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Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Page: 10888

Mrs MARINO (ForrestChief Government Whip) (10:29): I thank the member for Grayndler for his constructive comments and respect the fact that everyone in this House takes the issue of aviation security very seriously. I thank him for his comments and his constructive approach to the Aviation Transport Security Amendment Bill 2018, which is before the House.

There are very good reasons for very sound security whilst maintaining the viability of airports, which differ so greatly around Australia. We've always seen different risks and challenges, ever since air transport became so widespread. It's brought us closer together, but there have always been those who have wanted to use some form of terror to disrupt that unity and opportunity. We saw a striking example of this at 9/11 and there have been numerous examples in the past. As far back as 1933, an aircraft was destroyed by a bomb. I think nitroglycerine was the probable cause at the time. It was apparently linked to a Chicago gangland kingpin, who was the suspect, but the case remains unresolved. It was the first proven act of air sabotage in the history of commercial aviation. The first example of an in-flight bombing was in 1962, when a Continental Airlines aircraft was blown up by a passenger over Iowa in the US. More recently was the Lockerbie tragedy where Pan Am Flight 103 was destroyed by a bomb on board and crashed into a very quiet little Scottish village, killing all passengers, plus 11 people on the ground.

That's why everyone in this House takes aviation security seriously. As every new incident has occurred, there've been corresponding improvements to airport security. There's also been a change and a rise in different forms of terrorism around the world. We are now all used to the significantly increased measures at our major international gateways such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and those around the world. As incidents occur, there is constant innovation and new technology available in the security measures applied to respond to the new threats. A clear example of this followed the 2009 failed al-Qaeda bombing in the US. Full body scanners, as we know, were introduced. These enhanced security measures have been responsible for preventing incidents right here in Australia. In recent times as well, we saw a plot to blow up a flight to Abu Dhabi foiled by security procedures at Sydney Airport, saving hundreds of lives. So all of us in this House, I believe, understand why enhanced security arrangements at airports are so important—why they exist and what they're meant to prevent.

However, as we've heard from previous speakers and as we know as rural and regional members, not all airports around Australia are the same and not all airports face the same level of risk. We have relied on the recommendations of experts in relation to the content in this bill, managed by the Department of Home Affairs. It's important to ensure that security plans are fit for purpose for the risk that exists at each individual airport dotted right around Australia while we continue to preserve the integrity of airport security systems. Reducing the regulatory burden on smaller aviation providers and on local airports is really critical whilst we maintain our airport security system, but there are a variety of smaller airports right around Australia and there are those that we cannot expect to have the same or similar levels of security that we see at airports in Sydney or Melbourne. In so many instances we see different levels of risk and we need different risk based approaches to them. As well, we want to make sure that the regulatory burdens and cost—there is always a cost—on regional airports and other participants in the regional aviation industry are actually appropriate for the level of risk at a particular point and the services provided at a particular location. We need to balance the need for aviation security whilst maintaining a viable regional aviation sector.

I see the member for Grey sitting beside me. He will expand on this further. The smaller airports around Australia, particularly those in rural, regional and remote areas, are frequently owned by the local government and they frequently have to deal with the additional costs that go with any new imposition, which makes it difficult for them to continue to provide the services that are so critical in rural, regional and remote Australia. But this bill will allow the secretary of Home Affairs, or their delegate, to give a model transport security program to a lower risk aviation operator so that they don't have to go through the process of developing their own, again reducing cost and red tape. A participant in the industry is required by law to have a TSP, and the bill sets out the measures and procedures that must be in place to meet that regulatory requirement. The Department of Home Affairs undertakes rigorous compliance activities to make sure that participants meet their obligations to maintain the appropriate level of security.

There is broad support across the industry, as we've heard, for the measures in this bill. Currently, the law requires all industry participants to maintain a comprehensive and unique TSP. That's all aerodromes, regional airports and regional air operators, despite the differences in risk and in the size, sophistication and complexity of their operations. We know that there are some airports that have very few flights coming and going. Equally, they might be freight based. So we see a diversity around this great nation that we have.

The Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport in my electorate was significantly upgraded in recent years through contributions from a then Liberal state government, as well as our federal government. I'm looking forward to the development that will occur in the region as this airport gets up and running, both in freight and passenger services. As a federal government we contributed to upgrading the length of the runway and enabling it to take 747s, A320s and A330s. This really increases great commercial opportunities, as well as the opportunities in planning and working on a freight hub.

Given the products that come out of my region of South West, this is a great opportunity. These improvements to the airport will allow services from eastern capitals and international destinations like China, Indonesia and other Asian countries. It will also enable exports going out—whether it's dairy, chilled or fresh meat, abalone or marron, flowers, fruits, vegetables, or truffles from the broader South West region, or packaged products—to all sorts of markets and countries, including China, the UAE, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. It is an exciting and new development, and it has the potential to supercharge our region in terms of exporting the best-quality products to the rest of the world and bringing visitors directly to our beautiful South West region, including the Margaret River and Busselton, our Geographe region—and this airport is owned by the City of Busselton.

We have to make sure that the future of the airport is not compromised by being overly burdened at this time by security requirements. Under this legislation, the Department of Home Affairs, as I said, can lessen that red-tape burden by providing the airport with a TSP for its current requirements. The department can also, at a different time, upgrade those requirements as the risk level changes and as the activities of that airport change. So, if the department assesses the airport as being of lower risk, which it currently is, it could be given a secretary-issued TSP—the work has been done, basically—rather than have the administrative burden of preparing a specific, bespoke TSP that is not proportionate to the security outcomes.

Looking at other parts of this bill, the TSP will set out the minimum security requirements that the participant must comply with to safeguard against unlawful interference. That's the critical part that the Department of Home Affairs will get right, but the requirements must be appropriate for the operation or locations covered by the program. Member for Grey, you'll be very pleased about that part of it—'appropriate'. Under the TSP, the participant has to have the relevant procedures to manage and coordinate security within the operation. Technology, equipment and procedures that will be used are to be covered, and a plan for how participants will respond to any security incidents. This is really important. The Australian Airports Association has supported the proposals in this bill.

We also know that the TSPs that are already there can be used as a model by the secretary, and this is a very clear and simple way of reducing the regulatory burden—the red tape. I think all members of this House—and particularly the member for Grey, who is sitting next to me—are aware of the layer upon layer of red tape that we hear about from the industry, whether from small to medium enterprises or, in this instance, a small regional airport. They express to us, on a regular basis, their frustration about the mountains of paperwork, and we know that some of these are very small operators and so may not have the people to dedicate to it; they cannot afford to do so, in many instances. Yet there is a continuous rise in the amount of paperwork that's required. Yes, they will meet their security arrangements, and they need to, and they know they need to. However, we need to make sure that these airports remain viable.

I've looked at the numbers of airports around Australia, and they vary considerably not only in their location but also in the types and numbers of services that are provided. In my part of the world, there is the Busselton airport. During the boom in the mining industry in the south-west, Rio Tinto had flights coming out of there, with the fly-in fly-out workers, and they still do. We have a number of charter flights that come and go from the area. But that in no way resembles what would happen at Perth Airport, Sydney Airport or some of the other major airports.

So I commend the bill to the House. As has been said previously, it's supported broadly by the industry. I think a Senate inquiry looked at this bill as well and supported it and recommended its passage. I commend it to the House.