Airport security must improve: consultant
October 27, 2010 – 3:19PM
Australian airports are vulnerable to “unhinged nutters” and security must be ramped up in and around terminals, a counter terrorism consultant says.
Security has improved but problems still exist at airports which handle freight goods estimated to be worth about $22 billion a year, says Homeland Security Asia Pacific chief Roger Henning.
A lack of standardised training in the industry, too many casual workers, manually monitored CCTV, as well as taxi drivers operating on airport precincts using international licenses and borrowed driver identification are fodder for an attack, he says.
There was too much reliance on technology, not enough focus on a “culture of security” and little monitoring of the grounds around airports, he said.
“Air-travellers fly with a false sense of security in Australia,” the security training provider said at an Australian Airports Association conference in Adelaide.
He warned that airports contributed an estimated three per cent of state and territory GDP and any shutdown of Sydney airport, for instance, could cost about $1 billion a week.
He also told airport owners they were bound to protect airports – and open to class actions if they fail.
Adelaide Airport’s security was recently breached when a man rammed his car into the terminal and in Melbourne, a tourist scaled a fence and also made it onto the tarmac.
Airports were vulnerable to terrorism but that any potential attack was just as likely to come from a disgruntled spouse or employee, he said.
“Airports are all vulnerable to penetration by unhinged nutters,” Mr Henning said.
Adelaide Airport’s general manager of corporate affairs, John McArdle, said outside the conference that he was “alert but not alarmed” by the presentation.
“I’d suggest that the issues raised will raise the level of alertness and increase people’s awareness that they need to be conscious and vigilant,” Mr McArdle said.
“But I don’t think there is any need to overcook the omelette, so to speak, because to have 100 per cent security, you stop moving.”
He was as “confident as we can be”, about security measures at Adelaide Airport, which he says mitigated the recent risk when a man recently rammed his car into the airport fence.
He also played down the perceived threat of taxi drivers using false identification.
“I find the taxi industry in any state to be fairly robust, there’s a lot of checks and balances, but sure there’s going to be some rogues amongst any industry.”
© 2010 AAP
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