Australia s current
aviation security framework came into effect in March 2005
following the commencement of the Aviation Transport Security
Act 2004 (Principal Act) and the subsequent making of the
Aviation Transport Security Regulations. The Principal Act has been
amended a number of times since its enactment to improve its
operation. Detailed background information on the legislative
aspects of aviation security reform is available in the Bills
Digest for the Principal Act.
Especially since the
events of 11 September 2001, aviation security has assumed a high
priority for the Australian government. It has therefore been
subject to an ongoing assessment, so as to maintain the appropriate
response capacity of the aviation regulatory framework regime in
relation to new and changing security threats to the
Following months of investigation and
undercover work, on 9 August 2006 United Kingdom security services
thwarted a terrorist plan to destroy several aircraft in mid-flight
from the United Kingdom to the United States. The terrorist plot
was to be carried out using liquid explosives taken onboard as part
of the suspect s hand luggage.
The New York Times reported that the
plotters intended to use humble bottles of the sports drink
Lucozade to house the liquid explosives. The alleged plan was to
leave the bottle sealed and intact with its actual beverage, but to
add a false bottom which would contain the liquid explosive
coloured to make it indistinguishable from the actual
The unsuccessful terrorist plan exposed the
limited technical capability of aviation security screening points
in relation to liquid explosive detection. The United States,
Canada and the European Union immediately responded by introducing
restrictions on the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels that could
be carried on board international outbound and domestic
The International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) acted swiftly and in mid August 2006, it released security
guidelines for screening aerosol products, gels and liquids to be
carried on aircrafts as hand luggage. The ICAO recommended that
member states implement these measures no later than 1 March
On 8 December 2006, the Deputy Prime Minister
and Minister for Transport and Regional Services announced that
Australia would be introducing enhanced security measures to limit
the amount of liquids, aerosols and gels that can be taken through
the screening point at airports (4) though only in
relation to international inbound and outbound flights.
Memorandum states that the cost of implementing these measures will
be $3.1 million, but provides no details.(5) For
example, it is not clear whether this figure is a one-off or an
ongoing cost. Nor is it clear whether the cost will mainly be borne
by industry or government.
As mentioned above, the stated intention of
the Bill is to amend the Principal Act in order to permit security
measures to be applied to liquids, aerosols and gels at screening
points. However, these measures could equally be applied to any
other thing that is deemed to be a security risk.
Division 2 of the Principal Act is concerned
with restricting access to aircraft, areas and zones at an airport,
to persons, good and vehicles that have received a clearance.
Section 44 (which is contained in Division 2 of the Act) deals with
the requirements for screening and
clearing. Item 1 of the Bill amends subsection 44(2) of the
Act. It adds a new paragraph 44(2)(aa) to the list
of matters that may be dealt with by regulations. This addition
will enable regulations to be written to deal with things that must
not pass through a screening point . The Explanatory Memorandum
states that regulations will deal, in particular with aerosols,
gels and liquids.
Subsection 44(3) lists matters which may be
covered by regulations and or written notices made by the
Secretary. Under the Principal Act, a written
notice made by the Secretary may provide that the notice is only to
be given to the persons, or classes of persons, specified in the
The Explanatory Memorandum explains that the
matters listed are treated in this way to provide flexibility (if
the Secretary proceeds to cover some matters in a notice). Where a
matter involves lists which need to be updated in a timely manner
or if the matters covered in the notice are technical ones, then
notices may be considered a more appropriate and relevant way of
dealing with them.
The proposed amendment to subsection 44(3)
allows regulations to be made that would enable the inclusion of
new paragraph 44(2)(aa) (see item 1 above) as one of the matters
which may be covered by written notices.
Taken together, existing paragraphs
95B(1)(a) and (b) provide that if a person undergoes a
screening procedure and the results of that procedure indicate that
additional screening procedures are necessary in order to screen a
person properly; a screening officer may ask the person to undergo
a frisk search. However, paragraphs 95(3)(a) and
(b) state that a screening officer must not require a
person to undergo a frisk search or conduct a frisk search without
the person s consent.
Items 3 and
4 insert the wording under this section into
paragraphs 95(3)(a) and (b) so as to clarify that the operation of
paragraphs 95(3)(a) and (b) apply to a request for a frisk search
by an officer under paragraph 95B(1)(b).
The introduction of section
95C is designed to provide general powers for frisk
New subsection 95C(1) states
that if a screening officer considers it necessary in order to
screen a person properly, the screening officer may request the
person to undergo a frisk search . It is noteworthy that unlike
section 95B, this new section does not require that a person have
first undergone a screening procedure with the results of that
procedure revealing or indicating a need for additional screening.
There is no requirement for the officer to have a reasonable belief
of the necessity for the frisk search in order to request the
Like Section 95B, the proposed section
95C(1) states that a screening officer must not require a
person to undergo a frisk search under this section; or conduct a
frisk search without the person s consent, although this does not
apply if the officer has a reasonable excuse . This reasonable
excuse provision is also contained in existing section 95B.
This measures proposed in this bill will
basically bring Australia s airport security screening measures
into line with international guidelines recommended by the
International Civil Aviation Organization, and adopted by Canada,
the European Union and the United States.
- De-Anne Kelly, MP, Second Reading Security
Amendment (Additional Screening Measures) Bill 2007, 14 February
- Van Natta Jr., Don, Elaine Sciolino, Stephen
Grey. "In Tapes, Receipts and a Diary, Details of the British
Terror Case", New York Times, 2006-08-27. Accessed 25
- ICAO Journal
Volume 61, Number 6, 2006, p. 31.
- Mark Vaile, MP,
New Air Security Regulations for Carry on Baggage Media
Release, 8 December 2006
- Explanatory Memorandum, p. 2.
This paper has been prepared to support the work of the
Australian Parliament using information available at the time of
production. The views expressed do not reflect an official position
of the Parliamentary Library, nor do they constitute professional
Published by the Parliamentary Library, 2007.