A number of points come to mind over the federal government’s latest
“security” clamp down at airports. First, why is the federal police
involved? After all a federal police
officer has been suspended in connection with an alleged cocaine
smuggling ring at Sydney
airport and there have been other suggestions (on the Sunday program) of federal police involvement or indifference to airport related crime.

Surely there’s a conflict of interest?

The federal police are the prime frontline police force in federal
areas of responsibility so any inquiry should be independent of them
it will canvass the feds’ role in the detection and prosecution of
acts. If Commissioner Keelty gives his force a clean bill of health,
can we believe it?

All airport staff were checked and had their passes
re-issued 12 to 18 months ago. A former employee of Qantas tells me that to be
able to move airside (past customers and on to the tarmac and into departure
areas) airline employees have had to undergo two checks: one by the federal police and the other by ASIO.

If the federal police checks have been found wanting, who
will bag the force and its political masters?

The federal government has spent hundreds of millions of
dollars, introduced new laws giving Asio and the Feds more powers since September
11, all in the name of anti-terror policies. Attorney General Phillip
Ruddock said on AM this morning that the focus had been on
terror and not crime since September 11.

That’s the government indicted by its chief law officer
and one of the driving forces behind the country’s tough migration and
detention laws.

But criminal activity has always been a much bigger threat
to the federal government than terrorism in Australia.

The Howard Government has pocketed $10 billion from airport
privatisation, passengers already pay fuel levies, security levies, Ansett
levies and departure taxes, so why sting travellers for any
increased security from the latest round of buck shuffling?

It’s being done to cover up the incompetence of John
Anderson, successive attorneys-general and the federal police.

Sydney Airport will collect
around $35 to $37 million this financial year in
what it calls the recovery of security costs. That’s obviously the money spent screening our bags and
passengers through the airport.

National security and criminal detection are matters for the
government: airports are now privately-owned, so both the owners of the
airports and the federal government have the primary responsibility to pay for
the cost of investigations, detection and prosecution, and not individual