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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1310

Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Local Government and Territories and Minister for Regional Communications) (10:32): I thank all senators for their contribution to this debate. The Transport Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 will ensure that Australia's transport security framework remains responsive to the evolving security environment and efficient as the transport sector grows. The bill amends the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 to introduce and strengthen airside security measures at Australia's major international airports and to increase the efficiency of government regulatory assessment processes.

A terrorist attack on Australian aviation could result in loss of life, severe economic consequences, public loss of confidence in both the government and the aviation sector and damage to Australia's reputation as a safe and secure destination for international air travel. The bill will strengthen Australia's already robust aviation security system by allowing the implementation of screening in airside areas. This security screening will be applied to airport workers who have access to passenger aircraft in the course of their employment as well as their vehicles and any items they carry.

This new airside security screening will form part of a package of measures to mitigate the insider threat to Australian aviation, which is planned to be rolled out at Australia's highest risk airports over the next year. Implementation of these measures will be progressive, allowing industry time to undertake any necessary capital works and to hire and train staff. Aviation workers who are subject to security screening under the new arrangements will be afforded the same protections as passengers to ensure they are not subject to racial or religious discrimination and that their privacy is protected. These measures will ensure Australians continue to enjoy safe and secure air travel and that Australia remains at the forefront of international best practice.

The bill also implements measures to allow the Secretary of the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development to delegate his powers in the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 to lower level Australian Public Service employees. Given the predicted growth in the transport sector and the evolving security environment, these amendments will give the government administrative flexibility. This will ensure that regulatory submissions can be effectively assessed in statutory time frames and that industry demands can continue to be met. The secretary remains responsible for determining which powers under the acts are appropriate to delegate. Significant and complex regulatory powers will remain at senior levels, while only simple regulatory decisions will be delegated to lower level employees.

I thank members for their very constructive contribution to this debate again and I commend this bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.