More hopeless government "security" at an Australian airport

Cairns International Airport is not secure, with knives and even firearms regularly slipping through security checks, an airport insider has revealed. The whistleblower told The Cairns Post he had seen scissors and knives overlooked by security officers checking baggage. The baggage checkers had once failed to pick up a 9mm pistol stashed in luggage as part of a Department of Transport security check. "It's ridiculous," he said. "If I wanted to, I could take a bloody machinegun through there."

Airport security contractor ISS Security has rejected the claims that Cairns' airport checks are not up to par. A company spokesman described the failure of staff to detect the fake firearm as a "systems test". "While the test items resemble prohibited items, they are harmless," he said. The firm has been at the centre of recent claims it failed similar tests at Brisbane airport.

But the Cairns airport insider said that despite his repeated protests about lax security and poorly trained employees in Cairns, none of his complaints had been passed on to management. He also alleged that:

* A baggage handler threw a passenger's suitcase on their bag and swore at him when the passenger complained about how long it took to check baggage.

* A security officer suggested an Asian tourist should slap his wife to keep her quiet while they were arguing.

* Security firm senior staff failed to notice a 9mm pistol stashed in a bag as part of a routine security test - despite X-raying it.

* Management failed to act on reports of scissors and knives not being spotted by security staff.

The allegations come only days after the Queensland branch of the Transport Workers' Union called for an investigation into the security of major international airports, including Cairns and Brisbane. TWU branch secretary Hughie Williams said major international airports, including Cairns, routinely failed to meet minimum security guidelines. "With terrorism a real concern, the Government should be following up on these reports," he said. "The TWU demands a full investigation." The TWU also claims it had received numerous reports of inadequately trained security staff last year.

The Australian Federal Police said they provide additional security and logistical support to 11 major international airports, including Cairns, but day-to-day baggage scanning and security checks were all handled by private security firms.

ISS Security's spokesman said the firm was happy with the security standard it provided. "In the many tests carried out, (there) is no indication of low standards of security, nor can it be used to claim there is any threat to public safety," he said. "Standards at Cairns are consistent with world's best practice."


Posted by John Ray

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