The morning’s idiotic evacuation of the Qantas/Jetstar domestic terminal at Melbourne is a clear reminder of how stupid the lucky country is when it comes to airport security.
One person went in through the out door at the boundary between baggage collection and the airside of the shared arrivals and departures level, incompetently left unguarded by a private security firm that should be terminated forthwith, at about 9.30 am, and the entire terminal had to be evacuated and re-screened.
It happens at least once a year in Australia. At 5.30 pm Qantas and Jetstar flights were still experiencing some residual delays because of what is a failure of commonsense in airport security in this country, as well as a reminder that private security contracts are let on price not competency.
The logical failure is one that assumes a person loaded with a suicide vest has made their way through the totally unprotected baggage claim area, packed with people, to force his way by chance past an unguarded one way door…and gone in the wrong way…in order to attack people inside!
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Australian airports are totally porous in terms of the movements of police officers, baggage handlers and airport workers, especially around external aerobridge and basement doors, contrary to the fiction about identity badges and other protections. As if a badge which is not automatically electronically verified against a data base every time it crosses between areas within an airport means anything.
Security is very important. So important it is left to fools and morons? And designed with so many deliberate holes?
Why not consider these questions from a different direction. That the policy makers know it is all a farce, and really don’t give a damn, as long as the theatrics are maintained.
The evidence for this lies in the behind the scenes resistance of airports and airlines and air freight forwarders to the notion of 100 per cent screening of checked luggage and under floor air cargo.
The security issues falls into two parts. On one hand, if they are considered critical, then the issue is why they are so badly or inefficiently maintained. On the other hand, if these measures only exist for the theatrics, why bother with them at all?
Nothing that is done at Australian airports has on the public record, stopped a single terrorist attack. Or in the US for that matter. In fact, nothing is being done at our airports that would stop a determined attacker. But something may have happened away from our airports. The writer is of the view that intelligent policing in Australia has in fact deterred, anticipated, or otherwise prevented an attack. Whether the writer is right or wrong on this, the maintenance of intelligent policing in this country is very important, and reassuring.
But in the US, where the security theatrics have descended into state sanctioned indecent assaults of everyone from babies to grandparents, similar questioning is at last being voiced at the very top of the Transportation Security Administration or TSA.
Having taken our subservient, unquestioning lead on the theatrics from the US, is it not time to take a lead from the TSA as it steps back from the insanity and does what we already seem to be good at, and use intelligent strategies to reduce the risks?