Regional airport security upgraded

TERRORISTS are just as likely to target Lismore Airport as any other, a forum heard yesterday.

The training session was part of a rolling program to bring regional airports up to speed in terror prevention techniques, and featured police, local emergency services and ambulance personnel and firefighters, as well as members of a specialist Sydney-based team.

A member of the Australian Federal Police based on the Gold Coast said nowhere, including quiet country airports, was safe from possible terrorist activity, adding that complacency was the enemy in smaller centres such as Lismore.

He was one of several AFP Aviation Intelligence team members to attend, along with officers from the police Terrorism Intelligence Unit and ASIO.

Richmond Local Area Command Inspector Gary Cowan said the session had been really useful.

He said it was ‘basically an exercise in counter-terrorism’.

Insp Cowan said the focus had been to understand the role played by each of the various agencies that would need to be involved.

One scenario had been what would happen if a person ran into the airport with a bag with wires hanging out of it, he said.

“We looked at the possibilities and what each service would be required to do,” Insp Cowan said.

“It was really good to learn how each of the other agencies would act if something should happen.”

Counter Terrorism and Special Tactics response group off-icers organised the event, one of 24 planned for regional airports across Australia.

Counter Terrorism Capability Support Unit Commander, Ins-pector Brenton Charlton, said the program had evolved from training at regional airports last year.

“We have built on the success of the Securing Our Regional Skies program from last year and enhanced the training this year with a more hands-on app-roach in the form of scenario and role play-based tabletopexercises,” he said.

The training team will visit Ballina today, Coffs Harbour tomorrow and Port Macquarie on Friday.

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