View Full Version : No ticket, no passport - no problem

19th Jan 2004, 09:53
Mon "Sydney Morning Herald"

No ticket, no passport - no problem
By Mark Riley, Political Correspondent
January 19, 2004

Red faces . . . security staff at Sydney Airport.

The Federal Government has been embarrassed after a man slipped past Customs and security screening at Sydney Airport without a ticket or passport and tried to board a flight to the US.

It is believed the man was stopped by Qantas staff on New Year's Eve when he tried to get on a plane for Los Angeles.

He was arrested by Australian Protective Services officers and later interviewed by Australian Federal Police.

The security breach has sparked inquiries as Customs, police and security staff try to work out how the man walked through the airport's tight security net.

Government officials have indicated the man was psychologically disturbed and say he was not carrying anything to suggest he was a direct security threat.

However, the incident has shaken the Government as it prepares for a federal election campaign focusing on its border protection record.

A spokesman for the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, confirmed the breach yesterday.

"It happened," he said. "It shouldn't have happened and Customs have made changes to their systems to prevent it happening again. He did get through the primary line at the airport and then was detained."

A Federal Police spokeswoman said the man was detained after finding his way into a restricted area without the necessary travel documents. There was no comment on whether the man had a criminal record.

Mr Ruddock's spokesman said the man had not been charged, adding: "He remains under the care of state medical services."

The Opposition transport spokesman, Martin Ferguson, attacked the Government's border protection record, calling the security breach "inconceivable".

"On top of the theft of sensitive Customs material from Sydney Airport last year, it is beginning to sound as if Dad's Army is running border protection in Australia," Mr Ferguson said.

Security at Sydney Airport has been tightened since the attacks in the US of September 11, 2001. More than $100 million is expected to be spent in the next year improving facilities to comply with new regulations requiring the screening of all checked luggage on international flights.