The Morrison Government today introduced a new Bill that will give law enforcement agencies broader powers to ensure the security of the country’s aviation network and keep the Australian public safe.
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said the Police Powers at Airports Bill 2018 expands existing powers to enable police to direct a person to provide proof of identity, ‘move on’ from airport premises, or not take a flight, where they pose a criminal or security threat.
“While Australia already has strong and comprehensive aviation security, we need to remain ahead of this very real and evolving threat,” Mr Dutton said.
“We have seen the incredible fear and heartache caused by terrorists around the world who wish to target the aviation network.
“We also know that Australia is at risk. This was most clearly illustrated last July, when catastrophic consequences were avoided through the disruption of a terrorist plot targeting a passenger plane in Sydney.
“Airports can also be a focal point for illicit drug trafficking and gang-related activity, which provide pathways for serious and organised crime groups to expand their operations and see devastating flow-on effects for our community.”
The proposed powers complement a $294 million suite of Government initiatives which will ensure Australia remains a world-leader in aviation security.
“Police at our airports are highly-trained in behavioural analysis and threat assessments. However, they don’t currently have the power to check ID unless they can link behaviour to a specific offence,” Mr Dutton said.
These measures have been developed on advice from the AFP that current identity checking powers are no longer fit-for-purpose in consideration of the current national security environment at airports.
Police will exercise identity checking powers based on clear criteria in the legislation and rely on their specialist expertise and training. Police will not have the power to check the identity of people at random in the airport environment.
“The proposed powers are commensurate with aviation security threats and will help our police protect the Australian community,” Mr Dutton said.
“Together with the range of Government-funded measures, including the Government’s funding boost of $321.4 million to domestic policing capabilities, it will help keep the community safe and go a long way to making sure Australia remains a trusted destination for trade and travel.”