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Democrats query ASIO airport screening regime.

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Senator Lyn Allison

Australian Democrats Transport Spokesperson

6 May 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/281

Democrats query ASIO airport

screening regime

A new security-screening regime for airport staff could jeopardise the jobs of current

employees and leave employers open to unfair dismissal claims according to Democrats transport spokesperson, Senator Lyn Allison.

A Senate Committee heard today that up to 70,000 current employees would be subjected to ASIO security checks to determine whether they have a ‘propensity to political violence’. Employees will lose their jobs if they are not granted the security clearance by ASIO.

Senator Allison said, “It is of grave concern that the Department of Transport does not have a clear understanding of what constitutes ‘a propensity to political violence’.

“The Department cannot answer whether or not an airport coffee shop employee involved in Vietnam War demonstrations would be denied a security clearance.”

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee will summon ASIO to answer these questions at its next meeting.

Senator Allison said it is concerning that ASIO will not be required to disclose the reasons for denying a security clearance to employees or employers.

“Whilst it will be possible to appeal the rejection of a security clearance application, it would be very difficult for somebody to mount a case without knowing why his or her application was rejected.

“Airport security is a serious matter, however the reasons for denying clearances have to be disclosed in order to prevent random ham-fisted dismissals.

“The Democrats are concerned that the regime will allow employment discrimination to be cloaked by National security imperatives.” Senator Allison concluded.

Contact: John Derry 0408 056 167