EDITORIAL, Mercury July 31, 2017 12:00am
THE Federal Government must listen and the Australian Federal Police must be returned to Hobart International Airport.
This is a call echoed by all sides of politics, and it has the support of Tasmania Police.
The AFP was controversially withdrawn from the airport in 2014 due to a $22 million Commonwealth budget cut.
MORE: PRESSURE FOR AFP TO RETURN
Police Commissioner Darren Hine objected to the move at the time but, nevertheless, Tasmania Police was forced to fill the void.
And it has done so professionally and without fuss.
But the occurrences of the past few days have brought home the seriousness of this issue and understandably sparked calls for urgent intervention from the Commonwealth.
Federal Police swooped on five properties in the Sydney suburbs of Surry Hills, Lakemba, Wiley Park and Punchbowl and arrested four men over an alleged terrorist plot to bring down an aircraft using an improvised device.
Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said terrorists were becoming “ingenious” about coming up with ways to bypass security.
It has understandably sent shockwaves throughout the nation and the concern is being felt in our capital city and beyond.
To call for the AFP to return to Hobart is not to scaremonger.
It is not to alarm, nor make people feel unsafe. It is not to be overly dramatic, nor churlish.
It is a sober, rational and measured response to an increasingly dangerous environment, one with which all countries must face and come to terms with.
Tasmania is increasingly becoming a destination of choice for interstate and overseas visitors.
It is not a regional backwater.
It is a thriving and energetic capital city and one of Australia’s leading tourism destinations.
With that comes all the economic benefits, but also the associated risks.
The State Government and Labor are making the right noises.
Premier Will Hodgman is understood to have discussed the issue with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Police Minister Rene Hidding said simply: “Our position is that the AFP shouldn’t have gone, they should be there now.”
Denison MHR Andrew Wilkie has described the Federal Government’s ongoing refusal to reinstate the AFP as “pigheadedness”.
Tasmanian Labor Senator and party heavyweight Carol Brown said the position simply “beggars belief”.
This is not an argument driven by politics, as all sides of politics agree on the issue. It is not driven by hidden agendas. It is not driven by selfishness nor short-sightedness.
It is driven simply by a determination to make the right decision now, to ensure our state is protected and to never think we will one day look back and ask: “What if we had’ve acted when we had the chance?”