ATA calls for single transport security card

Peak body seeks end to duplication and waste in submission on chemical explosive precursors

April 13, 2012

A single transport security card should replace the two in use and various licences, according to the Australian Trucking Association (ATA).

The Association makes the call as part of its recommendations to the Federal Attorney-General’s Department, which is looking at the security of 11 chemicals, including hydrogen peroxide and sodium azide, that have innocent common uses but that can be used to make home-made explosives.

The ATA argues that there are already significant controls on the industry in moving the precursor chemicals in bulk, while the more likely danger comes from smaller amounts.

"Therefore, the transport of these chemicals in small amounts, such as that undertaken by couriers or taxi trucks, is more of a concern than that transported by heavy vehicles in tankers," the submission says.

"The trucking industry already has many strong procedures and protocols in place to ensure exposure of these chemicals to illegitimate use is minimised.

"Thorough employee checks and training of staff, along with ongoing awareness of potential theft opportunities and accounting for stock, ensure bulk chemicals are managed in a safe and secure manner."

The ATA favours a solution involving industry and government approaches in a "once-check" process, "with one identification card that covers ports, airports and state-level transport security requirements".

This would do away the need for maritime security identification cards (MSICs), aviation security identification cards (ASICs), and unsupervised handling licences, while avoiding duplication.

ATA National Policy Manager David Coonan says the Australian and state governments did not recognise each other’s security checks, although ASIC holders did not need to be cleared again to apply for an MSIC.

"There should be a single card with a single security check, which would streamline the process, ensure that security standards are uniform and reduce costs for the industry," Coonan says.

"We have also recommended the security checks should focus on potential terrorist or criminal activity that is actually of concern, rather than irrelevant criminal offences in an applicant’s past.

"At present, the rules for MSICs and ASICs make it very difficult for people with a criminal history to deliver freight to a port or airport, even when they have done their time and changed their life. To get a card, they have to succeed in appealing to the federal infrastructure department, and then make a fresh appeal every time their card expires."

He adds that the solution is "not to stop using these chemicals, but rather to ensure there are systems in place that mean all sections of the supply chain are able to secure them".

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