Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download PDFDownload PDF 

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee
23/05/2012
Estimates
INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO
Office of Transport Security

Office of Transport Security

CHAIR: I welcome the Office of Transport Security.

Senator FAWCETT: Gentlemen, good morning. I have questions about securing the air cargo supply chain. In the budget, $19.6 million is identified as savings. Could you talk to me about the aims of this program now, given that funding appears to have been removed. How is it going to be funded? How are the outcomes going to be achieved?

Mr Retter : In terms of the policy intent and the outcome that the government seeks to obtain, there is no change in our outcome. Obviously the approach will change slightly in that the $19.6 million has not been reprofiled. Therefore, that is an issue that we will take up with industry in terms of how the equipment, where it is required, is introduced where it is appropriate in the supply chain.

Senator FAWCETT: ‘Reprofiled’ is a very interesting word for removed, slashed or cut. Does the program extend to both domestic and international cargo?

Mr Retter : The intention is that we take a phased approach. The government has made a conscious decision to focus on the international export cargo as the first phase and then move to domestic. We are doing that for a number of reasons, mainly because of what we perceive to be both our international obligations—indeed, those things that we have signed up to do—and because of the risk profile for export versus domestic.

Senator FAWCETT: Is the freight load forecast to increase over the coming FYDP, for example?

Mr Retter : Everything that I have read over the last few years has indicated forecasts for air cargo volumes to increase both domestically and internationally.

Senator FAWCETT: Given the reporting recently about, for example, illegal weapons, drugs and other contraband coming into Australia, do you expect the risk to also increase in coming years?

Mr Retter : Those sort of matters are matters for the Attorney-General’s portfolio and, notably, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the AFP. But in terms of the areas that the Office of Transport Security focuses on, which is really in the context of air cargo and the detection of explosives or IEDs within the cargo, we are working very closely with a number of countries overseas and, as part of the ICAO working group, looking exactly at the issue you describe. We are proactively looking at risk assessment methodologies, inspection regimes and targeted inspections, where appropriate, to address the very risk that you are alluding to. I do not want to get too much into the operational detail, though.

Senator FAWCETT: Sure. So what has been the total expenditure on the program to date?

Mr Retter : I would have to take that on notice. The expenditure would be related directly to the staff that I have working on this issue and any travel that they have done domestically or internationally. It would vary from year to year.

Mr Wilson : In terms of expenditure on the program itself, as in the administered funding, there has been no expenditure to date.

Senator FAWCETT: So what consultation? You mentioned engagement with industry. How extensive is that engagement? What are your plans in terms of who is going to bear the cost for this security now?

Mr Retter : We have an ongoing dialogue with the cargo industry in Australia through the cargo working group, which deals directly with security-related policy settings, regulations and initiatives. We have been in ongoing discussion with the industry relating to both the announcements from February 2010 related to the Regulated Shipper Scheme and the enhanced air cargo inspection regimes. On both of those issues we have been closely working with industry. We will continue to engage with those bodies. We also have extensive consultation planned, and indeed it has already occurred in a number of workshops around Australia in 2011 and ongoing workshops this year.

Senator FAWCETT: When do you anticipate this whole process will actually result in a new set of guidelines?

Mr Retter : We are working on finalising this year the policy settings related to the Regulated Shipper Scheme and at the same time working on the enhanced air cargo examination settings. In terms of the finalisation of them and associated interdependencies that will relate to rolling out the program, we would hope in the second half of calendar year 2014 to commence rolling out those programs.

Senator FAWCETT: When they are implemented, is there funding that is going to be drawn from an existing program, or is there going to be new expenditure to enable the rollout when that occurs?

Mr Wilson : At this stage, that would be a decision of a later budget. At this stage there is no government funding available to be provided to the industry.

Senator FAWCETT: One area where funding is provided is security upgrades at regional airports. I would like to move to that if I can. Obviously they are due to come into effect on 1 July this year. Can you tell me how many airports have been required to upgrade their security?

Mr Retter : It is 21.

Senator FAWCETT: Can you provide me with a list of them? I am happy for you to take that on notice.

Mr Retter : I can provide you with that information now if you wish.

Senator FAWCETT: On notice is fine. Have many airports actually undertaken and completed upgrades at this point in time?

