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Has the budget put flyers’ safety at risk?

Despite its plan to spend nearly $300 million on new and enhanced security measures at some Australian airports, the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has said the Federal Government continues to “severely compromise” aviation security.


Key to its argument are the “gaping holes created by staffing issues”, which would render the Government’s increased budget funding for airport security moot.


Sydney Airport (Getty Images/Brook Mitchell)


“Turnover among airport workers is so high that some staff are accessing secure parts of the airports without proper security clearance,” TWU National Secretary Tony Sheldon said.


“This turnover rate is a direct result of low pay, forced part time work, poor working conditions and it is undermining skills and vigilance at airports.


“Deliberate understaffing and chronic fatigue due to split shifts is also creating an environment where security is being severely compromised.”


The Government plans to spend $293 million on screening upgrades at regional airports and for air cargo, as well as increase police and border security presence at major airports. But the TWU believes the Government needs to “start holding airports and airlines to account over the quality of employment in their supply chains”.


“We cannot expect to have a robust security system through increased screening alone,” he said.


“Frontline staff at our airports must be well trained, security cleared and be paid fairly for the important job they carry out.”


Meanwhile, Tourism Accommodation Australia has welcomed the budget’s new initiatives for tourism, including increased funding for Tourism Australia, with TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi saying the announcements were great news for the sector.


“This Budget is a win for the tourism sector in many areas with infrastructure spending targeted at a range of industry-friendly projects,” Ms Giuseppi said.


“We particularly welcome the $300,000 earmarked for a much needed cruise ship options study for Sydney, as well as funding for an economic zone around Sydney’s second airport and up to $5 billion on the Melbourne Airport Rail link.


“We also welcome the funding increase for Tourism Australia, which will see its total appropriation rise to $162.2 million by 2021/22.”


Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 9 May 2018

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