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Joint media release

The Hon Mark Vaile MP

Deputy Prime Minister
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
Leader of the Nationals

Philip Ruddock

The Attorney-General

Joint07/136MV - 30 August 2007
Directing laser lights at aircraft now points to gaol

Pointing a laser light or any other optical device at an aircraft could now result in gaol, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mark Vaile, and the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock, said in a joint statement today.

They warned that people who irresponsibly pointed laser lights at planes would now face up to two years imprisonment under legislation which became law this week.

Mr Ruddock said Australian Federal Police and State police had already responded to reports of people using laser beams near airports - and would pursue prosecutions under the new law.

"I hope that members of the public will continue to report sightings of people near airports attempting to target planes with laser beams - and assist police to put a stop to this dangerous practice," Mr Ruddock said

Mr Vaile said reports of laser beams targeting aircraft were on the increase with almost 10 a month being reported across Australia.

"While with many of these incidents there may well have been no intent to harm the aircraft or the pilot, the fact is that directing a laser beam at an aircraft is unacceptable and dangerous and it threatens the safety of the aircraft," Mr Vaile said.

"A laser light directed into the cabin of an aircraft can impair a pilot's vision at a critical moment.

"There are a range of legitimate uses for laser light devices but when they are used to target aircraft they are a major safety concern.

"We are determined to keep aircraft and passengers safe and that's why we've imposed tough new penalties for those who misuse laser lights."

Media contacts:
Tanya Cleary (Mr Vaile's Office)
Ph 02 6277 7680
Mobile 0418 615 280

Sarah Stock ( Mr Ruddock's Office )
Mobile 0419 278 715

Ref: 136MV/2007 - Joint