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Santa set to be the only traveller not waiting in airport queues this Christmas

By Michael Keenan - posted Monday, 24 December 2012


Like many Australians over the Christmas and New Year period you may be heading overseas for a well-deserved holiday, only to spend hours waiting at the airport. For this you can thank the mismanagement of the Australia Labor Party who have made our airports some of the most frustrating in the world.

At a time when the tourism sector is suffering, when our airports are being hard hit with new taxes, and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service are being slugged with staff and budgetary cuts, Federal Labor decided to put even more pressure on passenger processing at our international airports.

Last year Labor hit Customs with a $34 million cut to the passenger facilitation program and this year they have axed a further $10.4 million from the program, at a time when passenger numbers are expected to increase from roughly 32 million to 38 million in just four years.

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The $34 million hit Customs took has already had the effect of a reduction of 70 staff across primary Customs lines at Australia's eight international airports in the past financial year. This further funding cut will only serve to make waiting times worse. Airports are already short-staffed and need more, not less, Customs officers.

In line with these budget cuts, the regulated passenger processing targets were adjusted downwards.

Since coming to government Labor have cut 750 staff from Customs, an agency that has been pushed to breaking point by a Government that has failed Australia in so many ways - particularly with national and border security.

Customs are running their operations on the scent of an oily rag but it is not sustainable to operate this way and the effects can be seen in the long queues and waits at the airport.

When travelling abroad the tone of the trip can be set by the travellers' first experience at the airport. It is not uncommon to hear returning traveller tales of horrendous waiting times, onerous security checks or sagas involving lost baggage and unusually long waits on planes waiting to land or disembark.

When you find yourself forced to wait on a plane on the tarmac because Customs cannot physically process passengers fast enough over the festive season, you can thank Prime Minister Gillard for robbing Peter to pay Paul.

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About the Author

Michael Keenan is the member for Stirling and the Shadow Minister for Justice, Customs and Border Protection.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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