Pirate Party slams full body scanner plan

news Pirate Party Australia has condemned the Labor Government’s plan to install compulsory full body scanners at Australia’s international airports in an attempt to strengthen anti-terrorism measures. The Party claims that these systems have repeatedly proven ineffective and that the privacy and economic costs far outweigh any supposed security benefits.

A statement issued by the party this week accuses the Government of propagating the myth that privacy invasion is essential for security. In light of the fact that existing laws and law enforcement authorities have successfully prevented the handful of planned terrorist attacks in Australia, the party questions whether new legislation is actually in the national interest.

The scanners are designed to locate metal and non-metal articles under clothing. This week, the Government plans to introduce legislation in Federal Parliament allowing for the scanners, following trials of the technology on 23,000 volunteers in Sydney and Melbourne. If introduced, the legislation will require passengers departing Australia to mandatorily pass through a full body scanner. With the exception of those with serious medical conditions, any passenger who refuses full body screening might be prevented from boarding their flight.

Branding the proposal ‘lunacy’, Brendan Molloy, secretary of Pirate Party Australia stated that he could not see the logic in installing full body scanners when the current ‘overzealous anti-terrorism laws’ seem to have checked terrorist attacks. “Why would the scheme be only international and not domestic? What security benefits are gained by banning those who would prefer a patdown from flying?” Molloy asked.

Refuting public concerns about modesty, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese was reported by The Age to have stated that the scanners produce only a generic outline and do not define any features. He assured that the images would also be unable to be copied or stored.

Speaking with Sky News, Albanese said that the scanners only identify areas on the body that need to be checked. The Government plans to roll out the new technology across airports from July 2012. The attempted Christmas Day 2009 attack on a US-bound flight by Nigerian underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had prompted the government to announce plans in 2010 to beef up anti-terrorism measures at airports.

The Pirate Party also expressed concern over the continuing trend of opaque decision making by the Labor Government. The statement points out that the public has once again not been consulted by this Government about its intention to employ legislation that constitutes an attack on citizens’ civil liberties. “We have repeatedly seen plans and schemes negotiated in secrecy – ACTA, as a recent example – that threaten our rights, and have had no chance to raise our concerns until it is too late,” Molloy said. “Why would Australia adopt such a scheme given that cities such as Hamburg have rejected the system as unworkable? They are playing on fears to take away our civil liberties.”

Demanding answers to their questions, the Party has stated that the Labor Government cannot put in place such ‘draconian’ laws with public support. Labelling the proposal an ‘act of security theatre’, the statement calls attention to other successful strategies used in areas of serious instability.

“For example: Ben Gurion Airport in Israel has not had a terrorist attack since 1972, and they do not employ body scanners. Instead, they question all travellers about the purpose of their trip, and have a strong uniformed and plain-clothed security presence. The Government need to realise that throwing money and resources at an issue is not always the best approach,” concluded Simon Frew, deputy president.


  1. I agree these body scanners are a dumb idea. They haven’t stopped anyone, and in fact – about a month ago a man was able to get through them armed with a gun. We don’t need this, the public hasn’t ASKED for it, so why are they implementing these stupid programs? It’s about control really. Slowly eroding our rights as citizens to choose what we want. I read the article and it said they would “randomly” choose people to undergo radiation. So — oh goody, goody….how are they going to choose who gets the unwanted doses of radiation? This fails on so many levels, the biggest being that it presumes you guilty before proving that you are innocent. This reeks of police state mentality, and the people need to step up and just say “NO.”

  2. I live in New Zealand and I will certainly stop visiting Australia if these are compulsary.

  3. I’ve cut down flying to an absolute minimum. I have 2 disabled parents in there 80’s both have had some bone replacement surgery. Trying to get them through check in is just about impossible now. Unfortunately they have to fly to a capital city to get the treatment they need. God knows what it’s going to be like with this.

  4. Privacy is the main concern. There are already images on the web taken from body scanners in the US and other countries. If the US cannot stop these images from being posted what chance has the Aus government got to guarentee our privacy ?

    • Actually, the health aspect is my main concern. I don’t trust the american company that has lobbied the US government to sell these machines, while assuring us all that it is safe. I am yet to find an independent analysis of these machines, published in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

      And what if a machine malfunctions, applying a higher dosage – and goes undetected for months? This sort of technology should be used sparingly, and only for a medical benefit (not security theatre).

      It is curious that the australian government plan to close the patdown ‘loophole’. Especially when said patdown would be more thorough than the scanner, and more of an immediate detriment to the traveller.

  5. I have been asking for years now this simple question. Will these scanners have any effect on my pacemaker, usually, I get no answer at all but no one has ever given me the evidence to convince me that they are safe.

  6. More security theatre forced down our throat by the corporatocracy that is the US.

    Australian government just can’t help but toe the American line. This is no different to the farcical ban on liquids and the stupid rules that sprang up around that.

    These scanners will do nothing other than increase the chances of getting cancer for their operators and frequent flyers.

    • Here’s the thing – there is no evidence that they’re safe for use on even normal (if you’ll pardon the expression) humans. They use terahertz radiation, which is an untested technology. The maximum safe dosage for this kind of radiation has never been established experimentally – the numbers are purely theoretical. There’s also some concern that this form of radiation may be able to unzip DNA and cause mutations, which would considerably lower the amount which would be safe, especially as its absorbed by the skin.

      What I’d like to know is how the machine will lack the visual detail needed to identify gender, but will be able to identify equivalently sized weapons. The two seem mutually exclusive.

  7. Sounds all to familiar doesnt it? Exactly what the paranoid American government told their own people is what our government is trying to regurgitate to us. I am really getting sick of what these fear based lying governments are trying to palm off as truth these days. Arthur Chresby has told us how to vote in his book “Your will be done” havent read it? Google it, it is there on PDF format i promise it will blow your mind. Arthur was a Research Analyst in Constitutional Law, and formerly Federal Member for. Griffith.

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