Security at Australia’s airports and seaports will be tightened through amendments to legislation being introduced today.

The changes to the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 will strengthen the ability of authorities to refuse access to aviation and maritime infrastructure by persons convicted of serious or organised crime.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the changes will enhance the Aviation and Maritime Security Identification Card schemes that operate in airports and seaports.

“Organised crime is a serious threat to our national security and is also estimated to cost the Australian economy $36 billion a year,” Mr Truss said.

“These amendments deliver on the Australian Government’s commitment to ensure that people with a relevant criminal history can never receive a security clearance to work at Australia’s airports and seaports.”

Supporting the amendments, the Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism Michael Keenan said the ASIC and MSIC schemes are designed to protect the aviation and maritime transport systems against acts of terrorism and unlawful interference.

“Changes introduced today will boost our law enforcement agencies ability to combat transnational and domestic organised crime by introducing additional offences to capture high risk criminal activities,” Mr Keenan said

“This will mean Australia’s airports and seaports are less susceptible to exploitation from serious or organised crime.

“We know that Australia has become a target for organised criminals from all around the world because Australians are paying top dollar for the misery these crooks peddle like the drug ice.

“Importantly, today’s changes will implement the National Ice Taskforce’s recommendation to strengthen the ASIC and MSIC schemes to limit the distribution of ice throughout the community.”

The new criteria will be applied to new applications, and applications by existing ASIC and MSIC card holders, from 1 July 2016.

Source: Dept Infrastructure and Regional Development