Oh dear. Max Moore Wilton, CEO of the
Macquarie Bank-backed Sydney Airport, has been badly caught out by
reports of drugs, luggage problems, rogue baggage handlers and poor
security in some parts of the complex. For the owners, Macquarie
Airports, it’s a lesson about the downside of being involved in an
important piece of infrastructure.

In the wake of the Schapelle Corby case, Melbourne and Brisbane
airports have been offering passengers a shrink-wrapping service for
their luggage. But not Sydney. Max Moore Wilton has been too intent on
running a tight ship and turning a deaf ear to calls for a similar

Now, confronted by an insecure airport operation where
staff and passengers face more scrutiny, Max is suddenly a convert. The
shrink-wrap facility for luggage will be coming to Sydney, at a cost of
$2.8 million. But considering that the airport’s “aeronautical security
recovery” charges will total around $35 million in the year to June,
the airport could have easily afforded the new facility at any time.

the most plaintive of Max’s whines last week was to complain about
being left “out of the loop” on the cocaine bust that has enveloped the
airport and Qantas baggage handlers in so much publicity. Max moaned
that the NSW Police had not seen fit to tell him, nor had the NSW
police minister.

“You can be rest assured I will be telling both
federal and state ministers I’m concerned their agencies are not
including us in the loop when there are major issues affecting Sydney
Airport,” he was quoted in The Daily Telegraph.

But the
most laughable moan was his concern that NSW Police have refused to
base state police at the airport (which has Federal Police and Customs
and the Australian Protective Service operating there).

That was
met by a pearler from a NSW Police chief who, knowing the business
tactics of Max, the airport and Macquarie and their strong belief in
the “user pays” principle, told the paper that if the airport wanted
police, they could pay for the privilege.