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Thursday, 11 March 2010
Page: 2215


Mr ALBANESE (Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government) (9:02 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Transport Security Legislation Amendment (2010 Measures No. 1) Bill 2010 amends the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003.

Background

Australia’s aviation security legislation framework consists of a number of layers of security measures, and is under constant review to ensure that Australia’s aviation industry is safeguarded and able to quickly adapt to new threats to security.

The Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 establishes a preventive security regime to safeguard against acts of terrorism and unlawful interference with the Australian aviation sector.

The failed terrorist attempt on Christmas Day last year against a United States-bound flight clearly demonstrates the continuing need for stringent preventive security measures.

Australia’s maritime industry is critical to the social and economic prosperity of Australia. Nearly 4,000 ships carry goods and commodities to and from Australian shores each year, carrying 99 per cent of Australia’s imports and exports by volume. These ships represent nearly 10 per cent of world seaborne trade by mass—the fifth largest shipping task in the world.

The Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 establishes a preventive security regime to safeguard against acts of terrorism and unlawful interference with Australia’s ports, port facilities, ships and offshore facilities.

It gives effect to Australia’s international obligations as a contracting administration under the International Maritime Organisation’s International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, established under chapter 11-2 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

To quote from the recently released counterterrorism white paper:

Terrorism continues to pose a serious security challenge to Australia. … The threat of terrorism is real and enduring. It has become a persistent and permanent feature of Australia’s security environment.

Objective of the Bill

The Transport Security Legislation Amendment (2010 Measures No. 1) Bill 2010 contains two amendments to the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004. Both amendments have been developed to better equip the Australian government’s capacity to respond in the event of an aviation incident.

The bill also amends the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 to implement a range of proposals which emerged from a recent examination of security arrangements for passenger ships undertaken by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

Together, the measures in this bill ensure Australia’s preventive transport security arrangements continue to deliver effective security outcomes, both now and into the future.

Measures in the Bill

I will first provide an overview of the measures in the bill to amend the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004.

The first amendment will allow the prohibited items list to be made in a notice issued by the minister responsible for administering the act. Currently, the prohibited items list is made in the regulations, and as such, any amendment to be made to the prohibited items list currently involves a relatively lengthy legislative process. This amendment will ensure that the prohibited items list can be more easily amended and updated to reflect emerging threats and vulnerabilities to aviation security, while still preserving parliamentary scrutiny.

The second aviation security amendment will enable the secretary of my department to delegate all or any of his powers and functions to a senior executive service employee in the Attorney-General’s Department. While this amendment is administrative in nature, it is being made in preparation for the establishment of the ‘Commonwealth Incident Coordinator’ position within the Attorney-General’s Department from 1 July 2010. The creation of the position of the Commonwealth Incident Coordinator forms part of the Australian government’s all-hazards approach to crisis and consequence management.

The role of the Commonwealth Incident Coordinator is to coordinate response planning and the implementation of Australian government crisis management decisions across relevant domains. By delegating these powers to the Commonwealth Incident Coordinator, the Australian government will be better placed to respond in a fully coordinated fashion to rapidly developing security incidents.

For example, as part of a coordinated response to a terrorist incident, the Commonwealth Incident Coordinator could use the powers to direct an aircraft subject to a bomb threat to land at a particular airport, or park in a specific part of an airport, where emergency services are best placed to respond to the threat.

I will now describe the measures in the bill which amend the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003. Firstly, the bill inserts provisions to allow ship operators to be given exemptions from certain security requirements in certain circumstances, where there is no impact on the security outcome.

From time to time, Australian ships that are not required to be security regulated under the act need to travel overseas or to another Australian state or territory on an exceptional basis. These one-off voyages every five years or so are typically for maintenance purposes but mean that these ships must comply with all of the security obligations under the act, at a significant additional cost to their operations.

The amendment proposed in the bill would allow operators of Australian ships to apply to the secretary for an exemption from the requirement to hold an International Ship Security Certificate or a ship security plan. Such an exemption would only be granted in exceptional circumstances and if security in the maritime environment was not reduced. This amendment is consistent with that provided for in the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, convention, to which Australia is a signatory.

A similar situation exists for foreign flagged ships; they are occasionally granted an exemption by their flag state from complying with their requirement to hold an International Ship Security Certificate or its equivalent. Such an exemption is often granted to allow the ship to travel to Australia as part of a one-off overseas voyage to conduct maintenance on the ship, a similar situation to the one I just explained.

