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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31563


Mr CHARLES (4:41 PM) —On behalf of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, I present the committee's Report No. 400, Review of aviation security in Australia.

Ordered that the report be printed.


Mr CHARLES —by leave—On behalf of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, I present the committee's report No. 400, Review of aviation security in Australia. This report presents the committee's review of Australia's aviation security. The review arose from the committee's statutory obligation to review reports of the Auditor-General, namely audit report No. 26, 2002-03, entitled Aviation security in Australia, which was tabled in January 2003. Australia's aviation industry services approximately 50 million international and domestic passenger movements each year and involves some 70,000 employees who contribute in one way or another to aviation security. The industry is regulated by the Department of Transport and Regional Services.

The committee has reviewed over 500 pages of submissions and over 400 pages of transcript of evidence taken at six public hearings and has inspected Sydney airport and two regional airports. The headline for the committee's review is that it provides a positive report card for aviation security in Australia at this point in time. The committee has assessed the current threat environment within which Australia's aviation industry operates, the opportunities and costs of security enhancements, the aviation security framework and the human aspects of security, including the culture of security.

In summary, the committee has found that the security measures under which aviation security operates in Australia are appropriate to the current level of threat, there is flexibility to adjust the framework to meet changing threats and the culture of security is positive. The committee has identified the security culture as being one of the more important aspects of security and is pleased with the attitude of employees at the interface between the aviation industry and the travelling public. The committee has drawn on its own experiences of airline travel in Australia and overseas and notes the friendly, yet firm and professional, attitude of the staff involved in aviation security in our country. This security attitude in Australia contrasts markedly with the attitudes of security personnel, particularly screeners, in some other countries. The alternative—belligerence, heavy-handedness and arrogance—will not engage the public and will hinder security outcomes.

The committee has made five recommendations aimed at: clarifying the interaction between the newly created Australian government airport security committees and existing airport security committees; strengthening the regulations by the inclusion in them of the non-negotiable aspects of the security framework; improving the procedures for the return of expired aviation security identification cards; broadening security awareness training to cover everyone who has access to security-controlled areas at airports; and maintaining the positive security culture through the introduction of educational measures aimed at promoting a robust security culture.

Overall, the committee is satisfied that the standard of security at Australia's airports and on aircraft is sufficient to meet the current threat environment. From time to time there will be security incidents triggered by circumstances at various layers in the system. Sometimes an incident which may appear trivial to the casual observer will cause major disruption. The committee believes this shows aviation participants are taking their security responsibilities seriously.

In conclusion, I would like to express the committee's appreciation to those people who contributed to the inquiry by preparing submissions, giving evidence at public hearings and providing briefings to the committee at private meetings and during inspections of airport facilities. I also wish to thank the members of the sectional committee involved for their time and dedication in conducting this inquiry, in particular the deputy chair, the member for Sydney. I also thank the secretariat staff: the acting secretary to the committee, Mr James Catchpole; the inquiry secretary, Dr John Carter; research staff, Ms Mary Ellen Miller; and administrative staff, Ms Maria Miniutti and Ms Jessica Butler. I commend the report to the House.