Mr Retter : Of the 21, three have already commenced screening. But, in terms of upgrades, a number of the airports are required to undertake some infrastructure upgrades, as I understand it, as part of the introduction into service of the equipment that will be used to screen.

Senator FAWCETT: How confident are you that all of those 21 airports will be able to screen by 1 July?

Mr Retter : Of the remaining 18 that are due to commence on 1 July, I am confident that 16 are on track. Two have had some difficulties, but we are working closely with those two airports to ensure that they get across the line by 1 July.

Senator FAWCETT: If they do not, what will happen?

Mr Retter : We have a number of options in terms of how we would deal with those airports. I would like to think we will not get to that point. In fact, I am pretty confident that we will not get to that point.

Senator FAWCETT: Is Horn Island one of them?

Mr Retter : Yes, it is.

Senator FAWCETT: Why is Horn Island struggling to meet the deadline?

Mr Retter : I think the challenges at Horn Island reflect some recent changes that have occurred within the leadership at the airport which have exacerbated the challenges of decision-making and implementation. In response to that, we have worked closely with the Horn Island airport and the associated council and, in fact, have provided expert advice, which the department has funded, to assist them in actually bridging that gap in experience so that they can get back on track to deliver a security outcome by 1 July.

Senator FAWCETT: Do you have any figures on how much these upgrades have cost at the 21 airports?

Mr Retter : Are you talking about infrastructure upgrades?

Senator FAWCETT: Total costs.

Mr Retter : The total costs of any of the screening equipment that they are having to install—and this does vary by type depending upon what sort of category of regional airport they are—have been provided by the Commonwealth.

Senator FAWCETT: Does that include through-life support costs of maintaining capital?

Mr Retter : No, that is capital expenditure.

Senator FAWCETT: So there will be ongoing costs, then, for them to maintain?

Mr Retter : There are operating costs which each of the airports will be required to deal with.

Senator FAWCETT: And are they required to have an annual or regular inspection of the equipment in terms of its efficacy?

Mr Retter : There are requirements in terms of maintenance of the equipment. Most airports, when they acquire this equipment, build into that procurement ongoing maintenance capability so that the supplier of the equipment is required to visit on a number of occasions throughout the life of the equipment to ensure it is maintained. There are also activities that occur on a daily basis which are related to ensuring that the equipment is appropriately calibrated and operating effectively. We in turn will spend a fair bit of our time and effort with inspectors visiting those airports, particularly the new entrant airports, to assist them in ensuring they are meeting all of their requirements—not just the technical standards of the equipment but also the procedures, the application of the law et cetera.

Senator FAWCETT: Two questions follow from that. Firstly, around the procurement you have mentioned that good procurement policy is to rope in your through-life support contract. You have also said the Commonwealth is purchasing the equipment.

Mr Retter : No, the airports are purchasing the equipment. The Commonwealth is providing funding to assist in that process.

Senator FAWCETT: Does that funding cover the cost of a through-life support contract that may be wrapped in to the procurement?

Mr Retter : I will have to take that on notice.

Senator FAWCETT: Take that on notice. Can you also give us an indicative cost as to how much that through-life support component is expected to be over the life of the equipment?

Mr Retter : Certainly.

Senator FAWCETT: Secondly, you said you are going to go out and visit frequently. Is that a cost-recovery exercise or is that funded by the Commonwealth?

Mr Retter : It is not a cost-recovery exercise. We will use existing officers from OTS to do that work.

Mr Wilson : I might add that, as the airports come online, we will spend additional resources to assist and facilitate to ensure that they meet the regulatory standards. Over time, as we and Mr Retter’s division—as the regulator of transport security—become more confident and comfortable with the individual airports, they will form just part of the ongoing regulatory and compliance processes that we have in place for airports within the Australian security context.

Senator FAWCETT: Are you aware of any airports that are proposing to raise fees to the travelling public or operators to cover the cost of these upgrades?

Mr Retter : Yes.

Senator FAWCETT: How many airports and by how much?

Mr Retter : It varies from airport to airport depending upon the number of passengers, the categorisation of the airport and the costs associated with the operation of those facilities. For example, a regional airport that has one flight a week that has a screening point operating for two hours a day will have a different cost profile to an airport that has multiple flights occurring every day. Therefore, it will have increased operating costs. It could vary from $10 up to a figure depending upon what the airport profile is.

