Customs officers in airports across Australia will be armed from July next year.
Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton told 3AW Mornings it was in response to the heightened threat of a terror attack on Australian soil.[highlight]The very important and realistic point to make is that at airports our customs officers are now are interviewing people who are planning to go overseas to fight with Islamic State[/highlight]
Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton
“They are facing an increased threat at airports as well,” he said.
“On the waters, our customs officers are armed when they are boarding craft that may be carrying illegal narcotics for arguments sake.
“The very important and realistic point to make is that at airports our customs officers are now are interviewing people who are planning to go overseas to fight with Islamic State.”
Mr Dutton said airports were a target, but the government was “deadly serious” about dealing with any threat.
“It provides another layer of response, another level of reassuredness to the public,” he said.
“We need to keep our customs officers safe – not ony protect themselves but also the public.”
Mr Dutton said he was advised by security agencies that the “threat is increasing” and whle it could be intimidating to see armed officers at airports, it was a necessary step.
“It is something we need to face up to,” he said.
“If they need to respond, they can respond adequately.”