...As Security Changes Down Under...

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There's no point in letting security get in the way of passenger convenience and scheduling, at least in the eyes of Australian lawmakers. While scheduled passengers from Boise to Biloxi are shedding their shoes and (our favorite) opening their belt buckles, the Aussies have directed security staff at 146 "regional" airports not to use their newly issued handheld metal detectors unless ordered to do so by Canberra. Major airports will continue screening all passengers. But it seems the government is willing to rely on intelligence reports (gasp) to let them know when to dust off the metal detectors at the smaller fields. "You assume that your intelligence sources are likely to pick up any increased activity or indications of a rise in the danger levels and we'd respond to that," said Transport Minister John Anderson. As part of a new security package, staff at the regional airports were supplied with and trained in the use of handheld metal detectors but told not to use them unless advised of a threat. Anderson said checking all passengers all the time in the hinterlands would "slow things very considerably and unnecessarily." Other measures include the establishment of four SWAT-like response teams scattered around the big country, the requirement for hardened cockpit doors on planes capable of carrying more than 30 passengers and a two-year trial of security cameras at smaller airports. The opposition party has slammed the new measures as a "flawed, Band-Aid approach to regional aviation security."