Senator COLBECK: Do you have any numbers on any of those?

Mr Wilson : We do not have them here. I can take it on notice to provide them.

Senator COLBECK: I would appreciate it if you can provide us on notice with the details of the individual cost increases based on—

Mr Retter : The cost decisions are very much the airport’s decisions. We will have figures on passenger numbers, but that is it.

Mr Wilson : We will attempt to obtain information from the individual airports.

Senator COLBECK: I appreciate that. So you should be able to get hold of costs to operate over a cycle and number of passengers. That will potentially allow a calculation to be made based on those numbers. Is that right?

Mr Wilson : Yes.

Senator COLBECK: I appreciate that—on notice. Thank you.

Senator FAWCETT: Given the consultation that you are obviously having with the industry, I am surprised that you do not have a feel for the flow-on costs of this measure to the travelling public. What we are talking about here—that $10, $20, and up to $50 that I have heard in some cases—is a flow-on cost from this measure that the travelling public will have to meet. As part of your business planning cost-benefit analysis, you have not sought that feedback from industry to understand what the flow-on impact is going to be?

Mr Wilson : As Mr Retter indicated, we have had conversations with the individual airports. We also have been made aware, probably by the same sources as you, of the different price increases that are likely to flow through to the industry associated with the introduction of these security measures. We undertook a regulation impact statement prior to the decision being made by the government in 2009 to introduce this measure, so we are aware of the fact that there will be additional costs and we are aware that those costs will vary between the individual airports.

Senator FAWCETT: But as part of your regulatory impact statement do you look at operations that are on the margins—we are talking regional centres here—where often the choice between somebody flying or choosing road transport is a determinant as to whether that service continues? And $50 a ticket is a fair increase in terms of somebody making that decision. So I am surprised that you have not actually got some detailed feedback about the flow-on impact to the potential viability of some services.

Mr Wilson : I have not been advised of any services that will close or are at risk of closure through this individual measure.

Senator FAWCETT: I can give you one. Alliance flies to Coober Pedy, which is not one of your listed airports, on a charter basis. They do it with groups of seniors who go out for tourism. Coober Pedy is heavily reliant on tourism. The Fokker aircraft just fall over the 20,000 limit. The advice that Alliance sought from the department last year was that, because the passengers who got on the plane were screened and were the same passengers coming home, there was no requirement for remote screening. Everyone was happy with that. They were then advised that that would change—that that was no longer the case and they would have to screen. They wrote to the department in December last year and did not receive a reply until April this year, which indicated that they will need to screen at Coober Pedy, even though it is the same group of people. The current situation is that that service is now at risk.

Mr Wilson : I will have to take that on notice to be able to provide you with a detailed response to that specific issue. With regard to the implementation of this policy, one thing the government has done is introduce an airport classification scheme to ensure that the airports can adjust the screening arrangements to best suit the risk profile of the individual airports. Mr Retter might be able to provide some more detail with regard to that.

Mr Retter : We introduced what I would call a high degree of flexibility in the screening arrangements through the categorisation approach to the airports. We did that on the basis of the type of aircraft flying in—that is, whether they were between 20,000 and 30,000 or over 30,000 kilograms. We also based it on the number of passengers going through each airport. Our calculations were essentially that, if you had more than 50,000 passengers each year going through that particular airport and/or you had aircraft over 30,000 being used for RPT or open charter services, you would be a category 5 airport. If you had a lesser number of passengers—from memory, the figure is between 30,000 and 50,000—you would be a category 4 airport. Category 3 is below 30,000.

The issue there is that in each category there is a different form of screening allowed. It is less costly as you go down from 3 through to 5. Indeed, my experience is that the costs associated with the category 4 and category 5 airports will be far less than those at category 3. My calculation, to go back to your question about costs, just on average, is that the average screening point at a category 3 airport would cost, depending upon the number of hours, somewhere between $600,000 and $1 million in operating costs a year. With 50,000 passengers, I would see it as unusual if the ticket price were to go up more than $20 a ticket.

