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During the show trial, Schapelle Corby begged for CCTV footage to be released from both Brisbane and Sydney airports. These may have shown clearly that her bag was virtually empty when she departed. The footage could have provided direct and unambiguous proof that the marijuana was placed after she handed the bag over to the handlers.

One might imagine that provision of the footage would have been a formality, given its importance for Schapelle Corby’s life. But incredibly, no footage was provided. After initially stating that the Brisbane footage was in good order, the airport later changed this to a story that the cameras were being repaired, and then finally to a position that they were turned off.

The Sydney Airport and Qantas situation was even more disturbing. Despite a major drug operation being underway and a flight carrying cocaine being there at exactly the same time as Schapelle was on the airport [8] they too stated that they had no CCTV footage available! This despite the airport (and airline) having a very comprehensive CCTV system in place, including coverage of the baggage handling areas [34].

No cameras running or footage available across two major airports, post 9/11 and post the Bali bombings? Those airports being direct international links to Islamic countries, and whilst a drugs operation is actually underway at one of them? Do they really believe that to be a credible story?

Naturally, questions have raged since. What really happened to the CCTV footage? Who erased it?
Baggage handlers or related staff covering their tracks? Or the Australian Federal Police (who had jurisdiction of course at both airports)? Or another party?

Note that similar questions have also been asked with respect to the non-provision of x-ray images of her bag at both airports.

CCTV Footage debate
Official Committee Hansard


(Budget Estimates)
 TUESDAY, 24 MAY 2005


Page.33# 24th May 2005
Baggage handlers never used to be screened.
source - aph.gov.au PDF

1. Senator ALLISON— Mr, Ellison, Are closed-circuit television arrangements present in baggagehandling areas?
2. Senator ALLISON—Mr, Ellison, Prior to that, were all operations within baggage-handling areas covered under the CCTV arrangements?
3Senator ALLISON— Mr, Ellison, For how long are the tapes from those systems maintained?
4.  Senator ALLISON—Mr Keelty, are tapes from surveillance in airport luggage-handling areas ever used by the AFP in their investigations?
5. Senator ALLISON—Mr Keelty, So that would be related to terrorism—is that what you are saying?
comment to:— Mr Keelty, So the AFP can, at any point in time, ask for the tapes on baggage handling on certain days if there is suspected narcotics activity?
6.  Senator ALLISON—Mr Keelty, I understand that, but you have an interest, surely, in being able to secure evidence that might be collected on that CCTV.
7. Senator ALLISON Mr. Keelty—Such as drug trafficking?
8. Senator ALLISON—Mr. Keelty —Can you give the committee some idea of how frequently you request evidence from CCTV on drug trafficking within baggage-handling areas?
Comment to: Mr Keelty—I am sorry. I did not mean to ask for something which would be onerous to collect, but I want a general sense of how frequently the AFP uses this information and how readily it is available. I would have thought that, in your talks with airport authorities, whether they are private or otherwise, this would be fairly central to your evidence-collecting capability—is it not?
9. Senator ALLISON—Mr. Keelty—Is the collection of information via the CCTV, tapes of the CCTV and baggage handling areas, of interest to the AFP?
10. Senator ALLISON—I will go back to the first question and ask you to provide information about the number and occasions on which the AFP has requested tapes within baggage handling areas related to drug trafficking.
CHAIR—Which you have taken on notice, Mr Keelty.
11. Senator ALLISON—Perhaps over the last three years, for want of a better time frame.
CHAIR—It has been taken on notice, Senator.
12. Senator ALLISON—Was Minister Downer wrong, then, when he indicated that the reason that the CCTV tapes were not available in the case of Ms Corby’s arrest was that they were usually destroyed  within a few hours? That obviously is not correct from what you have just indicated.

