House debates

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Parliamentary Zone

9:31 am

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That, in accordance with section 5 of the Parliament Act 1974, the House approves the following proposal for work in the Parliamentary Zone which was presented to the House on 30 November 2016, namely: Parliament House security upgrade works—Perimeter security enhancements.

Yesterday, I tabled details of plans to enhance security arrangements at Parliament House. I wish to inform the House now that in accordance with standing order 222(a), the House Appropriations and Administration Committee met on Monday and resolved that the House Appropriations and Administration Committee endorses the Speaker presenting the Group 2 security works for Parliament House to the House for approval when a similar motion is to be moved in the Senate. As honourable members will see from the papers that were tabled yesterday in relation to this motion, the proposed works are for security enhancements, which include a physical perimeter using fencing and landscaping, replacement of framing and glazing at the northern, eastern and western entrances, an additional bollard at the eastern and western entrances and poles for additional CCTV security cameras. Honourable members will see that the details outlining these proposed works are included in the tabling statement.

On 23 November, the committee received a confidential briefing from officers of the Department of Parliamentary Services, which has overall carriage of these building works, and the Australian Federal Police. The briefing provided details of the proposed works and the need for the works to strengthen and further enhance the existing physical security framework here at Parliament House. All enhancements, those already completed and those being proposed today, are the result of advice from our security agencies and are based on many months of consideration. The Presiding Officers regularly receive advice on the security of Parliament House and that advice guides all decisions that we make on the security of this building and its occupants. The funds for all Group 1 and Group 2 works have already been fully appropriated.

Parliament House has always rightly been known as the people's house and the committee was mindful of balancing the security at Parliament House with the open access to Parliament House by all people. Preserving the valuable and unique heritage of Parliament House has been an important consideration for the Presiding Officers as we have worked through the various proposals, and this was also important to committee members. To ensure the moral rights of the late Romaldo Giurgola in the design of Australian Parliament House have been considered, the Department of Parliamentary Services conducted appropriate consultation with the nominated administrator. It is important to acknowledge these works do have an impact on the original design intent of Parliament House. However, it is also important to acknowledge the world has changed since the original design brief for Parliament House was created in the late 1970s. Where possible the measures and comments put forward by the nominated administrator of Mr Giurgola's moral rights have been noted and implemented carefully balancing risk mitigation requirements.

Finally, I would like to advise the House what this package of security measures will not do, following some inaccurate speculation in the past few days. 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. The public will also to continue to access the roof this building in precisely the same way, passing through screening and going up to the roof internally via the elevators. And let me dispel the myth that the public can walk right over the top of Parliament House. No-one has been able to walk up the grass and 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.

As the Speaker, it is my primary responsibility, along with President of the Senate, to ensure the safety and security of all Parliament House occupants, including staff, the press gallery and the one million people, of which 100,000 are schoolchildren, who visit Parliament House each year. I take this responsibility extremely seriously. The committee unanimously endorsed me bringing forward the Group 2 security works to the House. I now recommend that the House supports the motion and agrees to the works, and I move that the motion be agreed to.

Question agreed to.