Monday, 22 May 2017

Parliament House Security - 22 May 2017

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The SPEAKER (15:11): I have a short statement to make to the House. At the start of Senate estimates today, the President of the Senate updated Senate estimates on the proposed security works that members will be familiar with from last year, and I just thought that out of courtesy I would do the same for the House.

On Thursday, 1 December last year, the House of Representatives and the Senate approved the Group 2 security works to enhance the security here at Parliament House. I would like to advise members that, from today, you will start to see some signs of some of the work beginning.

The first stage of works will commence with the establishment of a temporary construction site on the northern front grass ramps. This will include the erection of temporary fencing and hoardings around these ramps in preparation for the construction of new security fences. The temporary fencing and hoardings will only be in place for the duration of the construction, which is expected, of course, to take several months.

Access to the footpath along Parliament Drive, the forecourt, the main public entrance and the public car park will not be affected. Some periodic traffic delays can be expected on Parliament Drive when construction equipment is brought onto the site. Building occupants will be notified of any significant delays wherever possible. There will be no traffic delays during peak times when the houses are sitting or during the estimates period.

While access to the grass ramps will be impeded for several months during this work, once the work is completed the public will continue to access a significant amount of the grassed area on the northern front side of the building. On completion of the work on the external perimeter at the front, work will then proceed around the building, with phase 2 covering the north-east and north-west corners and phase 3 covering the south-east and south-west corners, with the final stage being the southern ramps. Members may also notice work around the house commencing on the upgrade of CCTV security cameras.

Can I again stress: the changes will not impede or change the way that the public enters the building. The public has always entered across the forecourt and through the front doors, and they will continue to do so after all of this construction of Group 2 works is completed. The public will continue to access the roof of the building in precisely the same way, passing through the screening and going up to the roof via the elevators.

Despite some recent comment, the public has not been able to walk up the grass ramps and right over the top of Parliament House for 11 years, since the existing fences were erected on security grounds in 2005. There will be no changes to the current arrangements for protest action on the authorised assembly area at the front of the building. Of course, as Presiding Officers, we see it as our responsibility to ensure the safety and security of all Parliament House occupants, including staff, the press gallery and the million people, of whom 130,000 are schoolchildren, who visit Parliament House annually. These security enhancements balance the requirement to maintain the security of the building and its occupants with continued open access to the many visitors who come to parliament each year. All security enhancements—those already completed and those starting today—are the result of advice from our security agencies and are based on many months of consideration. Together with the President of the Senate, I regularly receive advice on the security of Parliament House and that advice guides all of our decisions.

Finally, design for the security enhancements was prepared by Guida Moseley Brown Architects, led by Mr Harold Guida, who is one of the moral rights holders on behalf of the late Romaldo Giurgola, the nominated architect for Australian Parliament House. The perimeter security enhancements have been carefully designed to minimise the visual impact while maximising public access. Following completion of the work, the building will remain one of the most open and accessible in the world. I say to members that, whenever there are future updates I feel I should give, I will give them in this way here in the House.

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