Launceston Airport funding concerns

BODY SCANNING: Body scanning technology will be installed at "almost all" domestic airports in Australia. Picture: Paul Scambler
BODY SCANNING: Body scanning technology will be installed at "almost all" domestic airports in Australia. Picture: Paul Scambler

Doubts about the viability of the federal government’s regional aviation security increases have been raised by the Launceston Airport. 

The federal government announced it would provide $50 million of funding to 64 regional airports to upgrade their security processes in the 2018-19 budget.

This will include upgraded X-ray screening technology and body screening systems in “almost all security screened airports”, according to a Home Affairs Department spokeswoman. 

However, Launceston Airport general manager Paul Hodgen said he was unsure if the proposed $50 million would cover the costs of upgrades at all 64 airports. 

One starts to wonder about how far that $50 million will spread.

Launceston Airport general manager Paul Hodgen

The Home Affairs Department refused to comment on Mr Hodgen’s concerns.

“Some of the smaller airports have no security at all, so they’re going to need funding for scanning technology and for infrastructure to set that up,” Mr Hodgen said.

“The body scanners cost about $600,000 and the CT scanners in the order of $1 million.

“One starts to wonder about how far that $50 million will spread.”

Mr Hodgen also raised concerns about future delivery of the technology, saying it would take at least a couple of years to implement. 

“Airports all over the world are looking for this technology,” he said.

“Launceston Airport might be ordering two scanners and Doha might be ordering 200.

“The big boys with their bigger orders may very well get a slice of the pie faster than us.”

Labor MHR Ross Hart said the party would not commit to providing more funding to the scheme in opposition, but would investigate if there were any shortfalls in the government’s proposed funding model.

“If there are shortfalls with the funding provided we’re open to having a robust conversation with the government about it,” he said.

“We will scrutinise it and make sure the burden is off the airports.”

Mr Hodgen said community concerns about privacy issues regarding body scanning technology were unfounded.

“You can’t see body profile or what people are wearing under your clothes – It’s just an outline of a generic body with a heat map,” he said.

Body scanning technology also provides no health risks to passengers, according to a Home Affairs Department spokeswoman.