Bomb-detection dogs and anti-terror officers armed with MK18 assault rifles will patrol Australian airports this Christmas.
Canberra and Brisbane airports will be the first to be patrolled with all up 135 anti-terror police added to another seven “designated” airports around the country over the next 18 months.
The Australian Federal Police said they will become a “common sight” at all nine airports (the other seven are yet to be named).
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said recent global events served as a reminder the threat of terror had not diminished.
“We know that Australia is at risk,” he said.
“In July 2017, a major terrorist plot was disrupted targeting a passenger flight departing from Sydney.
“Just this week, our law enforcement agencies have arrested a 21 year old who is alleged to have been involved in advocating and preparing for terrorist acts.”
The extra officers will be armed with MK18 short-barrelled rifles and trained to assess hostile threats and behaviour.
They will be accompanied by bomb-detection dogs.
Australia’s new top law enforcer, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the roll-out was to “ensure the rollout is designed to ensure Australia aligns with world-best-practice for counter terrorism first response activity”, not that there was any elevated threat level in our airports.
“It is vital we are equipped to respond immediately with the appropriate resources to any situation in the airport environment,” Commissioner Kershaw said, adding they will be a “common sight” at Australian airports in the future.
“Members of the public should be aware while there will be no changes to the way they move through Australian airports, they will start seeing Protection Operation Response Team (PORT) officers patrolling alongside general duties members, specialised firearm and explosive detection canines and Rapid Appraisal Officers, who are responsible for rapid, targeted assessment of potential explosive threats.”
The AFP said the PORT members will be equipped with the Daniel Defense Mk 18 SBRs as well as body worn cameras.
“These highly trained officers run towards dangerous incidents, not away from them,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.
“It is vital they have every resource necessary to help them do their job and protect the community.”
Australia’s terror threat remains at “probable”.