Parliament House Security Overhaul: Not Everyone Is Impressed


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Security at Parliament House is reportedly set to be tightened as authorities worry about the building’s vulnerability to a terror attack. New reinforcements are believed to include security barriers in public areas, fencing and gates around the Senate and House of Representatives entries, fewer pedestrian entry points and extra machine gun-equipped police, Fairfax Media reports.

Restricted access to the complex’s signature sloping lawns could stop people walking over the heads of their elected representatives, as the building was designed.

A number of changes have reportedly received support from the major parties in the lower house and will be put to senators this week, with a view to beginning the works over summer.

Security both inside and outside the 250,000 square metre premises has been stepped up significantly since 2014, when intelligence services intercepted “chatter” in terror networks about an attack on the building.

Cabinet minister Mathias Cormann says he feels safe in Parliament House, but says he’s not an expert.

“I trust that the experts make sensible decisions, appropriately balancing the need for access with the need obviously for sensible security arrangements,” he told ABC TV.

Asked whether children should be allowed to roll on the grass hills, he said: “I think children rolling down the hill is a fantastic thing and I’m sure that children rolling down the hill is not a security risk to the parliament.”

Liberal senator Chris Back hopes the grass hills aren’t blocked off, recalling how he proudly tells his West Australian constituents it’s the only parliament in the world you can walk over.

“If we were to lose that then I think the people would lose,” he told reporters, describing the building as symbolic of the Australian way of life.

“Yes it’s a risk, life’s a risk.”

Senator Back said there should be greater communication between police instead and people should be alert.
Nationals MP Andrew Broad had a clear message: “Let them roll down the grass.”

“Children come to the parliament, they want to come into the gallery, they want to see members of parliament, they want to walk over our heads, they want to roll down the grass,” he told reporters.

“Let’s not let terrorists destroy our way of life.” Mr Broad hasn’t tumbled down the iconic grass slope since he was a child, but thinks it might be time for another attempt.

“I reckon at the end of the year that’d be a good look; all the pollies finish the parliament with a good roll down the grass and tell people that parliament ultimately is about a bit of fun,” he said.

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