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Monday, 13 February 2017
Page: 761


Mr CHESTER (GippslandMinister for Infrastructure and Transport) (16:48): I thank the member for Grayndler for his constructive contribution. I also thank him for flagging the opposition's intention to support the Transport Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2016.

As the member for Grayndler indicated, safety of our air travellers must be a paramount consideration for the government. We have a long and proud history and, as the member correctly indicated, we have an enviable safety record. Eternal vigilance is the key to addressing new and emerging threats, and it is highly desirable that, as much as possible, we can have a bipartisan approach to issues of national security. I am sure the travelling public and the broader community appreciate the willingness of members on both sides to work together as much as they possibly can to achieve positive outcomes in this space.

The bill will ensure Australia's transport security framework remains responsive to the evolving security environment and efficient as the transport sector grows into the future. The bill amends the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003to introduce strengthened airside security measures at Australia's major international airports and to increase the efficiency of government regulatory assessment processes.

A terrorist attack on Australian aviation would result in loss of life, severe economic consequences, public loss of confidence in both the government and the aviation sector, and would damage Australia's repetition as a safe and secure destination for international air travel. This bill will strengthen Australia's already robust aviation security system by allowing the implementation of screening in airside areas.

This security screening will be applied to airport workers who have access to passenger aircraft in the course of their employment, as well as their vehicles and any items they may carry. This new airside security screening will form part of a package of measures to mitigate the insider threat to Australian aviation and is planned to be rolled out at Australia's highest-risk airports over the next year.

Implementation of these measures will be progressive, allowing the industry time to undertake any necessary capital works and to hire and train staff. Aviation workers who are subject to security screening under the new arrangements will be afforded the same protections as passengers, to ensure they are not subject to racial or religious discrimination and that they their privacy is protected. These measures will ensure that Australians continue to enjoy safe and secure air travel and that Australia remains at the forefront of international best practice.

The bill also implements measures to allow the secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to delegate his powers in the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 to lower-level Australian Public Service employees.

Given the predicted growth in the transport sector and the evolving security environment, these amendments will give the government administrative flexibility. This will ensure that regulatory submissions can be effectively assessed in statutory time frames and that industry demands can continue to be met.

The secretary remains responsible for determining which powers under the acts are appropriate to be delegated. Significant and complex regulatory reform will remain at senior levels, while only simple regulatory decisions will be delegated to lower-level employees. Again, I thank the member for Grayndler and thank the opposition for its support. I commend this bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.