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Shadow Minister calls for tighter airport security after arrest of two men found in the baggage handling area at Sydney International Airport.

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Friday 21 October 2005

Shadow Minister calls for tighter airport security after arrest of two men found in the baggage handling area at Sydney International Airport


TONY E ASTLEY: There are new concerns over security at Australian airports after two men were charged this week with breaching federal aviation laws. 


They've been charged after being found in the baggage handling areas of Sydney international airport on Tuesday. 


Just last month British security expert Sir John Wheeler handed down a damning report into Australian airport security.  


In a completely separate case in May, a court was told that some baggage handlers at the international airport were helping smuggle cocaine into Australia. 


Louise Yaxley reports. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: Qantas says the two men were found with restricted security passes in a baggage area of the international terminal on Tuesday. They were immediately reported to the Federal Police, they've been charged with breaches of federal aviation security laws, and are due to appear in court next month. 


The Transport Minister, Warren Truss, wasn't able to give details, but his spokeswoman says it was good to see that workers in a controlled area of the airport were conscious of security and aware of the need for people to wear the proper security ID cards. 


Labor's Homeland Security spokesman, Arch Bevis, says the case shows just how crucial it is that airport security doesn't fail. 


ARCH BEVIS: Any failure in that chain of activity is fatal to the entire security system. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: The men previously worked for a company which does contract work for Qantas, including baggage handling. They now work for Patricks, where they’re employed at the terminal as ground staff. But they were detected in the baggage handling area. 


Labor's Arch Bevis says it's so sensitive, there can be no room for any security slip-ups. 


ARCH BEVIS: All of the international baggage that goes into the planes was supposed to be X-rayed before the start of this year. And yet at our major airport, our largest airport in the country, we still don't X-ray 100 per cent of that baggage. 


We have problems in regional airports highlighted by Sir John Wheeler. He in fact called for a review of the security situation at our major regional airports, there's been no move yet by the Government to implement that decision, and a raft of others that he raised concerns about. 


So the Government needs to actually get its focus on practical measures that safeguard the Australian public, rather than focusing - as it has done - on political spin in this debate. 


LOUISE YAXLEY: There's been a Federal Government crackdown on aviation security identification cards and new checks on the cardholders, because they have access to crucial areas of airports. Mr Bevis says that might not have gone far enough. 


ARCH BEVIS: If there are examples where people have been issued with cards wrongly, or where cards have been forged - and that really is a very, very serious matter - and the Government is going to have to - with industry - get on top of that issue really quickly, otherwise our entire aviation security system will become worthless. 


TONY EASTLEY: Labor's Homeland Security spokesman, Arch Bevis.