Media statement: Criminal exploitation of airports and seaports

Project Brunello is not an Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) operation, and as a matter of principle the Australian Government does not comment on media speculation regarding intelligence reports.

The ACIC works closely with Qantas, other airlines, and logistics companies.

Airports and seaports are commonly used as entrance points or ‘doors’ to Australia for illicit goods, and for transporting such goods around Australia.

The Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) and Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC) schemes have been very effective in protecting Australian airports and seaports from terrorism, however, they are vulnerable to exploitation by serious crime groups.

ASIC and MSIC holders can abuse their privileged position for criminal purposes, which can greatly damage the security and integrity of our borders.

At present, the background check for an ASIC and MSIC only examines whether a person may be a threat to aviation or maritime security. It does not consider whether a person may use their access to airports and seaports in connection with serious crime.

The ACIC has extensive criminal intelligence holdings which could be drawn upon to determine whether an individual ASIC/MSIC holder or applicant may pose a serious and organised crime risk.

Removing vulnerabilities in the ASIC and MSIC schemes is one key measure to strengthen aviation and maritime security. The ACIC strongly supports the Transport Security Amendment (Serious Crime) Bill 2020 and notes Qantas has also publicly expressed support for these legislative amendments.

Michael Phelan
CEO Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission