Serious criminals will no longer be able to work in the most sensitive areas of Australia’s airports, seaports and offshore facilities, under new changes to transport security regulations.
Home affairs minister Karen Andrews on Monday said the changes, including new eligibility criteria for people holding aviation or maritime security identification cards (ASIC and MSIC), had ‘closed a loophole’ allowing criminals to transport illicit goods across the border.
“The Morrison government will not let people in positions of trust at our airports and seaports abuse that trust to import weapons, drugs, and other illicit substances into Australia,” she said.
“Australians rightly expect that people with connections to organised crime are not given unescorted access to runways and cargo ships.”
The changes deliver on a recommendation of the National Ice Taskforce, by ensuring that people with serious criminal convictions are ineligible to hold an ASIC or MSIC.
In its 2015 final report, the taskforce noted that a number of independent reviews had found that serious and organised criminals were ‘exploiting secure maritime and aviation areas for criminal purposes, and recommended that the eligibility criteria for ASIC and MSIC holders be strengthened.
“These [ASIC and MSIC] schemes currently focus on minimising the risk of unlawful interference with aviation and maritime transport on the basis of a criminal history check and national security assessment. They do not currently consider criminal intelligence as part of the background checking process,” the taskforce noted.
Andrews said she planned to further strengthen the schemes in the coming year by introducing criminal intelligence assessments into the background checking process.
“These common-sense measures will stop criminal infiltration, protect our community, and ensure the integrity of Australia’s border,” she said.