Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Australian Crime Commission shows criminals at docks and airports

A report in "The Age" newspaper today refers to the results of a 3 year investigation by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) which has uncovered "serious weaknesses" in the security of ports and airports.

The ACC's "Crime in the Transport Sector" inquiry suggests, among other things, that associates of outlawed motorcycle groups and other crime groups are working in security at major airports and that one executive of an Asian airline who used his security pass to allegedly smuggle drug money through secure sites at Melbourne airport and onto a plane.

It is blindingly obvious that criminal interests as well as terrorists would focus on airports and ports. That has been happening here in Australia and elsewhere in the world for many years. However the report plays out against the background of significant reforms by Australian government agencies over recent years starting with the measures introduced following 9/11 through to the Wheeler Report from 3 years ago which called for a thorough review of the regime for airport security.

The report suggests that the ACC and others have found that the Maritime and Aviation Security Identification Card regime introduced by the previous Federal Government has proved to be inadequate.

Close to home for those in industry is the ACC's reference to "piggybacking"in which illicit material is secreted in containers registered to or being used by reputable companies. Such containers usually receive less attention from Customs and other agencies. Reportedly the containers are then opened at bond stores and wharves by people "on the inside" and removed for illegal use. This suggests that Customs will need to increase focus on all cargo regardless of reported identity and on activities and personnel at such places. Customs has alluded to such increased attention but not directly to address these types of criminal concerns. Legitimate traders will also be concerned to review and protect their supply chain against such influences and will doubtlessly be reviewing their suppliers of freight, clearance, bond and warehouse services to ensure security.

It will also be interesting to see other Government responses in terms of controls at airport and wharves and issue of security clearances.

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