The government and opposition have sparred over the changes proposed in the recently released Aviation White Paper which will extend security screening to a number of additional airports around Australia.
Shadow transport minister Warren Truss MP said in a statement issued on December 22 that the additional screening requirements outlined by the government will add massive costs to regional services, with a resultant increase in fares for regional passengers.
“Some councils will face the cost of completely rebuilding their airport terminals to meet the new security requirements,” said Truss. “Expensive x-ray equipment will need to be purchased and new secure areas built for passengers and luggage. If the full cost is directed at airlines – and then onto passengers – it will make services to some airports unviable.”
In response, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese attacked the previous government’s approach to aviation security, which only made screening compulsory at airports where jet aircraft operate to. “Our policy will also increase choice for consumers and support regional economies by putting airlines using jet and propeller aircraft on a level playing field when it comes to air services to and from regional airports,” he said.
“Mr Truss’s irresponsible approach is typical of an Opposition that pretends to talk tough on security but opposes any real policies to make flying more secure,” added Minister Albanese.
Under the changes proposed in the White Paper, security screening initially will be extended to all airports handling aircraft with a maximum takeoff weight of 30,000kg or more, and extending to 20,000kg in 2014. This will encompass a number of airports where Bombardier Q400 turboprops operate, but smaller turboprops such as the Q300 and Saab 340 fall outside the 20,000kg limit.