SECURITY has been beefed up at all major airports across Australia – including on Queensland’s Gold Coast – after counter-terror police foiled an alleged plot to blow up a domestic passenger plane.
Four men were arrested in a major counter-terrorism operation in Sydney on Saturday night.
Heavily armed police simultaneously raided five properties; one in Lakemba, Surry Hills and Wiley Park and two in Punchbowl as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged terror plot to bring down a plane.
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As a result, enhanced security measures have been put in place at every major airport across the country; in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin, Perth, Adelaide, Canberra, Cairns, Hobart, and on the Gold Coast.
The stronger security measures mean passengers will now have to arrive at the airport two hours before their flight’s departure time to allow time for additional, more thorough checks of carry-on and checked baggage.
Travellers are also now required to limit their carry-on and checked baggage to help ensure that the new enhanced security screening process is efficient.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said it was the Government’s priority to provide the Australian public with safe and secure air travel.
“Some of these measures will be obvious to the travelling public, others will not,” Mr Chester said.
“These additional measures complement the security arrangements already in place and are being applied as an extra precaution, in coordination with counter terrorism raids in Sydney last night.”
“While it is important the public is aware of the increased threat, Australians should not be alarmed and those travelling should go about their business with confidence.”
All Australian airports have been asked to exercise increased vigilance in their security operations, including at security screening points and within the terminal area.
“Australia’s law enforcement and security agencies are among the best in the world and doing everything within their powers to keep the community safe,” Mr Chester said.
“The Government has a world class, comprehensive security system in place to keep travellers secure.
“As a matter of course, the Australian Government will continue to monitor security developments and adjust security settings as needed.”
Mr Chester said the Government also worked closely with airport operators to ensure that physical security measures were in place to protect publicly accessible areas of airport terminals.
The Australian Government already requires a range of security measures to keep Australians safe while travelling, including introducing hardened cockpit doors to prevent unauthorised access to the cockpit.
Cabin crew members are also trained for handling suspicious passenger behaviour and responding to security threats, incidents, and breaches, and plain-clothed security officers are often seated on each flight.
The four men arrested during Saturday night’s counter-terror operation are being held at the Sydney Police Centre in Surry Hills. They can be held for up to a week without being charged.
Police have carried out 31 counter-terrorism operations in Australia and charged 70 people since the terror threat level was raised to ‘probable’ in 2014.
It remains at probable after Saturday’s operation.
Anyone who sees or hears something suspicious is urged to call the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.