There is currently no ability under the act to recognise an exemption made by another contracting administration to the SOLAS convention, meaning that a foreign ship arriving in Australia without an International Ship Security Certificate is in contravention of the act. The proposed amendment would allow for regulations to be made prescribing certain kinds of regulated ships that are exempt from the requirement to have or obtain a valid ship security certificate on arrival in Australia.

Secondly, the bill makes amendments with regard to passenger ships to enable regulations to be made to define different classes of passenger ships and to enable screening officers to conduct frisk searches of passengers and crew.

Currently a ‘one size fits all’ approach is applied to passenger ship security regardless of the operational characteristics of the specific ship or class of ship. This approach does not allow individual factors, constraints and considerations to be taken into account when prescribing an appropriate and customised range of preventive security measures in relation to the level of threat for their operating environments.

This amendment would allow for the prescription of different classes of security regulated ships in the maritime security regulations. For example, this would allow passenger ships to be defined by any combination of size, passenger capacity, areas of geographical operation, type of items carried or the types of activities they conduct. It would allow for customised security measures to be developed and applied to each class, avoiding the issues attached to over- or under-regulation.

Passenger ship security will also be strengthened through the introduction of frisk search powers to enhance the screening and clearance of passengers and crew in certain circumstances. The establishment of frisk search powers for the passenger ship sector means that more effective security screening processes can be promptly introduced, should the nature and level of threat in the maritime environment suddenly escalate. The recent events of Christmas Day highlight the need to have a responsive security framework, adaptable to rapid changes in circumstances. The power to conduct frisk searches in certain circumstances already exists for aviation travellers and the proposed amendment would mirror these arrangements.

The bill will also provide greater flexibility to make regulations with regard to screening and clearing matters.

I propose to amend the act so that regulations can be made to address all necessary aspects of maritime security screening practices, and not be limited to the matters specified in that section.

Thirdly, the bill enables certain persons to be appointed as security assessment inspectors to conduct security assessments of maritime industry participants.

Currently the act does not have any explicit powers of entry into security regulated areas other than for departmental officers and law enforcement officers.

This amendment will enable the secretary to appoint a person as a security assessment inspector if that person meets criteria to be specified in regulations. Appointed security assessment inspectors will be able to survey the extant security environment at a regulated maritime site and examine the effectiveness of current security policies. This will enable timely responses to changing and emerging threats to be developed to ensure the regime continues to meet the threat of terrorism both now and into the future.

Fourthly, the bill provides for measures to allow the secretary of my department to delegate his powers under the MTOFSA, the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003, to agency heads and certain SES officers in other agencies in certain circumstances.

Currently, the secretary of my department may delegate all or any of their powers and functions under the act to an SES employee in my department only. This amendment would allow the secretary to delegate all or any of their powers and functions to the agency head of an agency that conducts national security activities and an SES employee in the Attorney-General’s Department. In respect of delegations to agency heads, these may be subdelegated within the agency to an SES band three employee.

This amendment would also allow the secretary to delegate his or her powers and functions to the Commonwealth Incident Coordinator and mirrors the aviation security amendment I mentioned earlier.

The ability to delegate powers externally across the aviation, maritime and offshore environments provides my department with the maximum flexibility within the legislative framework to enable an appropriate incident response to be made in unexpected and often urgent situations.

Finally, the bill makes some minor amendments to modernise image recording powers for maritime security inspectors. To modernise the options for use of recording media and to align with the newly introduced powers of a Security Assessment Inspector, the bill replaces the power to photograph equipment with the power to make a still or moving image. To correct a drafting anomaly, the bill introduces a similar power to allow for the recording of images by maritime security inspectors when inspecting equipment at a place, vehicle or vessel under the control of a regulated maritime industry participant, to align with their existing power to photograph on board a security regulated ship and on an offshore facility.

Conclusion

Just as terrorists will continue to alter their methods, so too must we ensure that our preventive transport security arrangements evolve to meet this threat. The Transport Security Legislation Amendment (2010 Measures No. 1) Bill 2010 will enhance the operation of the aviation and maritime security regimes for the benefit of our maritime, offshore and aviation industries and the Australian public. I am confident that the measures introduced in this bill will contribute to a transport system that is more secure against the threat of terrorism. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Coulton) adjourned.


The SPEAKER —Order! The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.