Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone caused
plenty of tut-tutting when she told the truth recently about the absurd nature
of many airline security arrangements. Her particular dislike, as explained to
what she thought was a private chat with members of an Adelaide Rotary Club, was
the insistence on the use of plastic cutlery because an ordinary knife might be
transformed in to a deadly weapon.

Why then, Senator Vanstone postulated, were
sharpened HB pencils permitted on board when they could be fatal if used to stab
someone in the eye? Labor members could scarcely contain their rage as they
attacked the sensible minister for treating airline security as if it was some
kind of joking matter.

It will be interesting to see the reaction from those
same Labor members to a new plan by the Transportation Security Administration
of the United States which would allow airline passengers to bring scissors and
other sharp objects in their carry-on bags because the items no longer pose the
greatest threat to airline security.

According to The Washington Post, the TSA
Director Edmund S. “Kip” Hawley told aviation industry leaders in a series of
briefings this week that he plans to announce changes at airport security
checkpoints that would allow scissors less than four inches long and tools, such
as screwdrivers, less than seven inches long.

Washington Post report
said TSA officials now want airport screeners to spend more of their time
looking for improvised explosive devices rather than sharp objects. The
TSA’s internal studies show that carry-on-item screeners spend half of their
screening time searching for cigarette lighters, a recently banned item, and
that they open 1 out of every 4 bags to remove a pair of scissors, according to
sources briefed by the agency.

Officials believe that other security measures
now in place, such as hardened cockpit doors, would prevent a terrorist from
commandeering an aircraft with box cutters or scissors.