Australian police will be able to conduct random identity checks at airports under sweeping new security laws, the government said Tuesday, amid heightened terror fears following an alleged plot to bring down a plane.
There has been growing concern over attacks by radicals inspired by Islamic State and other groups, with a foiled effort last year in Sydney to target an Etihad flight with a crude bomb.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the new powers — which mean officers at airports would no longer need a reason to ask for ID — were necessary in “dangerous times”.
“There is no law that requires you (to carry ID) but it’s hard to think of anyone that wouldn’t have some ID and wouldn’t be able to say a bit about themselves,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
He said recent suicide bombings in Indonesia’s second city Surabaya were a reminder that authorities “need to be ever vigilant” in Australia and elsewhere.
Passenger and baggage scanners at domestic and regional airports will also be upgraded to match those already in place at international terminals, in measures costing nearly Aus$300 million ($226 million).
Screening will be strengthened for inbound air cargo and international mail, with some 190 Australian Federal Police officers either deployed at airports or providing tactical and intelligence support.
Authorities say they have prevented 14 attacks in recent years. Several other terror attacks have occurred, including the 2014 siege of a central Sydney cafe in which two hostages were killed.