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Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Page: 106

Mr TUCKEY (4:58 PM) —I welcome the fact that the opposition sees the value of these proposals which, while they are fairly specific, are basically designed to address the problems of the enemy within. Of course, that is one of the most potent means of terrorist operations. If a single operative gets into a position of trust they can do immeasurable harm and undertake damaging activities, including destruction.

The member for Barton made comments about other issues of security which are contemporary. In relation to Sydney airport employees, who are virtually totally unionised, it did strike me from the beginning how tight the issue was that months ago, maybe years ago, the ALP were unable to stand up in this place and advise the government of what was going on. It was people who were members of a union, whether or not they wanted to be or whether or not they were officials, who were dealing in drugs and other matters that could affect security at Sydney airport, because it is virtually a no ticket, no start environment. Somebody who was honest and certainly not a crook knew about this. But what is the culture in that place that resulted in nothing coming out?

I am not having a shot at anyone. The Labor Party might ask themselves why they didn’t tell us, if only for the purpose of giving them a political advantage. Why is it that in that area of employment, where people could not possibly fail to know that serious laws of Australia were being broken—laws that might extend to issues of terrorism—a culture existed in which nobody dobbed anybody in? That issue has to be resolved. We are well aware that most state legislation still prevents universal use of video cameras in workplaces. This of course should be a proponent of the issues before us today, which specifically deal with the enemy from within. I would like to make a few comments in due course about the enemy outside. To quote from the explanatory memorandum:

The Bill amends the Maritime Transport Security Act 2003 by: 

extending coverage of the Act to offshore oil and gas facilities located within the territorial sea, in Australia’s exclusive economic zone and on the continental shelf; and

ensuring that all regulated offshore oil and gas facility operators and other prescribed offshore industry participants develop, and comply with, an offshore security plan based on a security assessment of each regulated facility.   

…            …            …

The second part of the bill is to amend the Maritime Transport Security Act 2003 to allow for the introduction of the maritime security identification card. The MSIC will be introduced to cover unmonitored personnel who are required to be in Maritime Security Zones and offshore security zones ...

That second part more particularly deals with the enemy from within and raises all sorts of questions. A question was asked today as to whether it is appropriate to have a zip card entry to a secure area when the person carrying that zip card might not be the person to whom it was issued. I think that is a major issue where personal security is involved. Even a PIN is not appropriate, because it can be handed over. Maybe the tokens that we now have associated with our computers might go some way to answering that, although of course a person could even hand that over. So it comes down to the new biosecurity issues that are coming forward. I am reading a book—it is fictitious—in which someone who can use their eye to get through a particular door has his eye cut out and is killed. Is that practical? I don’t know. Certainly the book suggests it was and the crooks got in.

One might wonder just where some of these security issues end. When there are people who are silly enough to blow themselves up, apparently to get an early pass into heaven, taking with them innocent people, one wonders where the next threat might exist in Australia. It is interesting to note that this legislation contains provisions for costs to be acquitted by the owners of particular facilities. I am surprised that legislation is required for the undertaking of these processes. In this day and age one would think that their insurance companies would be very interested in this situation and would demand extremely high levels of security to protect their investment in facilities of this nature and possibly their business cash flows. So I think it is quite appropriate that these types of security measures be paid for by those involved. Not only does it pose a very significant risk to national security and the national economy, but also in a purely business sense one would think that the operators would want to take every step to protect their interest. I did make a note to consider, as a broader comment on this legislation, that long-held Returned and Services League motto that the price of peace is eternal vigilance. I think this legislation is a progression of that in terms of the government’s intention.

Returning to identity cards, I have talked about compliance arrangements where a person might achieve access to a place through another person lending them their card, perhaps because they are running late or they do not want to turn up. That is the old time-clock syndrome. We also have to look at ease of identity theft issues. That has always worried me. I participated in the Australian identity card debate and pointed out just how simply people could steal your identity from an identity card—certainly as we knew them in those days—and use it to access your creditworthiness, steal money from your bank account and break certain laws in presenting themselves as you. There are so many issues related to this matter.

I am also going to take this opportunity to talk briefly about external threats. The member for Barton talked about people loading up a speedboat with explosives. The typical freighter en route today would have perhaps one person on its bridge while it is on automatic pilot. I have had examples of crayfish fishermen nearly being run over in that circumstance, while they were at anchor. It means that only one person needs to be on the bridge and that person could decide to drive straight through an oil rig with a 100,000 tonne vessel.

