Aviation

Proposed airport rules under fire for targeting innocent Aussies

Ali Coulton

It was considered one of the most sophisticated plots ever attempted in Australia, one which Authorities said came close to becoming a “catastrophic event”.

We are of course talking about the terrorist attempt to blow up an Etihad Airlines flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in July last year, where two men attempted to bring a bomb onboard hidden in a meat grinder.

The plot was foiled at the last moment only because the bag was deemed too heavy at the check-in counter.

Now, police claim the attempt and others like it could be prevented much sooner with the introduction of new rules giving officers greater powers at airports, according to Nine News.

The proposed rules, which are currently being reviewed by a parliamentary committee, are part of proposed amendments to the Crimes Act and Australian Federal Police Act and would give officers the power to perform ID checks on anyone acting suspiciously.

Officers would also be able to make travellers leave the airport, or prevent them from boarding a flight, for 24 hours.

Currently, police can ask for ID at airports, but they can only demand it if they suspect a person has or is about to commit a crime punishable by at least 12 months in jail.

The Law Council of Australia has identified two major problems with the proposed changes, according to News Corp, claiming the powers are too broad and could infringe on the rights of innocent travellers, and secondly the changes aren’t subject to judicial review.

The ambiguity of the legislation “creates uncertainty” according to the Council, which could lead to the powers being applied “in an arbitrary and ad hoc manner”.

“These laws need to be proportionate and directed to matters relating to safety and criminal activity. Providing powers at large to police which are not tempered by these factors could lead to innocent citizens having their rights interfered with, given the broad nature of the discretion given to police,” Arthur Moses SC, President-elect of the Law Council, said, according to News Corp.

The Council also said the power to order travellers not to take a flight could have “significant economic implications” and will cause a great degree of inconvenience.

“These powers have the potential to significantly impact on individual rights and freedoms,” Moses said.

“Allowing for judicial review of these orders does not compromise the objectives of the bill, but rather provides a safeguard to ensure the proposed powers are being exercised in an appropriate manner.”

Featured image source: The New Daily 

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