’s aviation security regulator.

Firstly, the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 will expand the definition of cargo to include circumstances where cargo is reasonably likely to be transported by aircraft.

The Regulations would then provide that goods are considered to be ‘reasonably likely’ to be transported by aircraft when, for example, they are identified by the consignor as express or priority freight or goods accompanied by a dangerous goods statement as required by the Civil Aviation Act 1988.

The amendment will ensure all cargo likely to be transported by aircraft is dealt with by parties who are regulated and obliged to apply measures at each stage, consistent with their operations.

The second amendment will expand the scope of industry participants who may certify cargo through a revised definition of the term ‘certified’. The revised definition will allow certification of cargo by Regulated Air Cargo Agents, Accredited Air Cargo Agents and Aircraft Operators. This amendment will reflect the expanded scope of industry participants who may certify cargo.

Thirdly, the Bill will allow regulation-making powers to prescribe the circumstances in which cargo may be certified. The scope of industry participants who may certify cargo will be expanded to include Regulated Air Cargo Agents and Accredited Air Cargo Agents. This amendment will allow certification to take place along the supply chain in line with cargo examination processes performed by industry participants and enhance compliance to these processes by industry participants.

The fourth amendment in this Bill will allow the Secretary to issue a notice describing the circumstances in which cargo may be certified. The Secretary will be empowered to specify criteria for certification appropriate to the changes in the threat to aviation security, technological advancements and international obligations. This amendment will provide greater flexibility and alter certification criteria to ensure they are fit for circumstance and carried out by appropriately regulated industry participants.

The fifth amendment will introduce a transitional provision for Transport Security Programs to ensure a consistent application of measures in line with the amended definition of cargo proposed in this Bill. Transport Security Programs with the existing definition of cargo will be taken to be amended as if they included the new definition of cargo.

The final amendment will preserve existing Regulations until such time as new regulations take effect.

In summary, the proposed amendments will clarify the obligations of aviation industry participants in applying security measures along the cargo supply chain and empower the Secretary to specify criteria for cargo certification appropriate to prevailing circumstances.

These amendments will enhance the security of the air cargo supply chain and, as a result, strengthen aviation security in Australia.