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Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Page: 12253

National Security

Mr RANDALL (Canning) (14:42): My question is to the Minister for Justice. Will the minister explain to the House how the government is supporting the work of the Australian Federal Police at our international airports to keep Australians safe?

Mr KEENAN (StirlingMinister for Justice) (14:42): I thank the member for Canning for that question. He knows that the government remains committed to making sure that our law enforcement agencies have the resources that they need to do their job of keeping us safe and secure. All members will be aware of the increased police presence at Parliament House, and we are taking the same approach to our international airports.

Airports are critical national infrastructure. They are our gateways to the world and a vital part of Australia's continued economic growth. The Australian Federal Police are at the front line of protecting our national security and our airports. They would be our first response if an act of terrorism were to occur. It is vitally important that they have world-class facilities to support them in their role.

I would like to laud the Howard government for, 10 years ago, having the foresight to invest $130 million in new policing facilities for the AFP at our international airports. Since then, at our international airports the Australian Federal Police facilities have been significantly upgraded. I recently had the privilege of opening the new operations centre at Perth International Airport.

Facilities of this type support the AFP airport operations officers who are the uniformed security presence at airports. They support the canine teams, the air security officers—sometimes colloquially referred to as 'air marshals', who provide an armed response in-flight if required—and the joint operations intelligence groups that collect, analyse and disseminate intelligence relating to criminal activities and threats to security. These teams consist of representatives from the police, Customs and Border Protection and state law enforcement bodies. The Department of Infrastructure, the Australian Crime Commission, quarantine, the Department of Immigration and ASIO also provide officers for these teams as necessary.

As with all measures the government is taking to police the terror threat this requires a coordinated response from our national security partners. At international airports and around the country, AFP officers are sworn-in as special constables. This means that they have the ability to police both federal and state law, and to combat any threat that might arise.

With the national terrorism threat raised from medium to high, it is vital that the AFP has the resources and the tools that it needs to do its job. That is why we have invested $64 million as part of the $630 million counter-terrorism package that the government is pushing through at the moment. Australians do not need to feel alarmed at the increased police presence at our airports or at other significant national infrastructure. But when they see it, they should feel reassured that this government is doing everything we can to ensure their safety.