Security an inconvenient choice

August 10, 2017

Sydney airline passengers are experiencing long delays at Australian airports as security is beefed up following a number of terror raids.

Can we get the powers that be to justify the well-publicised new security mandate that passengers arrive ‘‘two hours before departure time for domestic and three hours for international flights in Australia for extra screening’’.

I can tell you now after my personal experience during the weekend gone, you do not have to do this, at least not during the early-morning flights.

My partner and I followed the instructions, give or take half an hour, and walked through screening in five minutes, if that, at Tullamarine, and we were also pulled aside and had to open our bags for a check.

So we woke up weary eyed at 4am fearing some kind of avalanche of personal space invasion that didn’t eventuate.

There were no crazy lines and in the taxi drive to the airport we were told by the driver, no-one has had any trouble whatsoever, except for the day after the initial announcement — although reports in Sydney showed people are lining up well outside the airport.

The airports weren’t equipped for everyone to rock up at the exact same time, it seems. If people do follow the instructions, chaos ensues.

At the least, it is a minor inconvenience like the one we experienced, or it could potentially cause delays to happen which cost the airlines thousands of dollars, and at the worst you could have thousands of people in a public space that could become a target of a terrorist attack.

The Belgium airport attack was caused by people posing as travellers casually strolling into position to cause maximum harm. With a static line-up of people, they could wreak havoc here.

It got me thinking, is this even necessary or going to make it safer?

The security beef-up was announced after Australian Federal Police successfully foiled a terrorist cell planning an attack when an initial plan to get a bomb on a plane didn’t happen. The foiled attack wasn’t going to happen at the airport.

AFP commissioner Andrew Colvin has said in interviews to media, if the improvised bomb device hidden in a meat grinder was checked in as luggage, he is 100 per cent confident the bomb would have been discovered before it got anywhere, so why all the fuss?

My cynical self says the big security news is politically motivated on the back of Peter Dutton’s new super home affairs security portfolio announcement.

I’m all for the security of the nation, and the AFP do an excellent job right now, but do we have to continue to plough hundreds of millions of dollars into these bureaucracies when there are so many other areas taxpayers’ money could go to?

As Ross Gittins wrote in his Sydney Morning Herald column recently, ‘‘in the past two decades, just three people have died as victims of terrorist attacks (broadly defined) in Australia’’.

Professor Greg Austin, of the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at the University of NSW, has written that more Australians have died at the hands of police, lawfully or unlawfully, in 10 years — at least 50 between 2006 and 2015 — than from terrorist attacks in Australia in the past 20 years.

More than 318 people died from domestic violence just in 2014 and 2015, yet more is spent on terrorism.

If this whole security hysteria becomes the norm I think myself and many others will be choosing to do the road trip for interstate destinations such as NSW because by the time you calculate all the travelling time to the airport and the waiting time you could be halfway to your destination in the car.

Declan Martin is a News journalist.

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