There is another point I would like to clarify. I made the point before that many contracts going forward would have through-life support in there. I am told by my staff that that is not the case. In fact, the guidelines do not allow ongoing maintenance to be included in the procurement contract. So I apologise for that error. That is something that I will chase up when I go back. But we will still endeavour to give you the appropriate costs as we have requested, noting that maintenance is not included in the initial procurement cost.

Senator FAWCETT: Mr Retter, thank you for that. It still does not help the operators and the people of Coober Pedy, who are looking for this tourism input into their town. I am assuming Coober Pedy is not one of your 21 airports. Therefore, it does not have the passenger movements to fit that classification. What you are telling me, or at least what I think I am hearing, is that your risk analysis was based on the number of passenger movements. So if an airport falls outside of that category altogether, in the case of a small charter operation, what is the risk basis for requiring them to do the screening just because the aircraft are over a given weight?

Mr Retter : The fundamental concern was the weight of the aircraft because of the possibility of the aircraft being used as a weapon. The figure of 20,000 was confirmed by the government on two separate occasions after some detailed analysis. The issue in terms of Coober Pedy and what are essentially open charter flights going to tourist destinations, such as Coober Pedy, can be solved in a couple of ways. The airport at Coober Pedy, if it had the capacity, could take on a screening function similar to that of category 5.

Senator FAWCETT: Could you describe that?

Mr Retter : Yes. Category 5 involves the use of ETD for passengers and baggage and the hand searching of bags where required. It does not require X-ray machines for either checked bag screening or passenger screening. So it is a light touch. We have suggested to airlines such as Alliance that they could in fact choose to take that function in a portable way with them on those flights. There is the capacity, in my view—and I think, from memory, the minister has written to Alliance and the other stakeholders on this issue—for an airline to receive funding to allow them to purchase the screening equipment that would allow them to perform that function on departure from each of those airports. That would meet our requirements. We see that as being a flexible approach to meeting the need. The issue of numbers of passengers really goes to the issue of facilitation. In other words, we are making conscious decisions for categories of airports with relatively small numbers of passengers that you can actually do a more intensive, timely search using methods other than X-ray. Where you have over 50,000 passengers per annum, you tend to need technology to assist you with the throughput time to get passengers on board an aircraft and departing on time.

Senator FAWCETT: Sure. The issue, though, for a company like Alliance again comes down to the through-life cost, which is both maintenance of the equipment and training for staff. Given that cabin staff are not consistent on all the flights, all their staff require that training. If you are looking at the outcome of security, one of the options that have been put forward in this case is that the tour operator, who is not the airport operator and not the airline operator, is happy to actually provide the service, but they are not eligible for the funding. Has there been any consideration to making parties other than the airport or the airline eligible for the funding if they can demonstrate that they will achieve the outcome that is required? They would have a lower training base, if you like, because they will have the same people there each time.

Mr Retter : Not to date, no.

Senator FAWCETT: Would that be considered if it were requested?

Mr Wilson : If it were requested, we would evaluate it and provide advice to the minister.

Mr Retter : I want to back that up. Whilst it has not been considered, if they were to request to become essentially a screening authority, we would consider that on its merits in terms of their capacity to undertake that function.

Senator FAWCETT: I want to move on from Coober Pedy to airports that have upgraded but lose their capability. Major airports have multiple pieces of equipment. If one piece fails for some reason, what is the standby plan? What measure could they implement to still get a flight away that day when their piece of equipment has suddenly started letting smoke out of the box or whatever?

Mr Retter : In each case where we have an airport of a particular category with, if you like, primary screening procedures and methods to be followed, there will be alternative procedures nominated. They will have to be followed if the primary piece of equipment fails for some reason.

Senator COLBECK: They would have to have a plan?

Mr Retter : That will be stipulated in an aviation screening notice which will be served on the screening authority, who has to ensure that those procedures are followed. Indeed, staff from OTS will be out there to ensure that those procedures are followed and there is a good understanding of the back-up procedures that need to be undertaken.

Senator FAWCETT: If an airport were unable to find staff to do the screening—I am thinking here of mining communities, for example, where obviously there are many high-paying employment opportunities—what would OTS’s response be? How would you work with an airport that just literally could not find staff to do the screening?

