The Australian Government has announced beefed up security measures at 9 Australian airports. The measures include Australian Federal (AFP) police officers with assault rifles. While making the announcement the government said the security threat level hasn’t changed.
The Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), Australia’s domestic spy agency, recommended the implementation of new Protection Operation Response Teams (PORT). PORT officers will be equiped with Mk18 Short-Barrel Rifles and body cameras. PORT members will be trained to undertake behavioural assesments. More explosive dectecting canines will also be rolled out. There will be 135 PORT officers.
The rollout will see PORT officers in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Gold Coast airports within the next 6 months. Cairns, Adelaide and Darwin Airports will follow in 2021. A trial has already been undertaken at Canberra Airport. The rollout will commence at Brisbane Airport before Christmas.
The Federal Government is increasing counter-terrorism measures across nine airports by boosting the Australian Federal Police's capability to disrupt and deter high-risk-incidents. Our first priority is always to keep Australians safe. @ScottMorrisonMP @AusFedPolice pic.twitter.com/9llpOva4XH
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) December 6, 2019
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the average passenger is not expected to undergo increased screening. He further said, “And so as we as people move around, they will see these officers appearing more and more around airports. And I would hope that that gives people a great sense of reassurance. They are there to protect the public and the travelling public. Today’s announcement doesn’t reflect the change to the risk level that implies, but what it does recognise is an understanding of the new world which we all live in today. And I think all Australians understand there needs to be a heightened sense of security, particularly in places like airports, as we’ve seen in many other places of public gathering. This is common sense, this is understanding the world in which we live in. The message here is that we are very much looking to continue to stay ahead of these issues.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton told media, “We know that Australia is at risk. In July 2017, a major terrorist plot was disrupted targeting a passenger flight departing from Sydney. Just this week, our law enforcement agencies have arrested a 21 year old who is alleged to have been involved in advocating and preparing for terrorist acts.”
The Australian Government has budgeted $107 million (£55.79 million, €66.04 million, $US73.26 million) for the new measures.
Australia’s terror level threat has been at probable, the 3rd of 5 levels, since September 2014.