These sorts of issues are also of grave importance. While I do not know the extent to which they are addressed in the north-west, I think some work is being done in Bass Strait where rigs have radar so they can have some idea of what is happening. Historically, there have been a couple of scares of a non-terrorist nature in Bass Strait. Again, what a worry it would be if the radio operator was not at work and you were screaming at them that they were on a course for your fixed asset.

These sorts of issues have got to be considered. I once visited some high-tech people in this town of Canberra who had invented and manufactured a phased radar for which they received a contract, I think in the Red Sea or from a nearby nation. Sitting in Canberra, they were able to monitor the working of that equipment and show me where all the boats were. They were sailing around Bahrain. If we have that sort of technology in Australia, it would seem to me that these rigs should be—if they are not already—equipped with that sort of equipment to better address the outside threat.

The government currently has a tender out for coastal surveillance and I have had representations on that matter. I am disappointed that our tender did not commence as a call not so much for expressions of interest but for technological solutions. The representations I have received are from people who say, ‘We have a better way of doing your coastal surveillance with unmanned vehicles that don’t exist yet. But we are confident that we can provide this from a scientific perspective. We have financial backers who would like to be involved in this but they want to know whether there is going to be a market for the invention.’ As things are managed presently, they are just going round and round in circles. I imagine that they would offer a substantially more intense service at a substantially lower cost. But the tender processes which have been in place for many decades do not, in a world of high technology, first say, ‘Look, we really need to know how best to do it from the private sector.’ We will end up with a situation where tenders rely on people having very standard equipment for the purpose of conducting this surveillance, wherever it might be. As you would gather, I have made some representations to senior members of our party that they might consider in the future. I cannot influence the present, and I do not want to, on behalf of the people who have made these representations. It just struck me that they had a wonderful idea.

We need to have a different approach in some of these areas so that we can first find out what people think they can do. I guess there is some relativity to the government spending $150 million on the new strike fighter. One could say that that is virtually an investment in blue sky if we do not buy the aircraft in the end. But it is an example of how we might get better surveillance, and certainly better than a coastguard would provide. Without being smart about the coastguard and giving it other names, for such a small population we have such a huge coastline compared to the United States. I imagine their longest borders are land based. They have an entirely different situation to us and a huge population to support it. It is my view that better solutions exist and they can be managed by present-day authorities.

I support this legislation as a logical step. I note that the member for Barton was interested to obtain more detail about the regulations. I have always been in favour of the parliament being able to look at the regulations. We seem to have a habit of not doing that. In that regard, I sincerely hope that they deal closely with the details of the efficiency of identity documents. I do not think that the things that hang around people’s necks at the moment are particularly reliable. They are possibly the best that are typically available. I have already pointed out how difficult it is to upgrade them. These are circumstances in which many people could be killed and in the case of our offshore oil facilities there could be terrible environmental devastation. It could all be done by a very limited number of people or in ways that I have just mentioned. It does not have to be a speedboat full of explosives, as the Americans learned on 9/11, when four quite innocuous transport aeroplanes suddenly became flying bombs. An ordinary commercial vessel in the hands of a terrorist is much the same.

I have speculated before how easy it would be to invade Sydney if you had a regular tourist vessel—a cruise liner—and on one trip, without telling anyone, you filled it up with troops, pulled up in its normal berthing place in Sydney and they all came running out. I wonder how Australia would deal with that situation.

Mr Martin Ferguson —We are not in Fiji.

Mr TUCKEY —No, do not worry. When one looks at security and the things we accept, it is not that long ago that the trend around the world was to have no-visa entry—everybody was welcome; they were tourists. Suddenly we find ourselves having to make giant steps in the opposite direction. This, of course, represents part of that. The government has definitely taken a positive step. It is a work in progress.

I do repeat my comment that I hope the Labor Party, with their very close affiliation with the trade union movement, are saying to them, ‘This is a job for the parliament. We cannot continue to have people arguing about privacy.’ There is reference to this in this legislation. If you are in one of these highly sensitive situations, I am not really sure how much privacy you are entitled to, unfortunately, whatever the percentage that would never do the wrong thing. One can only say of 60,000 workers at Sydney airport that, if the circumstances described and raised by the Labor Party existed, some people either do not care or are guilty by association. There is no way in the world that among 60,000 people only the perpetrators of crimes knew what was going on. Yet nobody said anything. It was such a well-kept secret, even within Customs. That is a worry. It is certainly something for which the trade union movement, being right there and hands-on, have a responsibility. They have come out with a lot of statements now, but those are slightly different to their views up until this issue was exposed. It is a real issue. It is an issue for the people of Australia and it is an issue for this parliament—and not just the government. Let us hope that together we can go on living the very comfortable and secure life we have as Australians.