Feb 7, 2012

The $28m pantomime of airport body scanners

Airport body scanners have no demonstrated value, but the government is spending $28 million on them.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

No cost-benefit analysis was conducted before the government’s decision to impose body scanning on international passengers departing the country, the government has revealed.


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58 thoughts on “The $28m pantomime of airport body scanners

  1. Chris Tallis

    Don’t worry bernard murdochs minions will be all over this in no time flat.
    Or maybe not.

  2. Wendy Harmer

    Could not agree more. This is absolute garbage. All I thought on hearing this decision was another win for the security industry – from screen doors, to security cameras and radars – it NEVER stops. All is about instilling a false sense of security in an age when we have never been safer. You want danger, read Barbara Tuchman’s ” Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century” and get a bit of perspective. I am utterly appalled. These days it’s not “bread and circuses” that wins hearts and minds , but lockdowns, tasers and prisons. God help us. Wha have we become?

  3. Meski

    It’s all about “We have to be seen to be doing something” rather than “we have to do something useful”

  4. Jimmy

    Before all the usual suspects start banging on about ALP waste it should be noted that according to Joe Hockey last night $70b over 4 years in savings is a drop in the ocean so I assume $28m is probably just spare change you find down the back of the couch. Also I think you would find the libs would be very supportive of this “waste”.

    As for the actual issue, is it really the biggest issue we can be discussing?

  5. Jimmy

    Meski – “It’s all about “We have to be seen to be doing something” rather than “we have to do something useful”” You are right, if these scanners weren’t installed and something did happen the media would be rabid with “the govt let us down, for only $28m we could of had these scanners” whether the scanners were effective or not.

  6. NeoTheFatCat

    Or the more definitive example: “We must do something. This is something. Therefore, we must do this.”

    The only time I have been through one of these scanners was last year, at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. What I appreciated about their set-up is that the security person ‘invites’ you to look at the image at the same time as them, which at least is reassuring (ie. no perving in a back room somewhere).

    My experience of the random explosive residue test is that they are only random if you have white skin. If you have dark skin (like me), then they’re mandatory. And I fully expect the same will apply with these new scanners.

  7. Meski

    @Neo: Not so, I’m white, but seem to get the explosive residue test 95% of the time. Then again, maybe I just fit the profile.

  8. Dale Jackson

    In the UK only a few airports use scanners (and these will be removed shortly) and if you have strong feelings about the issue you can avoid them by choosing your airport of departure. Anyone refusing to be scanned and who is refused flight always has the option of a ferry or the Eurostar. How will Australia deal with a foreign national who refuses the scan? Suggest they take a very long cruise?

    These scanners will slow down the whole process of security and the large number of false positives will produce MORE invasive pat downs not less.

  9. Rena Zurawel

    What worries me mostly is the ‘zero tolerance’ approach. I think the government have gone mad. What about people who cannot possibly be exposed to the radiation? Pregnant women, little babies, people with heart diseases etc.
    An obviously the politicians and business people who have to commute to work, as well as the airport employees.
    But the funny thing is that the silly scanners would NEVER prevent any serious threat. The terrorist attack can come from the land and the sea and from any public or private means of transport .
    The assumption that every terrorist or terrorist organisation are suicidal is very naive, to say the least.
    I smell hypocricy, and predict passengers’ harrasment, and incredible delays in the transport which is meant to carry us quickly to our destination.
    These scanners have absolutely nothing to do with security. It has been proven in the USA and at the Amsterdam airport that they can be switched off any time by anybody.
    And, we can say good bye to our already fragile tourist industry.
    Instead of building a fast train network in Australia and spend the money on job creation within our country we have decided to feed hungry foreign companies? Nanny state for foreigners? How does it work?

  10. zut alors

    ‘Theatre’ is the appropriate word. We are in danger of developing the same condition as the Yanks ie: fear of everything. People can be controlled with fear, it’s a handy tool.

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