Airport security beefed up

Travellers face full body scans at Australia’s international airports as part of a $200 million beefing-up of security, announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

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Millions will be spent on improving technology to detect explosives, protect trade cargo and increasing the number of police at airports.

The spending was prompted partly by the attempted Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines flights from Amsterdam to Detroit by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was carrying explosives in his underwear.

The government’s recently released aviation white paper also called for increased security measures in the air and at airports.

“The government’s highest priority is the safety and security of Australians,” he said.

Controversial body scanners would also be implemented under the plan, with the government brushing aside suggestions they may inavde travellers’ privacy.

The government would spend $28.5 million to help the industry pay for a range of new screening technologies including body scanners, multi-view x-ray machines, and bottle scanners to detect liquid-based explosives.

“Body scanners will be introduced progressively as an additional screening measure at screening points servicing international departing passengers by early 2011,” Mr Rudd told reporters.

Mr Rudd said $32 million would be set aside for additional screening at regional airports used by large aircraft.

The government will spend $17.7 million to increase the number of firearm and explosive-detection dogs at major airports by 50 per cent.

Another $12.3 million will go towards maintaining the presence of Australian Federal Police officers at big airports.

There will be more stringent training standards for screening staff.

The government will provide $18.2 million to boost security co-operation in the Asia-Pacific region for international flights.

Another $24.9 million will go to boosting intelligence sharing between Customs and law enforcement agencies and improving technology to enable passengers to be cleared faster.

A further $11.4 million will be spent on what Mr Rudd described as “advanced data analysis and risk profiling” to help identify suspected security risks.

“The government will introduce a number of measures to help secure Australia’s air cargo supply chain.

“We will supply $54.2 million to assist industry to install cargo x-ray screening and explosive trace detection technology at appropriate locations.”

The white paper also called for reinforced cockpit doors on all cargo planes.