A security worker at Melbourne Airport lost her job after conducting a security screening on Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. She was later reinstated after a reprimand and further training.
The incident occurred as Ms Bishop was heading to New York for the United Nations Leaders Summit on 22 September.
According to a statement from Melbourne Airport, the ISS worker was fired for “not adhering to standard security screening procedures”, after it was revealed that the random screening was not so random. The security check was believed to have been ‘prompted’ by a fellow worker, who recognised the Deputy Leader.
The security worker was suspended from work and has since been reinstated after she underwent additional “process and customer service training”. Another two workers were also suspended as a result of the incident.
And whilst a spokesman for Ms Bishop said she made no “official complaint”, however, the Herald Sun reported that Deputy PM Warren Truss’s office put in the complaint to the airport questioning the indignity Ms Bishop had to endure.
“The Foreign Minister passes through hundreds of airport security checkpoints each year and is more than happy to be treated on the same basis as other travellers,” said a spokesperson for Ms Bishop. “Neither the Minister nor anyone from her office has made any official complaint regarding her transit through Melbourne Airport at any time.”
According to a union source, the woman acknowledged her error in singling out Ms Bishop for scanning.
James Campbell, the Herald Sun’s State Political Editor, had an interesting take on the situation.
So as I understand it from this incident the situation at our airports is now this: if you are an anonymous nobody you can be pulled aside and screened at the whim a security guard and if you don’t like it, well, tough luck.
If, however, you are a politician famous enough to be recognised by the person with the metal detector you are to be waved through.
The real argument for why Bishop should have been subjected to security screening is, of course, because everyone else is — grandmothers in their orthopaedic shoes, parents carrying children, anyone who catches the authorities’ eye no matter how implausible a Jihadi they might look.
What do you think of this situation? Is Ms Bishop right to be ‘put out’ by this security screening? Was it fair that she was pulled aside for screening, or does her position exempt her from such treatment?