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Cablegate: Media Reaction to New Zealand's Aviation Security

VZCZCXRO4812
RR RUEHNZ
DE RUEHWL #0250 0841937
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251937Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4070
INFO RUEHNZ/AMCONSUL AUCKLAND 1259
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 4795
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0515
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0282
RUEHMT/AMCONSUL MONTREAL 0018
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/TSA HQ WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS WELLINGTON 000250

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR EB/TRA/OTP, EAP/ANP - DAN RICCI, DHS/FAMS
SYDNEY FOR TSA REP, MONTREAL FOR ICAO REP

E.O. 12985: N/A
TAGS: EAIR PGOV PTER KTIA PREL NZ
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION TO NEW ZEALAND'S AVIATION SECURITY
LEGISLATION.


1. (U) This message contains an action request at paras 2 and 5.

2. (SBU) Summary: In compliance with International Civil Aviation
Organization (ICAO) requirements, the GNZ recently introduced
Aviation Security Legislation which will enhance the powers of
airport security officials and strengthen background checks on
screeners and other airport personnel. The bill would also allow
foreign international carriers to arrive and depart New Zealand with
air marshals on board. The marshals' provision has generated a
series of biased local media reports and comments by non-Government
MPs claiming that foreign governments will be able to place armed
marshals on board New Zealand carriers. The reports also claim that
the GNZ is taking this step to curry favor in Washington. Post has
not yet received press inquiries about the stories but likely will
soon. We request Washington provide contingency guidance. End
summary.

2. (SBU) In the past week, news media in New Zealand have put a
somewhat dramatic (and erroneous) spin on the Government's recently
introduced legislation to enhance New Zealand's civil aviation
security measures. The reports follow the March 13th announcement by
Minister of Transport Safety, Harry Duynhoven that the government's
new legislation is intended to strengthen aviation security to
comply with ICAO standards. He also stressed that the legislation
would not require NZ to accept marshals, but allow the Government to
do so in response to specific, credible threats. On March 14, the
New Zealand Herald announced that as a result of the legislation,
"foreign armed marshals will be allowed on to Air New Zealand
international flights" and linked the move to the PM's March 20-21
trip to Washington. On March 21, the Dominion Post repeated the
misinformation about the legislation, and also suggested that the
timing of the legislation was meant to coincide with Prime Minister
Clark's visit to Washington in an attempt to curry favor. Post has
kept TSA rep, Penny Anderson located in Sydney, apprised of these
developments.

Fact vs. Fiction
----------------

3. (SBU) The "Aviation Security Legislation Bill" amends the
Aviation Crimes Act 1972 and the Civil Aviation Act 1990. The
proposals include providing aviation security officers with search
and seizure powers within specified limits, enabling the screening
and searching of airport staff, strengthening provisions for
checking the background of people working in areas critical to
aviation security and providing appropriate natural justice
provisions for people whose backgrounds are checked. The section of
the bill attracting media attention enables foreign in-flight
security officers to enter and depart New Zealand and enabling New
Zealand to deploy in-flight security officers, should the government
decide to do so.

4. (SBU) Rebecca Gallagher-Scott, Senior Advisor at the Ministry of
Transport confirmed that the legislation does not speak to "foreign"
air marshals being permitted on New Zealand carriers but does allow
foreign carriers on international flights to arrive and depart with
air marshals onboard. The ruling Labor Party expects the
legislation, which has already passed its first reading, to pass
with the support of the National Party. The Green Party is the only
party on record opposing the bill. Said MP Keith Locke, "In the
years since the U.S. put air marshals on planes they've not dealt
with any terrorist but have terrorized many passengers." (NB:
Oddly, the Dom Post article said the National Party's John Hay also
linked the legislation to the PM's U.S. visit. Post will raise our
concern about this misinformation with National Party contacts.)

Requested Guidance
------------------

5. (SBU) Post anticipates that as the bill approaches passage it
will attract more media attention. We request guidance,
particularly including information about the successful
implementation of the air marshal program in other ICAO countries.

McCormick

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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