Press Conference, Doorstop - Melbourne Airport

Interview

DCI066/2017

26 July 2017

Subjects: Additional airport safety requirements at Melbourne Airport.

Darren Chester: Can I start by first of all thanking Melbourne Airport and the major airports around Australia for the swift way they've operated the upgraded security arrangements across our nation this morning. I also want to thank the Australian travelling public for their understanding at a difficult time. There is a very genuine threat to security which was revealed last week and has resulted in some upgraded security provisions here at Melbourne Airport and other airports throughout Australia. The Government's certainly sorry for the inconvenience it's caused to the travelling public, but we make no apology for making safety our absolute priority, our number one priority.

In the order of 137 million passenger movements are made throughout Australia each year in domestic and international flights, and it's critical that we maintain passenger safety and confidence in our system. So I want to reassure the Australian travelling public that they should go about their travels, travel for business or for leisure, knowing that the security provisions are in place to make sure that journey is completely safe.

Can I also encourage people who are travelling to be patient, to be understanding that these additional security requirements may mean some delays and they should allow extra time for their travel plans. We're asking people to provide up to two hours for check in for domestic services, and three hours for international flights. With their understanding and due courtesy and respect to the security staff, I'm sure we can manage our way through this situation.

And finally, can I just encourage the travelling public to be vigilant. If they see anything that is suspicious, they should report it to the nearest available security officer at our airports, and working together I'm sure we can overcome these challenges.

Question: It's about 24 hours since the arrangements came in. Overall, how do you think they're going?

Darren Chester: We're very pleased with the support we've received from the airports around Australia. They've been working very closely with the Office of Transport Security to put the new provisions in place. There were some delays this morning. We believe the travelling public has accepted the need for these additional safety requirements, and I'm confident we can work our way through any [indistinct] delays.

Question: It does seem that people are pretty understanding about the need for these [indistinct] feedback.

Darren Chester: The Australian people are great people. They recognise that their safety must come first, and there was a genuine threat to their safety over the last 48 hours. I want to congratulate our security agencies and counter-terrorism units who worked so swiftly to nullify that threat. But given the circumstances, I'm sure the Australian people will be understanding and be patient and extend all due courtesies to our security staff as they go about their job. They're here to keep us safe and we want to thank them for the work they're doing as well, at a difficult time.

Question: How long are these enhanced arrangements likely to be in place?

Darren Chester: Well, it's not for me to second guess the experts in relation to the security upgrades. It's a question of constantly monitoring and evaluating our security settings, and making sure that the appropriate response is in place. So these new provisions will be in place for as long as the security agencies advise us that that's the most appropriate course of action. We won't be second guessing the experts; our number one priority remains keeping the safety of the Australian travelling public at the absolute forefront of our minds.

Question: Has there been any discussion of having security before people get inside the terminal, like we see in public [indistinct]?

Darren Chester: We are constantly monitoring and evaluating the security settings around our airports. One of the challenges with airport security is trying to avoid having large crowds waiting in circumstances where they may be put at risk by those who seek to do us harm. So we're constantly evaluating the most appropriate way to move a crowd through the airport to get them safely to their destination.