23 March 2009

More deficiencies in airport security exposed

Yesterday's attack at Sydney Airport has, apart from alarming many people , predictably produced a rapid response announcement of a review into procedures:

The NSW Police Gang Squad has been more than doubled and the Australian Federal Police have launched a review after a man was bludgeoned to death in front of horrified passengers in a gang attack at Sydney Airport yesterday.

Four men will face court this afternoon charged with affray after the 29-year-old western Sydney man was repeatedly pummelled in the head with a metal pole, used to keep passengers in line during check-in, at the domestic terminal.

Police say the brawl started when motorcycle gang members flew into Sydney from Melbourne and were met by members of a rival gang about 1:30pm yesterday.

Witnesses say security staff and police were slow to act as the brawl between at least 15 rival bikies spilled from the airport's secured section into the check-in area, where they bashed each other with poles in front of up to 50 witnesses.

The buckpassing has already begun:

Despite the attack generating headlines internationally, Sydney Airport Corporation, which owns and operates the airport, says the attack is nothing to do with them and has referred any questions to Qantas.

Qantas is offering counselling to staff who witnessed the attack but is otherwise happy with how its security staff dealt with the brawl.

Both organisations point to the Australian Federal Police as responsible for overall law enforcement.

Of the media comments I've read so far today's Crikey editorial (subscription required) has summed up one of the major issues forthrightly and succinctly:

If one thing is proven beyond doubt by the bikie brawl at Sydney airport it is that the gestures of the past decade toward airport security are nothing more than a highly expensive, inconvenient public relations posture.

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