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Air security officers.



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Media Release SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs Senator for Western Australia

E245/01

19 November 2001

Air Security Officers

"Following the events of September 11, the Government decided to introduce armed security officers selectively on flights provided by Australian air carriers," Senator Ellison said.

The Government determined that the Australian Protective Service (APS) will be the Commonwealth agency charged with the responsibility of implementing the Air Security Officer (ASO) Programme by the end of the year.

"This initiative is another demonstration of the Howard Government’s commitment to fighting terrorism," Senator Ellison said.

The ASO Programme will provide an anti-hijacking capability for Australian civil aviation through the use of covert armed security personnel on board aircraft.

The APS already provides a Counter Terrorist First Response (CTFR) capability at major Australian Airports that includes airside and terminal precinct protection, detection dogs and a bomb appraisal capability.

All potential ASO recruits will undergo stringent selection processes that include rigorous psychological, medical and fitness testing. Applicants will then have to successfully complete intensive specialist training.

ASO training will be conducted in Australia by specially trained Australian officers utilising world best practice. Extensive liaison has and will continue to occur with the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The first ASO training course will be completed by 20 December 2001.

Initial ASO trainees have been recruited internally from the APS and advertisements have been placed in major daily newspapers to supplement progressively these numbers.

"In implementing the ASO programme, extensive liaison with the aviation industry and with Federal, State and Territory Police will also be undertaken," Senator Ellison said.

Senator Ellison confirmed that the APS expects the ASO Programme to be operational by the end of the year.

Media Inquiries: Linda Reynolds 02 6277 7260 or 0403 252 571