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Tighter Aussie airport security likely to lengthen queues

August 8, 2014 Airport, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Airports in Australia are set to tighten security and scan travellers leaving the country as well as when they arrive – a process that could lengthen queues.  

A report in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph outlined the procedures to be rolled out at airport departure gates across Australia in coming months. They include facial recognition and biometric screening – probably electronic fingerprinting as well.

The red flag went up after convicted terrorist Khaled Sharrouf slipped out of Australia last year using his brother’s passport.

Additionally, airlines will also be asked to provide advance passenger departure information to authorities, to facilitate advance screening.

While polls show most Australians support those sort of robust measures to protect security, Flight Centre boss Graham Turner warned that increased security at airports overseas has created lengthy queues.

Turner described delays at US airport as “terrible”, and it seems that some other major tourism destinations are not much better. Turner told the Sydney Morning Herald of his recent experience at Terminal 5 in Heathrow where it took him 90 minutes to get through the fast track. Perhaps “fast track” is the wrong term.

The easier you can make the entry process, the better for tourism, Turner pointed out.

The looming security crackdown at airports follows a global threat assessment that focused on the prospect of Islamic jihadists returning to Australia from Syria and Iraq, and the potential for new terrorist networks to emerge in Indonesia.

The Telegraph reported that a “crack team of 80 national security officers, tapped into spy and counter terrorism agencies” would be deployed at Australian airports to stop terror suspects slipping through in either direction.

No sooner had Australia’s cabinet approved a AUD 600 million boost to counter-terrorism funding earlier this week than the Abbott government was seeking an urgent report into allegations that widespread visa fraud is threatening Australia’s national security on another front.

Confidential internal documents obtained by Fairfax Media allegedly show that tens of thousands of people have been helped by crime networks to live in Australia by exploiting loopholes in programs for working, student, family and humanitarian visas. The Immigration Department is not equipped to investigate and tackle the migration rackets, the report said.

If true, it sounds like Australia may be tightening up security at the front door while leaving the back door open.

Written by : Peter Needham

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