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Strengthening Australia's Transport Security

Australian Coat of Arms

MEDIA RELEASE
The Hon John Anderson MP
Deputy Prime Minister
Leader of The Nationals
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
TRS11/Budget 11 May 2004

Airports in regional Australia will benefit from an extra $21 million in aviation security funding in 2003-04, on top of the $93 million Enhanced Aviation Security Package that the Government announced in December 2003.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson, said the Government would now spend a total of $35 million to assist smaller airports to implement security measures, with $14 million previously announced in the Enhanced Aviation Security Package.

"Recent world events have highlighted the need for us all to remain vigilant, move quickly and keep strengthening Australia's transport security systems. Security enhancements to potentially vulnerable facilities in regional areas are the logical next step," Mr Anderson said.

"The Government recognises that many smaller and regional airports operate on slim margins. We will therefore provide one-off grants to each of the 140 airports soon to become regulated under the new Aviation Transport Security Act 2004. It will not now be necessary for airports to match the amounts provided by the Australian Government.

"After consultation with industry and state and territory governments, we have decided to more than double the amount previously announced, reflecting the extremely high priority of transport security in our regions.

"The funds will be provided to airport owners and operators to purchase capital items for security upgrades as part of their security plans. Eligible items will include fencing, lighting and alarm systems."

The Australian Government will also spend an extra $9.0 million over the next four years ($2.4 million in 2004-05) within the Transport and Regional Services portfolio to boost other elements of Australia's transport security

"The Government will expand our role in providing transport security assistance to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, under the transport security component of our Regional Counter-Terrorism Strategy," Mr Anderson said.

"We will spend $4.7 million over the next four years - $1.4 million in 2004-05 - to help improve the preventive security measures that are currently in place in South East Asia, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.

"The funding will provide the Office of Transport Security in my department with the resources to deploy more technical experts overseas and deliver training programmes.

"Over time, the funding will help improve the security of the planes and ships arriving in Australia from overseas, and will complement our comprehensive domestic security measures," he said.

The Government will spend an additional $366,000 a year to fund the Inspector of Transport Security (ITS). The position was announced in the Enhanced Aviation Security Package last year.

"The ITS will investigate major security incidents in the aviation and maritime sectors, and will be able to recommend changes to improve Australia's transport security systems," Mr Anderson said.

"The ITS will also be able to investigate security incidents involving other modes of transport with the agreement of the responsible state or territory government."

The Government will spend an additional $424,000 in 2005-06 to provide a safe transport security environment for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. The funding will cover the cost of additional security experts and the development of new security and facilitation measures, such as processing baggage and checking-in passengers away from the airport.

"The extra security measures will reinforce the existing aviation and maritime security arrangements, including counter-terrorism arrangements, that are in place between the Australian Government, state agencies and industry," Mr Anderson said.

The Government will spend $2.4 million over four years ($626,000 in 2004-05) to fund the Office of Transport Security's role in critical infrastructure protection. The measure will result in the establishment of a trusted information sharing group comprising governments and the owners and operators of critical infrastructure in the transport sector.

"These key operators will be provided with the best protective security information we have available, so they will be in a better position to make security planning judgments," Mr Anderson said.

Since 2001, the Australian Government has introduced a comprehensive set of measures within the Transport and Regional Services portfolio to strengthen and expand our transport security arrangements. They have included a package of aviation security measures totalling $85.4 million, and $15.5 million to tighten Australia's port and maritime security in line with new international maritime arrangements.

The Government's new maritime and aviation security legislation is ensuring that operators across both sectors are regulated by workable and comprehensive security frameworks.

Media contacts:

Paul Chamberlain Deputy Prime Minister's office 02 62777680 / 0419 233989