Australian airport security rules target baggage handlers | News | DW | 22.10.2017
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Australian airport security rules target baggage handlers

With the growing threat of terrorism targeting the aviation industry, Australia has bolstered its security checks. Baggage handlers, caterers and maintenance staff will now be subjected to explosives tests and more.

Australian Transport Minister Darren Chester on Sunday announced that airport workers in the country will be subjected to explosives tests and additional checks under new measures aimed at bolstering security at airports after a failed attempt to smuggle an explosive device onto a plane.

The new measures aim to ensure safeguards with regards to casual workers and sub-contractors, something for which which pilots and terrorism experts have long lobbied.

Read more: Australia approves indefinite detention of convicted terrorists

"These measures strengthen existing controls to ensure airport workers are authorized, properly identified and appropriately trained before entering secure airside areas," said Chester. "They may also be subject to security screening in the course of their duties."

In July, police foiled "Islamic-inspired" plans to smuggle a bomb onto an Emirates flight from Sydney, arresting four men in city-wide raids. One of the suspects had attempted to bring an improvised explosive device onto a flight days before.

'Only screened on a random basis'

Some lawmakers believe the measures aren't enough to cope with the growing threat to aviation security. Independent Senator Nick Xenophon told ABC radio that more needed to be done to ensure the safety of passengers and workers.

Australians would be shocked to learn that "those who have access to aircraft – the baggage handlers, caterers and everyone else who can have access to an aircraft – aren't screened or are only screened on a random basis," said Xenophon.

Read more: Germany's intelligence agency warns of 'Islamic State' sympathizers

Earlier this month, the Council of Australian Governments signed off on an agreement to share facial biometric data and provide federal police with real-time access to passport, visa, citizenship and driver's license images for criminal investigations.

In 2014, Australia raised its terror-alert level to high amid fears of foreign fighters returning from the Middle East after fighting alongside militant groups there.

ls/rc (dpa, Reuters)

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