darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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TRANSCRIPT SKY NEWS AM AGENDA 1 JUNE 2017

DARREN CHESTER:

Well it is worrying, obviously, for the passengers and crew on board and I am very thankful, obviously, that people have returned back to Melbourne safely. I want to thank them, though, for the action they took in subduing what appears to be an unruly passenger. We don’t know the full details now, exactly of what was transpiring on the plane. But it appears that a passenger attempted to gain access to the cockpit and that didn’t occur…

KIERAN GILBERT:

No, have you been told how many passengers were involved in subduing that individual?

DARREN CHESTER:

Well, I have got some information which seems to be a bit vague on that.  There seems to be multiple passengers involved. I am sure there is probably crew involved, as well but I can’t speculate. Let’s let the dust settle a bit and get the full report and find out what actually transpired on the plane. But, it does appear a passenger sought to gain access to the cockpit, it wasn’t achieved. And there is discussion about whether he had a device or not. There is no suggestion at all that the security arrangements didn’t work in terms of screening of luggage, screening of passengers. You know, 100 per cent of that was all undertaken for aircraft departing from Melbourne. The advice I have received is the screening equipment was working.

KIERAN GILBERT:

So, the thing that this individual said was a bomb, was harmless basically? That is the expectation at this stage?

DARREN CHESTER:

Well, I don’t want to speculate but I’ll receive that advice as the morning goes on. But I understand that the security arrangements were in place and did work. That we have 100 per cent screening of luggage and passengers, leaving major ports like Australia – like Tullamarine in Melbourne. The bottom line is the early reports from police are they don’t believe this was a terrorism related incident, it appears more to have been a mental health related issue.  Hopefully we will get to the bottom of it very quickly and we will be able to provide more information to the travelling public. But I want to assure people that we do have world class security arrangements at our airports here in Australia. If you are travelling for business or travelling for pleasure, you can be reassured that we take these issues very seriously. Nonetheless it would have been very worrying for the people on-board.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Absolutely and that they had to intervene to stop the individual. The question that is being asked of the police this morning – I’m not sure if you’ve got any advice on this – why did it take more than an hour for them to board the plane, once it was back on the tarmac?

DARREN CHESTER:

Well these are all, quite properly, questions that will be asked as we review the incident and the ongoing security arrangements for Tullamarine and other airports. My understanding is that this person tried to gain access to the cockpit, he was subdued by passengers and possibly crew, I haven’t received full details on that. The plane returned to Melbourne and was on the tarmac and then the police, law enforcement agencies did their role. Now, I am not sure on the exact timings of all this. I do know from previous incidents that the early reports aren’t always the most accurate reports. So it is best to wait and just let the dust settle and find exactly what had transpired on the aircraft and whether our response was appropriate to the circumstances.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Just finally, obviously reviews are undertaken after any incident like this of the way that the security response has been carried out. Will one of the things you look at, be the laptop question? Because we have seen a number of nations – the UK, Great Britain – banning laptops from certain airports.  Of course it was the subject of that infamous sharing of intelligence by President Trump to the Russians in the White House. What is our view when it comes to the use of laptops on international flights.

DARREN CHESTER:

Well, we are constantly assessing our security protocols. We have good working relationships with our international counterparts and we exchange information, intelligence, on emerging threats and risks to the travelling public.

KIERAN GILBERT:

So that’s possible, a move in that regard?

DARREN CHESTER:

Well, our assessment of the situation in Australia right now is that the current security settings are appropriate. We did introduce additional security measures to some Middle East ports in response to that original announcement by the US, where explosive trace detecting was in place in three ports. So we will continue to assess the security environment but as it sits right now, we believe the protocols we have in place are appropriate for the risk involved.

KIERAN GILBERT:

Minister, appreciate your time, thanks.

DARREN CHESTER:

All the best.

 

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