Brisbane airport last night was a perfect reminder that Australia relies on implausible scenarios, imperfectly screened, to create an impression that air travel is secure.

Early in the evening a number of Qantas passengers, the Courier-Mail says there were only three of them, reached their departure gates in the ‘airside’ part of the terminal without them or their hand luggage being screened.

Brisbane airport declared that the risk of mingling with intent was so great it not only evacuated the entire domestic terminal, but those Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Blue flights that were awaiting push back. Who would have thought that a terrorist plot would involve something as cunning as the exchange of bombs or weapons between passengers using different airlines up to 500 metres apart? Exactly how is that going to make a better bang?

So everyone goes outside and really does mingle, nice and tight, just the way a suicide bomber would like. Perfect for those unscreened backpackers who arrived on the airport train, or those suitcase toting swarthy looking men who arrived by taxi right outside the damned building just before the curtain went up on the airport’s second supersized security drama in a week.

The trouble with security fiascos like this is that they eventually make people ask the crucial questions.

Such as whether the screening line or the aircraft is the terrorist target? Or whether the screening of checked or carried luggage works 100%? Or whether it is a deliberate farce? The answers are likely to be ‘Both’, ‘No’ and ‘Yes’ in that order.

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