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Anderson finally pulls head out of the sand after a kick in the rear end.

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Robert McClelland MP Federal Member for Barton Shadow Minister for Defence Shadow Minister for Homeland Security

7 June 2005


After feeling a week’s worth of heat from both the Federal Parliament and the media, John Anderson has finally acknowledged serious security concerns at our airports.

He has finally realised how foolish it was to continue denying security failures that had everyone else in the country worried except the responsible minister.

Mr Anderson has now finally recognised that systemic security failures that could be exploited by criminals could be also potentially be exploited by terrorists. The recognition of this reality three and half years after September 2001 terrorist attacks underpin what appears to be a belated common sense response by the Government. Why the systemic security failures identified in the Customs Report weren’t acted upon immediately after the report was completed in September 2003 remains a mystery.

It took a chorus of dissatisfaction - from the general public, from industry, from state governments, from the unions, from the media, from the Federal Opposition - for Mr Anderson to act.

Today’s announcement confirms how short sighted John Anderson’s decision was to remove former AFP Commissioner Mick Palmer from his $400,000 a year job as Inspector of Transport Security. Mr Anderson has also failed to disclose the total cost of the new international experts.

Having diverted money from other important security areas within his department to pay for international experts, Minister Anderson should now commit to implementing each and every one of their recommendations in a detailed and systematic way.

While the specific measures that have been announced are broadly welcomed by Labor, we remain concerned that the measures do not appear to include the

screening of bags of airport staff and contractors entering and leaving the restricted areas of the airport.

And while there has been a recognised need by Minister Anderson for greater coordination of security, we are concerned that efforts of the security controllers will be impeded by the lack of legislative authority to cut through red tape and departmental barriers.

Fortunately a solid kick in the rear end has forced John Anderson to pull his head out of the sand to acknowledge that something needs to be done about systemic security failures at airports. We will carefully follow the recommendations of the expert review and ensure that they are fully implemented.

Further information: Tom Cameron 0417 147 932