Airport worker ‘fired gun near staff’
A maintenance worker employed at Melbourne airport is set to be charged after a six-month investigation by the Australian Federal Police into his use of a gun near colleagues while at work.
It can be revealed that the worker, whom The Weekend Australian has chosen not to identify, was referred to the AFP by his employer, Airservices Australia, in March.
The AFP yesterday confirmed the ongoing investigation after inquiries by The Weekend Australian.
It is understood the worker, the father of a young girl from Diggers Rest, 33km northwest of Melbourne, allegedly brought an unlicensed gun into Melbourne airport and fired off several live rounds inside a workshop.
Sources said the incident was deeply disturbing in terms of airport security and the man’s coworkers were shaken, concerned for their own welfare and that of the travelling public.
Other employees of Airservices Australia said they were astounded the matter had not been resolved, having occurred in October last year, and claimed it had been covered up by authorities.
Airservices Australia, a government-owned corporation that provides aviation services including telecommunications, navigation and rescue and fire fighting, referred the matter to the AFP only in March, five months after the alleged incident took place.
The man has worked as an emergency vehicle technician for Airservices Australia for more than five years. It is understood he is not currently working at Melbourne airport.
Airservices Australia spokeswoman Sarah Fulton refused to answer any questions from The Weekend Australian about the matter, but in a brief statement said the organisation took “safety and security seriously”.
Airservices took “appropriate steps to manage any known or potential risks to our operations and safety of our people”, the statement said. “As the matter is under investigation by the AFP, It would be inappropriate to comment.”
An AFP spokeswoman said an investigation was ongoing.
“The AFP can confirm that in March 2017, Airservices Australia referred a matter to the AFP for investigation,” she said. “The investigation relates to an alleged incident at a remote facility of Melbourne airport in October 2016. There was no threat or any ongoing risk to the travelling public as a result of this alleged incident.”
The man’s wife hung up without comment when contacted by The Weekend Australian.
The revelations come as Bill Shorten yesterday pledged to reinstate AFP officers at Hobart’s airport under a Labor government. The Opposition Leader said Labor would allocate 16 AFP officers to the airport at a cost of about $13 million if it won the next federal election. “We understand in these very difficult times of security that we need to make sure we have the AFP at our capital city airports,” he said.
Officers were withdrawn from the airport in October 2014, making Hobart the only capital city terminal without an AFP presence. The Transport Workers Union yesterday warned that safety and security at airports was at risk because of costcutting and understaffing.