On 25 February 2016 the Senate referred the provisions of the Transport
Security Amendment (Serious or Organised Crime) Bill 2016 (the bill) to the Senate
Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee (the Committee)
for inquiry and report on 11 May 2016.
Conduct of the inquiry
The Committee advertised the inquiry on its website and wrote to a
number of stakeholders inviting submissions. The Committee received seven
submissions, all of which are available on the Committee's website.
The Committee held a public hearing in Canberra on 30 March 2016. Full
Hansard transcripts are available on the Committee's website. A list of
organisations who gave evidence at the hearing can be found at Appendix 2 of
Purpose of the bill
The bill's provisions would amend the Aviation Transport Security Act
2004 (Transport Act) and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities
Security Act 2003 (Maritime Act). According to the Explanatory Memorandum,
the general intention of the bill is to:
....reduce criminal influence at Australia’s airports and
seaports by strengthening the aviation security identification card (ASIC) and
maritime security identification card (MSIC) schemes.
More specifically, the bill's provisions purport to:
Create an additional purpose in the Aviation and
Maritime Acts, in relation to access to aviation and maritime areas and zones,
to prevent the use of aviation and maritime transport or offshore facilities in
connection with serious or organised crime;
Establish a regulatory framework supporting the
implementation of harmonised eligibility criteria for the ASIC and MSIC
schemes, which better target serious or organised crime-related offences;
Clarify and align the legislative basis for
undertaking security checking of ASIC and MSIC applicants and holders;
Allow for regulations to be made prescribing
penalties for offences against the new serious or organised crime requirements
that are consistent with existing penalty provisions across the ASIC and MSIC
Insert an additional severability provision to
provide guidance to a court as to Parliament’s intention.
The ASIC and MSIC schemes and
Australia's transport security system
Australian transport regulations require individuals, including foreign
workers, to hold a security card if they require regular access to secure areas
of Australia's airports, seaports, Australian flagged ships, and offshore oil
and gas facilities. These cards are the aviation security identification card
(ASIC) and the maritime security identification card (MSIC).
As at 31 March 2016, there were 254 455 valid ASICs and MSICs in use.
This breaks down to 138 825 ASICs and 115 630 MSICs. An average 119 300 ASIC/MSIC
applications were processed annually since 2010, since reapplication is
required every two years.
These cards are administered and issued by the Commonwealth's central
background checking agency, AusCheck, under the AusCheck Act 2007, which
is overseen by the Attorney General's Department.
AusCheck conducts background checks on all applicants for an ASIC or MSIC, in
order to identify individuals who should not be eligible to access secure areas
in air and sea ports. The AusCheck website states that in administering the
ASIC and MSIC schemes, it is responsible for:
Coordinating background checking on each applicant;
Applying a consistent ruling of the disqualifying requirements for
each scheme to the findings; [and]
Notifying the applicant and their issuing body of the outcome of
the background check.
The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development stated that a
background check is comprised of:
A security assessment by the Australian Security Intelligence
A criminal history check by CrimTrac; and
Where required, an immigration check by the Department of
Immigration and Border Protection – to confirm an applicant's right to work in
The purpose of these background checks is to secure aviation and
maritime infrastructure. As the Explanatory Memorandum noted:
An ASIC or an MSIC cannot be issued to a person who has an
adverse criminal record. The eligibility criteria for determining whether a
person has an adverse criminal record are specified in the Aviation Regulations
and the Maritime Regulations. Currently, different eligibility criteria apply
under the ASIC and MSIC schemes, which results in persons convicted of the same
offence being treated differently in the aviation and maritime sectors.
Current weaknesses in the ASIC and
Some parliamentary and independent reviews have noted that the ASIC and
MSIC schemes is potentially open to exploitation by serious criminals and
organised crime syndicates. These reviews include:
The Australian National Audit Office Report, The Management of
the Aviation Security Identification Card and Maritime Security Identification
Card Scheme (2011);
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement, Inquiry
into the adequacy of aviation and maritime security measures to combat serious
and organised crime (2011); and
The National Ice Taskforce, Final Report (2015).
These reviews recommend that the ASIC and MSIC schemes be expanded to
include consideration of criminal intelligence in the security vetting process,
and in particular whether applicants have any links to serious or organised
crime networks. For example, Recommendation 24 of the Final Report of the
National Ice Taskforce (2015) stated that:
The Commonwealth Government should continue to protect the
aviation and maritime environments against organised crime by strengthening the
eligibility criteria for holders of Aviation Security Identification Cards and
Maritime Security Identification Cards; and establishing a legal mechanism to
enable compelling criminal intelligence to be used in determining suitability
of workers to hold such a card.
The bill has been designed to fulfil that recommendation. In his Second
Reading Speech, the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the
(then) Hon Warren Truss MP acknowledged that:
this bill implements one of the government's key strategies in the fight to
combat the drug ice. In December last year, the National Ice Taskforce, chaired
by Ken Lay APM, released its final report, which made 38 recommendations across
five priority areas. One of these recommendations, adopted by the government in
its response to the final report, was to continue to protect the aviation and
maritime environments against organised crime by strengthening the eligibility
criteria for holders of ASICs and MSICs. This bill will give effect to this
element of the government's comprehensive package of action across the five key
priority areas, which together are intended to tackle Australia's ice problem
Human rights and financial impacts of the bill
The bill raises no human rights issues or financial impact concerns.
Note on references
References to Hansard are to proof Hansard. Page numbers may vary
between the proof and the official (final) Hansard.
The Committee thanks the organisations that provided submissions to this
inquiry and attended the public hearing.
Structure of the report
This report consists of two chapters:
Chapter 1 (this chapter);
Chapter 2 discusses the key provisions of the bill and issues
raised by witnesses and submitters. It also sets out the views and
recommendations of the Committee.
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page