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Transport Security

Transport Security Threats

Transport systems continue to be attractive targets for terrorists seeking to inflict mass casualties, economic damage, instil fear and create spectacular media imagery. Transport systems are inherently vulnerable to terrorist attack, as they are open systems that gather large numbers of people at predictable times in predictable places.

Transport security encompasses aviation, air cargo supply chain, maritime (including offshore oil and gas) and mass passenger transport systems such as road, rail, trams and ferries. Transport security is a common usage term which belies the complexity of roles, responsibilities and relationships in the aviation, air cargo supply chain, maritime and mass transit sectors. Industry is at the core of these sectors. Clustering around industry, in a multi agency and multi jurisdictional domain, are border security, regulatory, law enforcement and intelligence agencies from the Commonwealth and States and Territories.

The Australian Government's Role in Transport Security

The Australian Government regulates preventive security planning in the aviation, maritime, air cargo supply chain and offshore oil and gas transport sectors. In addition, the Government ensures that aviation and maritime transport security activities are carried out in accordance with Australia’s international obligations.

While surface transport security arrangements are under State and Territory jurisdiction, OTS works with all jurisdictions to coordinate the dissemination of ‘best practice’ information on security measures in relation to surface transport security.

Implementation of preventive security measures is the responsibility of owners and operators of transport systems.

The Department's Role in Transport Security

The Office of Transport Security (OTS) within the Department is the Australian Government’s preventive security regulator for the aviation and maritime sectors, and its primary adviser on transport security. OTS contributes to the wellbeing of all Australians by helping to develop transport systems that are more secure against the threat of terrorism and unlawful acts.

OTS works with the states and territories; other government agencies; international governments and bodies; and the aviation and maritime industry to improve security and prevent transport security incidents, through:

  • transport security intelligence;
  • transport operations;
  • transport security policy, planning and regulation;
  • audit, compliance and security measures;
  • ensuring a nationally consistent approach; and
  • complying with international standards.

OTS is responsible for administering an intelligence-led, risk-based preventive security regime for these sectors. OTS works with the aviation and maritime industry to achieve sustainable and proportional preventive security measures that are commensurate with the nature and level of the terrorist threat.

OTS has a national presence, with offices located in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne (also servicing Tasmania), Adelaide, Perth and Darwin. There are also OTS personnel posted overseas in the Philippines, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the United States of America.

More detailed information on transport security requirements and policies can be found in the related links listed in the right hand corner of this page.

Air travellers or travel agents seeking advice on transport security requirements should visit the TravelSecure website.

  • Guidelines for funding applications relating to the Strengthening Aviation Security Initiative announced by the Australian Government.

  • The examination of a range of factors affecting aviation security screening.

  • The Aviation Security Branch provides policy advice to the Australian Government on aviation security, set standards for aviation security measures, and tests, monitors and evaluates compliance with those standards, policies and procedures consistent with the Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and the Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005.

  • Information on the Regulated Agent scheme including requirements for air handlers and Regulated Air Cargo Agents.

  • As part of Australia's international treaty obligations the Department's Office of Transport Security Maritime Branch is responsible for the implementation of special measures to enhance maritime security in particular for requirements within Chapter XI-2 of the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974, and the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS Code) which came into effect on 1 July 2004.

  • In 2003 the Maritime Transport Security Act 2003 (MTSA) was introduced to help safeguard Australia's domestic and international sea trade, our maritime assets, and our citizens. Under this Act the Australian Government regulates the security arrangements of Australian ports, port facilities, and ships. It was amended in 2005 and renamed the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 to establish the legislative basis for approving security plans for offshore oil and gas facilities.

  • Unlike the aviation and maritime industries, where security regulation is the primary responsibility of the Australian Government, surface transport security, including rail, light rail, buses, and passenger ferries, is the responsibility of the state or territory in which the service is located.

  • The role of the Office of the Inspector of Transport Security is to inquire into, when directed by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, a major transport or offshore security incident or a pattern or series of incidents that point to a systemic failure or possible weakness of aviation or maritime transport security regulatory systems in order to strengthen transport security.

  • Click here for information on the Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) for Critical Infrastructure Resilience.

  • Transport Security related Acts and Regulations.

  • A list of Transport Security related links.

  • Details on how to contact the Office of Transport Security.

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Last Updated: 4 February, 2014