Police to have new powers to check IDs at airports

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“People should be free to live without arbitrary harassment and being forced to carry ID wherever they go,” Senator McKim said. “Demanding people produce documents on the spot is a hallmark of police states.”

Police will be given sweeping new powers to demand identification from travellers under new laws to boost counter-terrorism efforts at Australia’s airports.

The Australian Federal Police will be able to ask anyone for ID and eject them from the airport as part of a 2018 budget announcement that will also see the introduction of advanced X-ray and body scanning machines across the country.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull conceded the new powers were a big step but said they were necessary for “dangerous times”.

Mr Turnbull said the terror attacks in the Indonesian city of Surabaya in recent days were a reminder that the threat still existed.

“The justification for changing the law so that police at an airport can ask you to identify yourself, the justification is the safety of the Australian people,” he said.

Under existing laws, police can only demand ID if they have reasonable grounds to suspect someone is involved in criminal activity.

“There’s certain conditions that need to be met at the moment before police can ask for that identification,” said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. “Which is an absurdity and it’s an issue that the police have raised with us. So we’re addressing an anomaly and a deficiency in the law at the moment.”

The new rules will not require travellers to carry ID.

Greens senator Nick McKim said the new rules were indicative of a “slow march of authoritarianism” that must be resisted.

“People should be free to live without arbitrary harassment and being forced to carry ID wherever they go,” Senator McKim said. “Demanding people produce documents on the spot is a hallmark of police states.”

John Coyne, head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s border security program, said random ID checks risked damaging social cohesion and increasing the risk of extremism in some communities while offering no clear benefits.

“Right now are there people with beards and dark skin concerned they’re going to be targeted to show identification at the airport,” Dr Coyne said.

“In this case there’s no clear, substantial increase in security and it just ends up in providing a number of negative impacts.”

Unlike many jurisdictions, passengers who checked-in to Australian domestic flights online will still be able to board domestic flights without showing ID to either security or airline staff.

Dr Coyne said was unlikely to be changed because of the “incredible” amount of money airlines and airports saved by not having to check IDs.

“The argument here is that the next best thing is, let’s be able to ask people for identification if we want it from them,” he said.

The Turnbull government’s budget laid out $294 million in funding for airport security, which will see 190 further counter-terrorism police officers and 50 in technical and intelligence support positions.

The body scanners and X-ray equipment will be rolled out at airports across the country, with regional airports receiving $50 million in funding. Inbound air cargo and international mail also face improved screening technology.

Mr Dutton said the new body and luggage scanning technology was the best in the world for detecting explosives.

“Because we are worried about gels, we are worried about liquids, worried about explosive devices in different forms being taken onto aircraft,” he said.

The tightened security follows the discovery of a plot last year to bomb an Etihad A380 leaving Sydney.

“Had that been successful, hundreds of people would have, of course, lost their lives. But it would have had an enormous impact on the psyche of the Australian travelling public as well as a multi-billion dollar impact on our brand, on international students, on tourism etc,” Mr Dutton said on Tuesday.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/dangerous-times-police-to-have-new-powers-to-check-ids-at-airports-20180515-p4zfbg.html

 

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