Senate debates

Monday, 13 February 2017


Transport Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2016; Second Reading

5:32 pm

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (Victoria, Liberal Party, Special Minister of State) Share this | | Hansard source

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

It is important that the Government's transport security regulatory activities remain effective and fit for purpose in an evolving security environment.

The Bill I present today, the Transport Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, will ensure that the transport security regulatory framework remains responsive to changes in the security environment.

The Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 (which I will now refer to as the Aviation Act) establishes a regulatory system to safeguard against unlawful interference with aviation. This regulatory system aims to prevent conduct that threatens the secure operation of aircraft and airports. It is continually reviewed to ensure it mitigates current threats and the Australian public is provided with safe and secure air travel.

As part of this continual review process, we are introducing measures at Australia's major international airports to mitigate the insider threat. Airport workers such as baggage handlers, caterers, cleaners and engineers have special access to passenger aircraft so that they can carry out their important roles. However, there is potential for this access to be exploited, either willingly or through coercion, to facilitate a terrorist attack against a passenger aircraft.

Serious international security incidents targeting aviation, such as the bombing of Metrojet flight 9268 in Egypt on 31 October 2015 and the attempted bombing of Daallo Airlines Flight 159 in Somalia on 2 February 2016, have highlighted the continuing threat to the global aviation environment, in particular the insider threat. There is growing concern about the insider threat among the global aviation community and the Convention on International Civil Aviation, to which Australia is a signatory, places obligations on States to have measures in place to address this threat.

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (my Department), in consultation with the aviation industry, has developed a new model for strengthening airside security at Australia's nine major international airports to address the insider threat and ensure Australia meets its international civil aviation obligations for airside security. The measures introduced through the Bill are part of a broader suite of regulatory amendments that give effect to the model's three components, those being:

1. controls to ensure people, vehicles and goods entering airside areas at Australia's major international airports are authorised to do so;

2. random screening of people, vehicles and accompanying goods entering and within, the airside areas of the major international airports to detect unauthorised weapons and explosives; and

3. security awareness training for airport and airline employees, including contractors, that regularly work within airside areas at the major international airports.

The Bill will introduce regulation making powers into the Aviation Act that will enable people, vehicles and goods to be randomly selected for security screening when they are inside an airside area or zone at security controlled airports. This complements existing provisions in the Act that provide regulation making powers for the screening of people, vehicles and goods before they enter an airside area or zone.

Together, these provisions will give airports the ability to decide the best way to implement security screening controls for their airside areas. For example, for airports with few airside tenants, it may be more efficient and cost effective to apply screening controls at all airside entry points. However, for airports that host large numbers of airside tenants, each with their own access point into the airside area, it will be more practical and cost effective to apply screening controls only at some access points, and to complement this with mobile screening patrols inside the airside area.

Separate to the strengthened airside security amendments, the Bill also makes further amendments to the Aviation Act and amends the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 (which I will now refer to as the Maritime Act) to allow the Secretary of my Department to delegate his powers in these Acts to lower level APS employees. This will give the Department greater administrative flexibility and capacity to manage predicted industry growth, particularly in a changing security environment.

The amendments will remove the references limiting delegations to Executive Level 2 APS employees, allowing the Secretary to delegate to lower level employees. The amendments will not expand the statutory powers of the Secretary in the Acts. The proposed changes will ensure the Government has the ability to make quality decisions while managing industry growth and responding to the changing security environment.

I commend the Bill.

Debate adjourned.