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Federal Government Boosts Transport Security

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the National Party

13th May 2003

The Federal Government will spend an additional $15.6 million over the next two years, including $7.9 million in 2003-04, to tighten Australia's port and maritime security, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said today.

"Australia's port and maritime sector is critical for our domestic and international trade. A terrorist attack could have devastating consequences for human life, the economy and the marine environment," Mr Anderson said.

"The Government will develop new maritime security legislation that will require the private sector and state government port authorities to tighten significantly the level of security at their facilities by 1 July 2004.

"It will give effect to the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, which was developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to address maritime security around the world.

"It will apply to 70 Australian registered trading vessels on international and interstate voyages, 70 ports and about 300 port facilities. They will be required to develop security plans and introduce preventive security measures such as access controls and monitoring systems.

"The private sector and state government port authorities will be required to meet the cost of implementing the new security requirements. It will be expensive, but increased security now has to be regarded as part of the cost of doing business.

"The Budget funding will cover the cost of:

developing the new legislation and providing guidance to the maritime industry on its requirements. The Government will consult extensively with the industry about the legislation;

ensuring that the relevant ships and port facilities are compliant, by auditing the security plans and their implementation; and

checking the compliance of the 3,500 foreign vessels per year that use our ports. Ships that do not comply with the Code may be subject to additional security measures or, in extreme cases, denied access to Australian ports.

"The Government has already implemented important measures to improve the security of our ports. For example, the Australian Customs Service has opened new container x-ray examination facilities at Sydney and Melbourne which enable a 20-fold increase in container examination rates. Customs will be opening two more container x-ray facilities -- at Brisbane and Fremantle -- by the end of the year.

"Customs has also boosted patrols at ports and introduced a national closed circuit television network that monitors ports 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

"In addition, all foreign ships entering Australia must transmit their crew lists to Customs at least 48 hours before they arrive, so that appropriate security checks can be made.

"The Budget also includes $1.4 million over four years ($0.5 million in 2003-04) for the Department of Transport and Regional Services to develop a comprehensive information management system to organise, store and index aviation security information.

"The system will increase the security of our transport system and is a crucial step toward implementing the systems-based approach to aviation security auditing recommended by the Australian National Audit Office," Mr Anderson said.

Media contact: Paul Chamberlin 02 62777680 / 0419 233989