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Qantas: Call for security enquiry after TV & newspapers report of organised crime infiltration of Qantas

Qantas: Call for security enquiry after TV & newspapers report of organised crime infiltration of Qantas

The SMH is now reporting that some of the security issues being reported on including flaws in background checks, were also highlighted as vulnerabilities 10 years ago in a classified report, but have still not been addressed.

The opposition is naturally calling for an enquiry.

Background

The Nine Newspapers this morning, and Sixty Minutes last night revealed accusations that Qantas has been infiltrated by organised crime for the purposes of drug importing and other activities.

The accusations arise in leaked information from ‘Project Brunello’, which alleges up to 150 Qantas staff could be linked to criminal activity. And we are not just talking dodgy baggage handlers. The coverage even details a motorcycle gang associated member of Qantas middle management who has then gone on to recruit other criminals into the organisation.

If these allegations are true, then they reflect badly on Australia’s border security proceedures and federal policing organisations like Border Force, and on Qantas security.

What NINE Media is reporting

To quote from the SMH article:

Qantas Group chief security officer Luke Bramah told The AgeThe Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes that “given we follow all of the government’s vetting procedures, we find these claims disturbing. We have not been advised of any current investigations of Qantas Group employees involved in organised crime. If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action.”

SMH.com.au

It looks like some toughening up of employee security screening is required, especially in the air freight, ground crew and baggage handling divisions. Unfortunately, that is not all:

‘Almost 60 Qantas staff were linked to “serious drug offences” or “organised crime groups”. Twenty-three Qantas employees have “used employment in the aviation environment to facilitate various criminal activities”. Seven Qantas staff have been linked to child exploitation, including an employee charged last year with possessing and manufacturing child pornography outside of Australia, with the report warning of a possible small network of sex offenders at Brisbane international airport.’

This represents a serious threat to our faith in the security of our borders and the reputation of Qantas and its associated staff and contractors.

Although there are no international passenger services being run by Qantas at the moment, other than repatriation flights for stranded Australians, the airline is still running substantial international freight services, which may be the chink in the armour.

Qantas Responds

Qantas has provided an answer to the accusations which reads in part:

“Given we follow all of the Government’s vetting procedures, we find these claims disturbing.

“We have not been advised of any current investigations of Qantas Group employees involved in organised crime. If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action.

“To be clear, none of Australia’s law enforcement agencies have told us of the existence of a report that suggests there are potentially 150 Qantas employees who have connections to organised crime. Nor have they raised concerns with us about our vetting or background checking processes.

“We’ve written to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AFP, Border Force and Aviation and Maritime Security seeking details of the report.”

You can read the full statement here.

2PAXfly Takeout

“In addition to the criminal checks that happen every two years, we’d like to see real-time background checks which means airlines and airports know immediately if an employee has been convicted of an offence, because it’s another safeguard. We have had positive conversations with the Government about this over a number of years.”

I encourage you to read the coverage in the NINE papers, to watch the 60 minutes story, and to read the Qantas response. We will update or write an additional post if more is revealed.

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