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Air Security Officers take off.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs Senator for Western Australia

31 December 2001

AIR SECURITY OFFICERS TAKE OFF The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, has announced that Air Security Officers would operate from today on Australian domestic flights.

Senator Ellison welcomed the co-operation of Australia’s airline industry, particularly Qantas, in moving towards the introduction of armed security officers on flights provided by Australian carriers.

Senator Ellison said the Air Security Officer (ASO) initiative was one of a number of Government measures being implemented to strengthen aviation and national security and assist in restoring public confidence in air travel.

The ASO program is designed specifically to defend Australian airlines against a terrorist act of the type which occurred on 11 September 2001.

"The Air Security Officer program aims to deter potential hijackers of Australian aviation interests and provide a degree of public reassurance to aviation passengers during periods of heightened anxiety about aviation security," Senator Ellison said.

"Air Security Officers have been highly trained and will operate within the parameters agreed with the airlines, including the normal arrangements in regard to the responsibilities of the Captain and crew. The Captain of the aircraft will accordingly remain in charge of the aircraft," Senator Ellison said.

Senator Ellison said, "Air Security Officers will be armed with handguns and not submachine guns as has been reported."

The training regime and operational tactics of the program are based on ‘minimum use of force’, with emphasis on ensuring that the Air Security Officers use only the appropriate and necessary force to restrain an assailant. All Air Security Officers have received extensive training in negotiation skills however still have the ability to use reasonable force appropriate to any threat.

Senator Ellison said the Government would not disclose when and where Air Security Officers would be operational to guarantee the covert nature of the program.

The first group of 22 Australian Air Security Officers completed their training in mid December and it is expected that by the end of next year a total of 111 Air Security Officers will have completed their training and be operating on domestic and international flights.

MEDIA INQUIRIES : CHRISTIAN PORTER 0419 635 122

 

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