May 23, 2012

Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Screening) Bill 2012 – Second Reading

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (18:14):  I thank all those who participated in such a constructive way during the debate on the Aviation Transport Security Amendment (Screening) Bill 2012. The introduction of security screening technology is an important step in further strengthening the security of the nation’s aviation industry. The attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 in December 2009 and the recently disrupted plot to bomb a US-bound aircraft using a non-metal improvised explosive device highlight the need for robust aviation security screening systems that are capable of detecting non-metallic threats to commercial passenger aircraft.

The introduction of body scanners will ensure that travellers departing Australia are afforded the highest level of protection against aviation terrorism.

My department has consulted extensively with other government agencies, community stakeholders and industry to ensure that all health and privacy issues associated with the introduction of this technology have been fully explored. As a result of these discussions, the government has put in place a number of measures to protect the privacy and health of travellers.

Firstly, it is a requirement that body scanners used for aviation security screening in Australia must use non-ionising millimetre wave-technology. X-ray technology will not be allowed. Secondly, to protect the privacy of the travelling public, any image produced by a body scanner must only be a generic or stick figure image that is gender neutral and from which the person cannot be identified. In addition, the body scanner must not store any image of the person that is produced by the equipment or any personal information about the person.

This bill will ensure that body scanners are used in such a way that achieves both an optimal security outcome and a minimal impact on passenger facilitation. The passage of this bill will help to ensure the safety of the 13 million people that depart from Australia’s international airports each year.

I thank once again all members who participated in the debate and I thank the House for the support of this important legislation, which I commend to the House.

Bill read a second time.