The Morrison Government is increasing counter-terrorism measures across nine airports by boosting the Australian Federal Police’s capability to disrupt and deter high-risk-incidents.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said 135 additional police and protective service officers, as well as firearm and explosive detection canine handlers, would be rolled out over the next 18 months.
“My first priority is to keep Australians safe and these new measures will help protect thousands of Australians that travel and visit airports every day,” the Prime Minister said.
“We will take no chances when it comes to keeping the community safe and these new enforcement officers will now have increased firearms and protection capabilities to respond to a changing crime environment.
“These highly trained officers run towards dangerous incidents, not away from them, and it is vital they have every resource necessary to help them do their job and protect the community.”
The new AFP Protection Operation Response Team (PORT) officers will be armed Mk18 Short-Barrel Rifles barrelled rifles, have new body cameras and receive training in hostile threat and behaviour assessment, alongside new teams of firearm and explosive detection canines.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said this action was based on longstanding ASIO threat assessment advice.
“Recent global events serve as an important reminder that the threat posed to the public by terrorism and other crime types hadn’t diminished,” Mr Dutton said.
“This national roll-out is a necessary and timely measure to counter aviation security threats and will support the dedicated officers of the AFP in protecting our community.
“We know that Australia is at risk. In July 2017, a major terrorist plot was disrupted targeting a passenger flight departing from Sydney and 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.
“I want to pay tribute to the AFP and all frontline law enforcement officers who dedicate themselves to preventing potential tragedies here on Australian soil – the Morrison Government is committed to ensuring they have the best training and are equipped with the necessary capability to keep Australian’s safe,” Mr Dutton said.
Today’s announcement is part of $107 million package to strengthen aviation security, with funding announced in the 2018-19 Budget.
The rollout of this capability across the nine designated Australian airports will be phased in over the next 18 months.
Australian’s travelling through Canberra or Brisbane will see these new officers patrolling
Over the next six months officers will armed with the new capability will be present in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and the Gold Coast, followed by, Cairns, Adelaide and Darwin Airports in 2021.
The travelling public should be aware while there won’t be any changes to the way they move through Australian airports, they will start seeing PORT members patrolling alongside general duties members, specialised firearm and explosive detection canines and rapid appraisal officers, who are responsible for rapid, targeted assessment of potential explosive threats.