Dec 22, 2009

Stop improving aviation security, says Opposition

Stop improving aviation security, says Opposition

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

December 22 2009

The Opposition has today come out against the Rudd Labor Government’s plan to boost Australian aviation security at Australia’s regional airports.

In a press release today, Warren Truss, Federal Leader of the Nationals and Opposition Transport spokesperson, opposed the Government’s policy to introduce passenger and baggage screening by 2014 for all passenger aircraft weighing 20,000 kilograms or more – regardless of whether they are jet or turbo propelled.

This is because the risk that a plane represents is determined by its weight, not its form of propulsion. It is a common sense change – nothing more, nothing less.

The Opposition’s irresponsible, half-baked approach is reckless and opportunist.

In a rush to whip up confusion, Mr Truss also got his facts wrong about many of the airports mentioned in his press release.

The Rudd Government’s policy, announced in the National Aviation Policy Statement last week, will correct a major anomaly in the previous government’s system, which requires jet aircraft to be screened while turbo-propeller aircraft are not.

Our policy will also increase choice for consumers and support regional economies by putting airlines using jet and propeller aircraft on a level playing field when it comes to air services to and from regional airports.

Mr Truss’ irresponsible approach is typical of an Opposition that pretends to talk tough on security but opposes any real policies to make flying more secure.

Earlier this year, they also voted against regulations to stop access to aircraft cockpits to all but those who have a real operational, safety or security need to be there.

Mr Truss should also check his facts – four of the airports mentioned in his press release either already have baggage and passenger screening or are investing in it. They are Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Gladstone and Emerald.

Another three airports – Blackwater, Barcaldine, and Blackall – do not even operate the turbo-propeller Q400 aircraft mentioned in the press release at present.

The Rudd Labor Government will work with regional airports, airlines and local governments in the lead up to 2014 to implement improvements to aviation security.