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Thursday, 4 July 2019
Page: 293

Mr DUTTON (DicksonMinister for Home Affairs) (10:57): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The government is committed to ensuring that our police can continue to protect the thousands of Australians that transit through the airport network every day.

It is clear that Australia's airports remain an attractive target for terrorists and other nefarious criminal actors. While Australia already has strong and comprehensive aviation security, we need to remain ahead of this very real and evolving threat.

The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Police Powers at Airports) Bill will help to ensure that Australia's aviation network remains among the safest in the world. This bill will give police broader powers to conduct identity checks at major Australian airports, and issue a move on direction where it is reasonably necessary to safeguard the public and safe operation of the airport.

With the amendments contained in the bill, a person on the premises of a major airport may be issued with a direction to provide evidence of identification only where a constable or Australian Federal Police protective service officer:

suspects on reasonable grounds that a person has committed, is committing, or intends to commit an offence against a law of the Commonwealth, a law of a Territory, or a law of a State having a federal aspect, punishable by imprisonment for 12 months or more, or

considers on reasonable grounds that it is necessary to give the direction to safeguard the public order and safe operation of a major airport, including the safety of any persons at the airport or on connecting flights.

This new power is based on advice from the Australian Federal Police that the current requirement to suspect that a person is about to commit, or has committed, a criminal offence before conducting an airport ID check is no longer fit for purpose. Police intelligence or observations that a person is behaving suspiciously in the airport—for example, by taking photos or videos of security screening points—will not always meet the necessary threshold. This is not satisfactory in today's threat environment.

The bill will also empower police officers to direct that a person leave the aviation environment, or not take a flight, for up to 24 hours.

The new move-on power will only be available to police in a limited range of circumstances, including where it is reasonably necessary to prevent or disrupt serious criminal activity at airports or on a flight, or to safeguard the public order and safe operation of these airports. A person may also be directed to move on where they fail to comply with an identity check or a police direction to stop.

Finally, the bill will create new criminal offences for failing to comply with an identity check, move-on or stop direction, punishable by a fine of up to $4,200. To ensure there are appropriate safeguards on the use of these powers, the bill will also contain requirements for police officers to comply with certain duties in exercising the new powers—including appropriately identifying themselves and informing a person that failure to comply with a direction may constitute an offence.

A patchwork of Commonwealth, state and territory laws currently apply across Australian airports. The bill will address some of this complexity by giving state and territory police and Australian Federal Police officers, including protective service officers, consistent and appropriate powers to manage risks that are unique to the aviation environment.

The new powers will be available in all Australian capital city airports, as well as Alice Springs, Gold Coast, Townsville and Launceston airports, and any additional airports that the responsible minister determines into the future. In practice, the decision about additional airports at which the new powers may be exercised will be based on operational advice from the Australian Federal Police.

The bill was considered in detail by several parliamentary committees. In particular, I would like to thank the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security for its contributions. The government has had full consideration of all of that material, and we have reflected that. We have incorporated the recommendations from the committee into the bill. In this regard, I now table the government's response to the PJCIS advisory report on this bill.

The amendments incorporated into this bill are also consistent with the views expressed by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills as part of their inquiries into the bill. The bill has clearly been considered in detail and, as a result, represents a balanced approach to amending the powers of our law enforcement agencies, while recognising the evolving threat environment at Australia's major airports.

In particular, the bill now includes an explicit statement that the new identity-checking and move-on powers are not intended to interfere with the right to peaceful assembly and do not give police the ability to disrupt or quell a protest that is peaceful and does not affect the public order and safe operation of the airport. The bill also ensures that a person subject to a move-on direction will be notified of their right to apply for judicial review or an interlocutory order, including the procedure for urgent or expedited applications.

This bill is further evidence of the government's commitment to keeping the travelling public safe and secure and ensuring Australia is a world leader in aviation security. It will provide our law enforcement agencies with the tools and powers they need to do their job effectively—protecting Australia's airports and its citizens from serious criminal and security threats. I commend the bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.