13. Senator ALLISON—I am talking about the CCTV tapes of baggage handling activities.


Senator ELLISON Minister for Justice and Customs
1.  Senator Ellison—I understand that Qantas recently announced an increase in coverage. About a month or two ago, Qantas announced that it would be increasing its closed-circuit television coverage, which included baggage areas.
2.  Senator Ellison—I understand there was CCTV in baggage-handling areas. As to which airports, I would have to take that on notice, but I understand that there was provision of  closed-circuit television in baggage-handling areas.
3. Senator Ellison—I would have to take that on notice. That is a matter for Qantas airlines. I understand, from discussions with Qantas, that they are kept for a month or so. It depends on the workload in relation to the tapes and the systems concerned, but I will take that on notice and get back to the committee.
comment to Senator ALLISON—You also have to remember that state police have jurisdiction as well, so it is something that state police could avail themselves of.
12. Senator Ellison—There are a number of tapes involved. There are tapes by the airport corporation, Customs tapes and tapes by Qantas. So you have to look at which ones you are talking about because—
13. Senator Ellison—I will have to take this on notice and make sure that this is right, but there are cases, I understand, where some of the closed-circuit television of baggage handling areas is by the airport concerned. We are dealing with two airports, in the case that you are speaking of, and Qantas has its CCTV as well. So I will need to take that on notice. As I prefaced my remarks, it was a general understanding I had in relation to tapes being held for a period of time. That could change in certain circumstances. I did not say it was ironclad. I cannot comment on what Alexander Downer has said; I do not know what he was referring to

CHAIR—There are a number of questions that have been taken on notice there, Senator Allison. I am sure we will have those answers as soon as we can.
14. Senator Ellison—I can table that letter. I might add that it was addressed to the defence team for Schapelle Corby; I think I said it was to the court concerned. I believe it was provided to them with the expectation that it would be provided to the court. There were reports, of course, that said it was to the court. I am not sure what the involvement of Foreign Affairs was in relation to whether it was going to the court or to the defence team. But, suffice to say, there is one letter. This is a copy of it, and I table it.

CHAIR—Thank you for tabling that. I will have that collected.


4.  Mr Keelty—They could be. It would be in an investigation, as I mentioned before, of a breach of the legislation that we operate under.
Mr Keelty—It could be terrorism, it could be narcotics trafficking, it could be peoplesmuggling, it could be identity fraud—it could be a raft of issues.
6.  Mr Keelty—That is correct, if the tapes exist—remembering that the security at airports is governed by the Department of Transport and Regional Services. They set the standard and we are but one, as I have mentioned to you before, of a large number of agencies that operate out of the airports, including the state and territory police. All of the airports are privatised  and general community policing at airports is the responsibility of the state and territory police.

7. Mr Keelty—If it was a matter in which we had an interest, yes—and if the tapes existed.
8. Mr Keelty—That is correct.
9. Mr Keelty—I do not have the information here. I would have to take that on notice. But you are talking about every operation we involve ourselves in at airports, so it would take me some time to gather that information. We would need to know between what dates you required the information.
10. Mr Keelty—Which question do you want me to answer?
11. Mr Keelty—It may or may not be, depending on what the case is that is being investigated and whether the evidence exists.

FACT ###
a. Aviation Transport Security Bill 2003 
Bills Digest No. 23 2003–04 
Part 7: Information gathering 
Part 7 largely replicates existing Part 3A in the Air Navigation Act 1920
New section 109 allows the Secretary to require an aviation industry participant to provide him or her with security compliance information68 'if [he or she] believes on reasonable grounds' that the participant has information of a kind that is prescribed in the regulations. The Secretary must allow the participant at least 14 days to respond. A person failing to comply with a notice is liable to a fine of up 45 penalty units.69 

The fact that the requested information might lead to self-incrimination cannot be used as a reason for not providing it (new section 110), although the information can generally only be used for particular purposes (see new sections 112-113). This maintains the current position in existing
Part 3A in the Air Navigation Act 1920.
New section 115 provides that neither giving protected information or any information, document or thing obtained as direct or indirect consequence of giving protected information is admissible as evidence is a criminal proceeding or any other proceeding for recovery of a penalty, other than a proceeding under sections 137.1 or 137.2 of the Criminal Code. 

Fact ###:
b. Reference:  Aviation Transport Security Bill 2003 and Aviation Transport Security (consequential Provisions) Bill 2003
SEE: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/rrat_ctte/aviation03/submissions/sub03.doc 
11. Airport access control as proposed in the Bill is not altogether clear. It does not seem to take into account that most of the affected airports are privatised and any multi-access authorisation exposes the airport 'authority' to litigious risk – there should be clear guidelines on the issue of 'controls' that are deemed to be 'sensitive' 

Fact ###:
c. Bills Digest no. 157 2005–06 Aviation Transport Security Amendment Bill 2006

Fact ###:
d. The Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS) has advised that there was no “industry standard” for the retention of (unregulated) video surveillance records in October 2004.

Fact ###:
e. Topic: Schapelle Corby  Written question Senator Natasha Stott Despoja asked on 03/06/05 CCTV

Remember this is an investigation of "The Schapelle Corby Case file"  an 
independent review of the propositions/ scenario's. The correlating of information 
and event's that have unfolded over time, could they be mere coincidence or fact?.