Griffith Council is awaiting further instructions before moving on calls to install screening security, after a statement from the Minister of Transport calling regional airports weak spots.
Transport Minister Darren Chester has ordered a review of security at regional airports, following warnings from terrorism experts, airline pilots and unions that they are the spots most vulnerable to jihadist attack.
Griffith Business Chamber’s President Paul Pierotti is reiterating his call for the Griffith Council to add airport security before it becomes mandatory.
“The outcome of this latest research from the government is all regional airports need security, and if that is the outcome then there will be funding provided for that… but it’s irrelevant, we need to get on with it whether that’s the case or not, it’s not going to happen in two minutes.”
As well as having concerns for safety, Mr Pierotti believes having screening in Griffith Airport will attract more airline carriers.
“It would open competition and welcome many other public passenger airlines on any route, but preferably Griffith – Melbourne and Griffith – Sydney routes.”
“Our survey of the business and community residents, as well as The Area News poll showed that passengers would be more than willing to pay extra for the security.”
Despite Mr Pierotti’s assertions, Mayor John Dal Broi maintains his previous position to hold off on any further security upgrades for consumer cost effectiveness.
“If we were to introduce baggage scanning that would create an operational cost that would impact on every passenger and also every air service regardless if they were legislatively required or not, this could have a detrimental impact on future negotiations with attracting new airlines,” Cr Dal Broi said.
“The recent media reporting of the four men recently arrested in Sydney shows they were still prepared to take on the baggage scanners in their alleged attempt to blow up a plane.”
“We have already had discussions with REX and their comment was they would not be very keen at all to impose the extra levy on the passengers.”
“The comments from the transport workers union as reported in ABC news requiring a review is all well and good but should not end with another case of cost shifting to local government.”
Griffith Airport Coordinator Bob Campbell, like the Mayor is also awaiting further instruction on how to proceed.
“We haven’t been notified of any changes to our protocol, at the moment, so it’s business as usual, but we will keep tabs on the situation and if there are changes recommended we will certainly look at them,” Mr Campbell said.
In addition, Cr Dal Broi disagrees with Mr Pierotti about the benefits of preemptive security upgrades.
“Myself and the General Manager have approached a number of airline companies to see if there was any interest... but none of them at this stage have committed,” Cr Dal Broi said.
“I am reluctant to put the cart before the horse by spending one million dollars in the pretext that someone may come.”