Mr Retter : At this stage, whilst we are aware of a couple of mining communities where that is a challenge, to date, we believe that there are solutions that could be explored with the mining companies. They are indeed exploring their own solutions, as I understand it, and have come to views about how they can procure and sustain the staff they need to undertake that work. I am thinking about places like Weipa and so on. But it is a challenge and I acknowledge it is a challenge. There are some airports within the 21 which have elected to go to some of the bigger provider companies that provide security functions and have the ability to presumably source flexibly the type of staff that are needed from other roles that might exist within those communities. So there are a range of options that are being looked at to actually provide the staff. I have not been confronted with a situation yet where somebody has said, 'Look, we cannot find anyone to do the job.'

Senator FAWCETT: If people do come to that situation where they are struggling either with staff or, like Coober Pedy is, the whole concept and they come back to you seeking guidance or a different way to achieve an acceptable outcome, will you give an undertaking that your response will be quicker than the December to April time frame that the Coober Pedy situation involved? Do you think that is an acceptable time frame for a response that involves the viability of a business?

Mr Retter : Senator, in terms of the response to your earlier question, which we have taken on notice, I would need to look at the facts before I respond to that. But, in terms of a response to an operational imperative and a problem that might arise, obviously our response would be quick.

Senator FAWCETT: What is your target response to an operational imperative? What would you seek to respond by?

Mr Retter : It depends on the complexity, Senator. Obviously, where it is a matter of urgency, within a number of days. It depends on the particular issue that we are confronting and the time frame available for a response.

Senator FAWCETT: This is the last question on this measure. There is some talk about screening passengers onboard aircraft. Could you describe what circumstances that would be implemented in and how that would work?

Mr Retter : I think what people are alluding to there is having the capacity onboard to conduct screening. That is what I alluded to before in terms of the Alliance solution, where it had been suggested that one option for Alliance to consider was to have portable equipment a la the category 5 situation with staff who could be multiply trained—presumably they are cabin staff—to undertake that work on departure from a particular airport. That is what I believe was alluded to.

CHAIR: We are wrapping up here at 11.20, and Senator Colbeck and Senator Williams have questions too. Can I get an indication of how long you will need, Senator Williams?

Senator WILLIAMS: Ten minutes, please.

Senator FAWCETT: This will be my last question, then, Chair.

CHAIR: Thank you, Senator Fawcett.

Senator FAWCETT: What kind of volume and weight considerations might an airline have to consider with the portable systems? Obviously, the more volume and weight, the fewer passengers and the less revenue.

Mr Retter : That is true, Senator. It is an option. I have not got, and will have to take on notice, the actual weights of the pieces of equipment we are talking about. We are talking about things like hand wands, portable ETD machines and potentially a portable walk-through metal detector. The weight is not excessive, but, yes, there is some weight and obviously there is a trade-off there.

Senator COLBECK: Is the RIS that you did a public document?

Mr Wilson : It is, Senator.

Senator COLBECK: I was just looking for it on the website, that is all.

Mr Wilson : I am not sure if it would still be on our website, Senator.

Senator COLBECK: That is why I asked the question, because I could not find it. I could be accused of having had a bloke's look, I do admit.

Mr Wilson : Allow me to check, Senator, and I will get back to you.

Senator COLBECK: Thanks.

Senator WILLIAMS: Who have we got for the maritime security identification cards for foreign seafarers? You, Mr Retter?

Mr Retter : Me and Mr Thomas, who is acting for Mr Dreezer.

Senator WILLIAMS: Will there be any implications for OTS if the shipping reform package is implemented?

Mr Retter : We have worked through the issue of potential changes to the regulations to allow, where required, a foreign seaman to receive an MSIC should that be required as part of the shipping reform package as it relates to ships that are based out of Australia but which may well come to Australia under the package.

Senator WILLIAMS: So reports that foreign seafarers will have to obtain MSICs are correct?

Mr Retter : No. They do not have to, Senator. But, should the individual choose to, we will amend the regulations to allow that to occur.

Senator WILLIAMS: Is OTS considering mandating MSICs for foreign seafarers?

Mr Retter : I think I have answered that by saying it is not mandated. It will be an option for a foreign seafarer to obtain a card should they wish to.

Senator WILLIAMS: If they wish to get an MSIC, will they be able to be issued overseas?

