Australia unveils US$154 m-airport security programme

CANBERRA - Prime Minister John Howard has announced a A$200 million- (US$154 million) security upgrade programme for Australia's airports. Howard said police commanders would be appointed to Australia's 11 major airports. To fight organised crime, five new joint airport investigation teams would be created at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth at a cost of A$40 million. Tarmac areas at seven airports would be subject to customs patrols, an initiative that would cost A$48 million. Funding would also be allocated for the exchange of information on crime, explosives detection and improvements to closed-circuit television facilities. The PM said the changes - in response to a report on Australian airport security by British aviation security expert John Wheeler - would need the co-operation of state governments. He said such an upgrading programme was no justification for airlines to lift fares.

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