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Legislation strengthens transport security.

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MEDIA RELEASE The Hon Mark Vaile MP Deputy Prime Minister Minister for Transport and Regional Services Leader of the Nationals

30 November 2006 031MV/2006


New legislation will provide a strong legal basis to support independent and impartial inquiries into Australia's transport security - and provide the means to strengthen the security regime Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile said today.

The legislation - the Inspector of Transport Security Bill - was passed by the Senate this week and is expected to take effect early in 2007.

"The Inspector of Transport Security will be able to inquire into major transport security incidents and patterns or series of incidents that point to a systemic failure or possible weaknesses or vulnerabilities in aviation and maritime transport and security regulated offshore facilities," Mr Vaile said.

"Under the legislation, the Minister can also task the Inspector with an inquiry into surface transport security. This will require the agreement of the relevant State or Territory Minister and the scope of the inquiry will be agreed between Ministers," he said.

Mr Vaile said the strengths of the legislative framework to support the role of the Inspector of Transport Security included:

Ñ the independence of the Inspector;

Ñ the no-blame nature of the Inspector's inquiries;

Ñ protection of information collected as part of the inquiry; and

Ñ the recognition that the work of investigative agencies should not be interfered with by

inquiries undertaken by the Inspector.

"A key feature of the legislation is the 'no-blame' aspect. The purpose of an inquiry by the Inspector is not to gather evidence to apportion blame - other agencies properly exercise that role. Instead an inquiry by the Inspector of Transport Security will focus on how our already robust transport security arrangements can be improved," Mr Vaile said.

"It is also important that the community and the transport industry in particular understands that the Inspector of Transport Security is not responsible for regulating transport security in this country," Mr Vaile said.

"The Office of Transport Security in the Department of Transport and Regional Services has the responsibility for the day to day regulation of transport security in the aviation and maritime sectors," Mr Vaile said.


Media Contacts

Richard Forbes ( Mr Vaile's Office ) 02 6277 7680 / 0418 273 475