Mr Retter : Yes. They can apply from overseas, Senator.

Senator WILLIAMS: So they can be issued overseas?

Mr Retter : It will be issued from Australia through the normal process, through an issuing body. But they can apply for the card from overseas.

Senator WILLIAMS: What measures will be in place to ensure compliance with the new scheme?

Mr Retter : I am not sure exactly what you mean in terms of—

Senator WILLIAMS: As far as the issuing of these?

Mr Retter : The existing scheme is one where you essentially are not involved. In other words, at present, foreign seafarers do not have access to an MSIC. Where somebody does apply for an MSIC and they are wearing the card, they will have not only certain obligations and responsibilities in terms of wearing that card but also certain rights in terms of access to secure areas within the port.

Senator WILLIAMS: Have you given any consideration to the potential security risk of issuing MSICs to foreign seafarers under the security framework? Has that been taken into consideration?

Mr Retter : Yes, Senator. We work closely with other government agencies on this issue. We are aware that these foreign seafarers would already have visas issued and have been subject to checks as part of that process. We are comfortable that the risks are manageable and appropriate.

Senator WILLIAMS: When you say the risks are manageable, how would they be managed?

Mr Retter : Well, in the sense that there are mitigations through the background-checking process both for the seafarer visa and through the background-checking process for an MSIC that I believe are robust enough to largely mitigate the risks you are alluding to.

Senator WILLIAMS: I will move now to the issue of securing the air cargo supply chain. The government has identified $19.6 million in savings.

CHAIR: We have covered that.

Senator WILLIAMS: Good. Sorry. I was not here for that. You have done most of the regional airports issues, David?

Senator FAWCETT: Yes.

Senator WILLIAMS: Good.

CHAIR: It looks like he has stolen your thunder, Senator Williams.

Senator WILLIAMS: He has. I think that covers it for me, Chair.

CHAIR: I will go to Senator Colbeck. If there is some time left, we will flick back to Senator Fawcett.

Senator COLBECK: I want to go to a number of incidents that have occurred in ports around the country with activist invasions of vessels. I will start with the boarding of the Al-Shuwaikh on 4 April. There were nine activists involved in that action. Are you familiar with the circumstances around that incident?

Mr Retter : I am aware of the generic incident, not the line-by-line, minute-by-minute activities of the protesters or the response, Senator.

Senator COLBECK: So what role would the office play in an incident of that nature, then?

Mr Retter : The security regimes that the MTOFSA and associated regulations provide are largely ones of providing preventive security for a major terrorism activity or other form of unlawful activity. There is some crossover here with criminal access or trespass. Indeed, our legislation, where it applies, applies at times where zones are declared and enforced by the port authority. Our legislation can be used, and has been used, to prosecute protesters who have circumvented the port security regime and have illegally boarded vessels or interfered with other infrastructure at a number of ports around Australia. The most recent examples that I can recall are down at the port of Fremantle, where there have been a number of incidents where protesters who accessed the port waterside were in fact charged by the Western Australian police under our legislation and not Western Australian legislation.

Senator COLBECK: So is the incident at Fremantle on 4 April one that would have—

Mr Retter : I think it is one of those incidents that I recall is before the courts, if not already dealt with, and the charges, as I understand it from the Western Australian police, were charges referred under the MTOFSA and associated regs.

Senator COLBECK: What about the incidents that have occurred in Hobart, where there have been a number of circumstances of activists boarding vessels, climbing masts of cranes on ships, preventing loading taking place and delaying vessels? Again, they are entering those restricted zones around the ports. There was another one, I think only about a fortnight ago, in Hobart. Do you have any information around them?

Mr Retter : Senator, I do not have the specifics, as I said before, of minute by minute how they accessed the port. We examined them with the port authorities in terms of what vulnerabilities those types of incidents might reveal from our concerns. I guess my point here is that the response to those incidents, once it became apparent that there were people who had trespassed upon the port illegally, was, in my understanding, reasonably swift from the Tasmanian police in the particular incident you have just referred to. If the suggestion is that our ports should be such that nobody at any point can get into a port either by landside or sea, I would suggest that the costs of such a regime would be disproportionate to the threat and the risks.

