Keeping Australians safe in the current security climate justifies giving police new powers to check identifications at the nation’s airports, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.
The Prime Minister on Tuesday spruiked security measures outlined in last week’s federal budget, including millions for full body scanners and advanced X-ray equipment to be rolled out across major and regional airports.
Proposed new laws will also allow Australian Federal Police officers to conduct identity checks at airports and order people to leave the premises.
Mr Turnbull seized on recent “brutal” terrorist attacks in Indonesia’s second largest city, Surabaya, to highlight the threat posed by terrorists in the region.
“It reminds us of the need to be ever vigilant,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Melbourne.
“There is no place for ‘set and forget’ in defending Australians.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said he was worried about gels, liquids and explosive devices being taken onto aircrafts.
“This is the most comprehensive investment in aviation security in decades,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor was awaiting a briefing on the security changes.
“We approach this in a constructive mindset,” he told reporters in Brisbane.
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But Mr Shorten expressed concerns the government may have underfunded the security promise and it would put the viability of some regional airports under stress, particularly in Queensland and Western Australia.
A Home Affairs Department spokeswoman said the body scanners were safe and do not emit ionising radiation like X-rays.
“One scan is comparable to a mobile phone being used several metres away,” she said.
Airport security measures in the budget:
- Body scanners and advanced X-ray equipment will be rolled out across major and regional airports.
- More than 140 counter-terrorism officers will be deployed at airports, with another 50 officers providing them with tactical intelligence and support.
- Proposed new laws will allow federal police officers to conduct identity checks at airports and order people to leave the premises.
- Inbound air cargo and international mail will be subjected to stricter screening as part of a $122 million equipment upgrade.
- Airport screening staff will face stricter training and security checks.