The union representing public sector workers has cancelled planned strikes at Australia’s major airports following a request from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) members at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources were due to commence rolling stoppages across Australia during the Easter long weekend.
Staff at Adelaide, Cairns, Darwin, Perth and Townsville airports had already commenced industrial action on Wednesday, with workers on strike over a long-running dispute on a new enterprise bargaining agreement.
CPSU members were due to walk off the job at Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney airports for 24 hours on Thursday.
However, CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said called off the strike.
“The decision has been made after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in response to the terrorist attacks overnight in Brussels, called on union members in Immigration and Border Force officers not to strike tomorrow,” the CPSU said on its website on Wednesday morning.
We will suspend DIBP Border Force DAWR Airport strikes in response to PM's call after Brussels attacks. @NadineFloodCPSU 11.30 media conf.
— CPSU (@CPSUnion) March 22, 2016
The terrorist attacks in Brussels overnight, with bombs exploding at Brussels Airport and at a train station in the city, have killed at least 31 people and injured hundreds more.
Brussels Airport has been closed to commercial flights, with only empty ferry flights flying to the Belgium capital, according to FlightRadar 24.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 22, 2016
Airlines have offered passengers booked to travel to or from Brussels the option of switching flights without penalty or obtaining refunds.
Australian Airports Association said in a statement its members were consulting closely with government regulators and intelligence agencies to ensure security measures at airports were appropriate given the “evolving threat environment”.
“We have consulted with the relevant agencies since the tragic bombing at Brussels Airport and at this stage, as confirmed by the Prime Minister, there is no proposed increase to the security threat level and no additional security measures have been proposed at Australia’s airports,” the AAA said.
“The government, airports and airlines have for some time worked on contingency plans that can be effected quickly should the security threat level increase as a result of clear intelligence from government agencies.
“A strong, visible AFP presence at major airports will continue to support the multi-layered security measures in place to help mitigate threats.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Australia had a strong security system.
“You cannot guarantee that there will be no terrorist incident,” Turnbull told ABC News.
“But I can assure Australians that our security system, our border protection, our domestic security arrangements, are much stronger than they are in Europe where regrettably they allowed security to slip.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs’ Smart Traveller website has asked Australians to reconsider any travel to Belgium following the attacks.
“We recommend you reconsider your need to travel to Belgium at this time,” the website says.
“Australians in Belgium should remain attentive to their surroundings, avoid affected areas and follow the instructions of local authorities, including staying where they are and remaining indoors.”
Attorney-General George Brandis said Australia’s terror alert level was, for now, remaining at “probable”.
“These alert levels are kept under review at all times and in light of an event of this kind obviously they, the officials who make these judgements will turn their mind to this question,” Brandis told ABC Radio’s AM program.
“But at the moment the Australian terror alert level remains at probable, which is where it has been since September of 2014.”