Senator COLBECK: Look, I do not dispute what you are saying and I am not arguing about that. I am just trying to get to the bottom of the actions that are occurring as a result of these vessel invasions by these activists. It is becoming a regular occurrence. I want to go on in respect of the—

Mr Wilson : Is your question about the actual criminal results of the actions?

Senator COLBECK: I am certainly interested in that. I do not know whether you have that information or whether you can take it on notice for me.

Mr Wilson : We can take it on notice. It will have been a response, I believe, by the jurisdictional police. We can inquire as to what charges have or have not been laid and what the situation is with regard to those incidents in Hobart.

Mr Retter : To reinforce that point, jurisdictional police can use state based law—notably, trespass—or they can choose, as the Western Australian police did in the Fremantle port incident that you refer to, to use our legislation to prosecute those individuals. As Mr Wilson said, we can check on the results of those prosecutions.

Senator COLBECK: I suppose to a certain extent my point is that we have gone to fairly significant measures, quite rightly, to secure our ports. Ports these days are surrounded by fences. If I go kayaking down the river where I live, I have to maintain a distance from the vessels in the port. That is part of the process. There is a vessel that is quite often out there maintaining that safe distance, if you like, or the prescribed distance from the port. Kids these days cannot do what I used to do, which is go to the port to go fishing. There are all these sorts of activities. You have people who are professional activists deliberately getting onto vessels and breaching port security and effectively all we do is pat them on the head and give them a tap on the bum and say, 'Off you go.' You have a cost to shipping companies. You have costs to the community through policing. There does not appear to me to be any impact on these people from these deliberate professional activities, in a lot of cases. It is almost a group of usual suspects that are out there undertaking these activities. As a result of the one event in Hobart, we have even been listed as a piracy risk on the maritime security solutions website based in the Netherlands. That is the sort of impact that it has in a global sense, yet I have not heard of any significant repercussions for the activists who are invading these vessels.

Mr Wilson : As I said, Senator, we will provide you with details about the most recent events in Hobart, which will highlight what charges or actions have been taken by the Tasmanian police.

Senator COLBECK: Are you aware of any suspicion about an attempted bioterrorism attack on the vessel in Fremantle on 4 April?

Mr Retter : No, Senator.

Senator COLBECK: There was a claim that the feedwater had been contaminated on that ship. You are not aware of that?

Mr Retter : I certainly am not aware of it, no.

Senator COLBECK: So are you aware of any investigation that occurred around that?

Mr Retter : I am aware of the investigations that were being conducted by the Western Australian police in relation to the illegal entry and trespass at the port. I was not aware of any allegations relating to any contamination or activity by somebody to contaminate items at port or on the ship.

Senator COLBECK: So effectively it comes back to a state jurisdiction decision about whether the activity is managed under state or Commonwealth legislation?

Mr Retter : All of the ports that we have talked about have pretty detailed response arrangements which go to the jurisdictional police. When jurisdictional police apprehend an individual, they have choices about which legislation they may use. Increasingly—I guess this is my point—we are seeing more jurisdictions looking closely at our legislation because of the options it provides them. The only issue there is that the security zones need to be active and in place at the time the offence is alleged to have occurred for that legislation to be effectively used.

Senator COLBECK: What do you mean by that?

Mr Retter : In other words, there are ports where security zones are turned on and off from time to time. That is because, quite frankly, the risk exists when a particular ship might be in place or doing a particular activity. There are other times where there may not be a need for zones which require all of the associated security measures, including use of MSICs and those sorts of things to be used. A lot of our major ports, like Fremantle, have essentially 24/7 zones because of the nature of that—

Senator COLBECK: Permanent arrangements?

Mr Retter : Yes. So it comes back to the police being aware of what legislative options they have in terms of prosecution and then making a judgment call about what their success might be or otherwise based on the facts.

Senator COLBECK: In respect of ports that have zones that can be turned off and on, what are the criteria for that? Is that something that would be listed in the port's security management plan?

Mr Retter : It is in the port's maritime security plan.

Senator COLBECK: So they would have to use that?

Mr Retter : Yes.

Senator COLBECK: I will leave it there. If you could provide us with that information on notice, I would appreciate it, thank you.

CHAIR: Thanks, Senator Colbeck. It is 11.20 am so, Mr Retter, we will let you escape.