Ministers for the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities The Hon Michael McCormack MP Deputy Prime MinisterMinister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Senator the Hon Bridget McKenzie Minister for Regional ServicesMinister for SportMinister for Local Government and Decentralisation The Hon Alan Tudge MP Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population The Hon Sussan Ley MP Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories The Hon Andrew Gee MP Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Andrew Broad MP Former Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Scott Buchholz MP Assistant Minister for Roads and Transport The Hon Barnaby Joyce MPFormer Deputy Prime MinisterFormer Minister for Infrastructure and Transport The Hon Dr John McVeigh MPFormer Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government The Hon Keith Pitt MPFormer Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister The Hon Damian Drum MPFormer Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister Senator the Hon Fiona Nash Former Minister for Regional DevelopmentFormer Minister for Local Government and Territories The Hon Darren Chester MP Former Minister for Infrastructure and TransportFormer A/g Minister for Regional DevelopmentFormer A/g Minister for Local Government and Territories The Hon Warren Truss MP Former Deputy Prime Minister Former Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development The Hon Paul Fletcher MP Former Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities The Hon Jamie Briggs MP Former Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development

Airport security oped 'tougher border worker checks needed'

Opinion Piece


01 March 2017

Daily Telegraph

One of the key responsibilities of the Australian government is to keep Australians safe and secure our borders.

Regular airport users know that we take security seriously to safeguard the lives of Australians and tourists.

This responsibility extends beyond the tarmac or ports, particularly when it comes to serious crime, such as importing illicit drugs or illegal firearms.

The government has highlighted a need to strengthen the maritime and aviation work environments against crime, and has legislation before the Senate to enhance background checks for workers.

As the law stands, background checks are conducted before issuing an aviation or maritime security identification card, known as an ASIC or MSIC, to workers who require access in non-public areas. 

The checks establish whether the worker poses a security risk to maritime or aviation infrastructure, but what has been missing is checks for criminal risk.

There have been recent examples of why this is so important.

In 2014, an airport worker was denied an ASIC card due to his criminal history including significant terms of imprisonment for multiple aviation security relevant offences.

One offence related to the importation of a significant quantity of cocaine into Australia by airfreight, and attempting to involve an innocent person.

The decision to refuse an ASIC card to this person was overturned on appeal by an independent tribunal because of the narrow purpose of the current law.

To rectifiy this, the Transport Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill seeks to add criminal behaviour as a consideration on whether or not someone should be given unescorted access to the security sensitive areas of an airport or seaport.

We want to reduce the level of ice and other illicit substances reaching Australia, at a time when the availability of drugs is a concern within our communities.

This legislative change will better prevent individuals and criminal gangs or syndicates that traffic those illicit drugs or illegal guns from having access to our major transport links.

These changes will not solve the problem but they will make it harder for criminals to operate our ports and airports.

As a responsible government looking to keep our citizens safe and secure, we think making life harder for criminals is a good thing, and we are hopeful of securing Senate support for these important changes.