Tough New Laws & Penalties Against Aviation Crimes Now in Force

Canberra, Australia ( March 29, 2011

Tough New Laws & Penalties Against Aviation Crimes Now in Force

Tough New Laws & Penalties Against Aviation Crimes Now in Force

Minister for Home Affairs and Justice Brendan O’Connor today welcomed tougher laws against aviation crimes such as bomb hoaxes and endangering an aircraft in flight.

“New crimes and tougher penalties come into force today against those who seek to attack or threaten our airlines, airports and aeroplanes,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The safety of Australians is our highest priority. Threats against our aviation sector put lives at risk, cause distress to passengers and staff and create unnecessary costs for the industry.”

“This is the latest step in our work to create safer skies for the travelling public and those who work in the aviation industry – in the air and on the ground,” Mr O’Connor said.

There are now three new offences in the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991:

• Assault of an aircraft crew member – a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment

• Reckless endangerment of an aircraft where danger of serious harm or death can be shown – a maximum penalty of 14 years

• Having or placing dangerous goods onboard an aircraft, where there is risk of serious harm or death – a maximum penalty of 14 years.

Penalties for existing offences have also been boosted, providing greater consistency with other criminal legislation:

• 10 years jail for hoax and threat offences, such as calling an airline and saying a bomb is on a plane, or threatening to bomb or blow up an airport.  This offence previously carried a two year maximum jail term.

• 14 years jail for offences against aircraft or aviation environments, such as damaging or destroying the facilities of a major airport. These offences previously carried maximum jail terms of seven or ten years.

• 20 years jail for very serious offences that pose danger or cause serious harm to groups of people, such as assaulting a pilot or endangering an aircraft while in flight.  These offences previously carried maximum jail terms of seven, 14 or 15 years.

• Life in jail will continue to apply to offences such as hijacking or destroying an aircraft and being reckless as to causing death.

“Threats and hoaxes can compromise public safety – for example, where a flight has to be diverted at short notice or where an airport needs to be evacuated suddenly,” he said.

“I’m confident that this new suite of offences and penalties will help those employed in aviation to work in greater safety and security,” Mr O’Connor said.

The new laws complement a $200 million package of aviation security initiatives announced last year, including extra firearms and explosive detection dog teams, new passenger screening technologies, cargo x-ray screening and boosting security on international flights.

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