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Crime rife in our ports

Release date: 17/06/2011

A parliamentary committee is urging a massive overhaul of airport and marine port security to fight the rise of crime networks in Australia.

Catherine Hocley, Adelaide, June 17, 2011

The law enforcement committee calls for all travellers to show photo identification to board a plane, expansion of CCTV cameras, as well as extra dog squads in airports.

And the committee’s report released yesterday also calls for an overhaul of the licensing system for workers at airports and port facilities, including fingerprint recognition technology.

But Qantas has already indicated it will refuse to conduct the photo checks because of the cost estimated to be "many millions of dollars, not including data storage and transmission costs".

Yesterday, the Transport Workers Union warned that the report was calling for more security efforts in a climate where staffing was being reduced.

"The only way of checking the identification of people getting on planes is to put people back in the terminal," national secretary Tony Sheldon said.

The committee says Australia’s air and marine ports are providing a breeding ground for organised crime.

"Over the course of this inquiry, the committee has received significant evidence of infiltration of the aviation and maritime sectors by serious and organised criminal networks," the report says.

"Evidence provided to the committee by the Australian Crime Commission and other agencies and obtained during an extensive set of site visits around the country have led the committee to the view that serious and organised criminality in the aviation and maritime sectors poses a very real threat to Australia." Criminal activity included importation of illicit goods, with drugs being the most common commodity, money laundering, firearms movement, smuggling of flora and fauna, theft, tariff and excise evasion and counterfeiting.

The financia’ cost to Australia of these crimes could be as high as $15 billion, the committee said.

The report also warns: "TRUSTED insiders" working in airports and ports are helping crime gangs.

UP TO 2000 smaller airports and airstrips across the nation have little or no passenger screening procedures.

HIGH turnover of security staff in airports is "deeply" concerning and could lead to security lapses.

Click here to read the story on the Adelaide Advertiser website

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