Feb 9, 2010

Strengthening aviation security

Strengthening aviation security

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

February 9 2010

The Australian Government has today announced a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen Australia’s international and domestic aviation security regime against emerging threats.

These measures are consistent with the security strategy set out in the Government’s Aviation White Paper released in December last year, as well as the National Security Adviser’s review of aviation security in light of the attempted terrorist attack on a United States-bound flight on Christmas Day.

The Christmas Day attempt showed that no nation can afford to be complacent when it comes to security.

The Government’s highest priority is the safety and security of Australians.

Australia already has a world-class aviation security regime, which we will further strengthen through a range of strategic and practical measures.

Over four years, the Government will invest $200 million on new and improved security technologies, increased policing at airports, enhanced security procedures, as well as strengthened international cooperation.

Increasing passenger and baggage screening

There will be an immediate increase in the number of passengers who will be subject to explosive trace detection at our major international and domestic airports.

The Government will provide $28.5 million to assist the industry to introduce a range of new screening technologies at passenger screening points.

These technologies will include the latest body scanners, next generation multi-view X-ray machines and bottle scanners capable of detecting liquid-based explosives.

Body scanners will be introduced progressively as an additional screening measure at screening points servicing international departing passengers by early 2011.

The Government understands the privacy concerns some travellers may have with body scanning technologies and will implement appropriate privacy and facilitation measures to mitigate these concerns.

We will also provide $32 million to bring forward screening at a number of additional regional airports that are currently served by larger passenger turbo-prop aircraft.

We are also introducing more stringent training and performance requirements for security screening staff, as part of the Government’s Aviation White Paper.

Policing at airports

The Government will provide $17.7 million to increase the number of Firearms and Explosive Detection Dogs at major international airports by 50 per cent.

When teamed with bomb appraisal officers and other uniformed Australian Federal Police officers, these highly-trained detection dogs and their handlers make a highly visible and effective contribution to aviation security and law enforcement.

In addition, we will provide $12.3 million to maintain the AFP presence at major airports, in line with the Beale review’s recommendations on airport policing to deliver more responsive and better coordinated policing at these vital gateways.

Strengthening international cooperation

The Government will provide $18.2 million to strengthen engagement and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region and internationally and to improve security on international flights.

We will expand our international cooperation regime of visits, inspections and security assessments at last ports of call airports for flights coming to Australia.

We will also conduct a trial, in partnership with the United States and United Kingdom at an Australian airport on technology-based solutions to assist in further improvements to the detection of liquids-based explosives.

Passenger security processing measures

The Government will provide $24.9 million for new technology as part of the Enhanced Passenger Assessment and Clearance Program, to enable Customs to assess a larger number of passengers earlier and faster and share relevant data with intelligence, border management and law enforcement agencies.

This will bring together passenger travel history quicker to inform judgements at the border and to address one of the issues identified after the Christmas Day attempt.

The Government will also provide $11.4 million for the Next Generation Border Security Initiative to use advanced data analysis and risk profiling to better identify and refer visa applicants who may present national security risks to intelligence agencies.

Securing the air cargo supply chain

The Government will introduce a number of measures to help secure Australia’s air cargo supply chain.

We will provide $54.2 million to assist industry to install cargo x-ray screening and explosive trace detection technology at selected locations.

This funding will also establish a regulated shipper scheme, which will allow for the identification of high-risk cargo for technical examination.

Recent events have shown that terrorists and terrorist organisations are trying new techniques and strategies in their efforts to target innocent people.

Although no single measure can prevent a terrorist attack, new technologies, better training and greater domestic and international cooperation can help us stay one step ahead of terrorist organisations.

As part of the process, we will work with the aviation industry and other stakeholders in order to improve the efficiency and quality of passenger screening and facilitation at domestic and international airports and ensure disruptions are minimised for travellers.

It is vital that we remain vigilant and take those steps that are necessary to protect Australian citizens and Australian interests.