‘Ready for take-off’: Australia’s need for a comprehensive airport security and policing review


For seventeen years, Australian governments only needed to mention ‘terrorism’ and ‘airports’ in the same sentence to get public support for new security measures. With each new disrupted terror plot, or tragedy, consecutive governments would announce new security measures, and of course additional resources, with little or no opposition. It is unsurprising then that today, we have not so much a well-designed security framework protecting our airports, as a legacy of layered new and old measures.

With the Western Sydney Airport set to open in 2026 the time is right for a rethink of what the next generation of airport security ought to look like. And if we move fast enough, there might be time to build this system from the ground up in Western Sydney.

The last time Australia substantially reviewed its airport security was in 2005, when Northern Ireland’s former Security Minister Sir John Wheeler completed ‘An Independent Review of Airport Security and Policing for the Government of Australia’. At the time Wheeler found that ‘Experience around the world has demonstrated that airport policing and security is a specialist field requiring dedicated and trained officers, integrated systems, appropriate technology, and real partnerships between federal and state agencies and relevant private sector personnel.’ Wheeler was right, and arguably these principles are still axioms for those responsible for airport security today. Although, I would argue that he left out one key adjective: ‘holistically managed’…Click here to read full article.