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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 862

Senator RICE (Victoria) (19:06): I rise today to provide some comments on the Transport Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 and will begin by noting that the Greens are supportive of the measures contained in this bill and feel that they are an accurate and appropriate way to balance the issues between security and protecting people's rights. In amending the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004, the bill is providing for 'additional security measures to allow people, vehicles or goods to undergo aviation security screening within an airside area or zone at a security controlled airport', to quote the bill's explanatory memorandum.

We see the measures proposed in the bill as reasonable steps that complement existing airport security protocols by allowing for screening to occur within the airside zone at a security controlled airport in addition to the screening point where someone enters the zone. We all know as passengers the screening we have to go through to get into the security controlled zone. This essentially is adding to that. In particular for people working within that zone—for anybody within that zone—this gives the opportunity for those extra screening measures to take place. We feel that these measures in this bill are a good balance between providing safety and security versus privacy and the right of movement for people at our airports. The Greens recognise that we do have sensible measures in place at our airports to address the possibility of violence or terrorist attack, and we note that this bill assists Australia to meet its obligations under the Convention on International Civil Aviation. We recognise that there are particular security considerations that we need to take into account at airports to ensure the safety of travellers and workers who are moving through airports and flying between them. When you are up there in the plane and there are security issues, there is nowhere else to go. It is a particularly point place to be.

So, we need to make wise judgements. We need to make sure that we get that balance right. We need to make sure that when people are at airports and are flying they are safe while but at the same time to do that without unduly impacting upon people's rights and without unduly creating a climate of fear. People need to have the certainty and the confidence that they are going to be safe but not a sense of overt control that makes them feel that it is a very unsafe and fearful place to be. In creating a safe and harmonious society, it is really antithetical if we have people living in a climate of constant fear.

However, we think the government's bill represents a useful step to ensure that safety sits alongside the existing screening arrangements in Australian airports. A key element of this bill is that we want to make sure that the additional screening that takes place is random, that it is not racially profiling people or picking out a particular group of people under the presumption or the hunch that they are going to be more likely to be security risks. I think it is particularly worth noting that the bill does specify that the random screening events are just that—random—because it would be a serious breach of civil rights if people were in some way profiled before being identified for screening.

I note the amendment from Pauline Hanson's One Nation party, who in fact want to see racial profiling; they want to see racism in place in our airports. They want to say that no, we think this group of people are more likely to be security risks, purely on the basis of their race or other characteristics. We reject that completely, and we are pleased to see that this bill does not feature that. And I will be pleased to have that debate when we are addressing those amendments, to discuss how important it is that we do not resort to racial profiling in these screening measures, that everyone is treated equally, that the presumption of innocence is there for everyone, regardless of their background, their race, their gender or any other characteristics.

The other really important thing we need to ensure with this legislation is that the screening of workers or travellers is not unnecessarily invasive or impinging on people's privacy. Security is important, but not at the expense of civil liberties and human rights. So I am pleased to note that, as noted in the explanatory memorandum, the government has carefully considered how the introduction of in-zone screening will impact the privacy of people working in restricted airport areas or zones and has ensured that privacy safeguards are in place.

In conclusion, with those provisos in place—that we are not going to see racial profiling taking place, that people's rights, people's privacy, are being taken account of, that discrimination is not occurring, that nondiscrimination provisions currently exist in screening arrangements; it is really worth underlining how important it is that they are going to be taken forward into any future screening arrangements, because it would be a very bad step forward if that were to occur—the Greens are pleased to support this bill as a useful set of measures to maintain airport security in Australia.