Senate debates

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Parliament House: Security

3:01 pm

Photo of John HoggJohn Hogg (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Yesterday Senator Bob Brown asked a question of me with respect to security arrangements at Parliament House. I responded in writing to Senator Brown yesterday. I table a copy of that response and, with the concurrence of the Senate, it will be incorporated in Hansard.

The statement read as follows—

Response to question from Sen Bob Brown to President regarding Parliamentary Security

12 May 2010

In response to the question from Senator Bob Brown about the new funding for Parliament House security, the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) advises that in 2009, the Parliament House Security Management Board (5MB) commissioned a review of physical security for Parliament House. The 5MB is established under the Parliamentary Services Act 1999 and comprises senior officers of the three Parliamentary Service Departments.

The physical security review was undertaken by the Attorney-General’s Department. The review was conducted against the background of national security assessments in 2009. It was completed in August 2009. The Presiding Officers were subsequently briefed on the findings of the review, and requested that the Joint House Committee and Joint Committee on Security and Intelligence also be briefed. These briefings occurred in late 2009.

In summary, the review identified a number risks to Parliament House and its occupants, and recommended a range of risk mitigation actions.

The SMB supports the findings of the review, and the Presiding Officers have accepted the broad thrust of the recommendations.

A central consideration for the Presiding Officers (and for the SMB) is that Parliament House is a workplace for up to 3,500 people during sitting periods and around half that number in non-sitting periods; additionally, we have an average of 2,400 visitors per day, including groups of school children and international visitors. Clearly there is a duty of care for us as Presiding Officers, and also for the Government, to ensure that Parliament House is a safe workplace and a safe place of visitation.

Full implementation of the actions recommended in the review will require significant capital funding and operational funding. As a consequence, an NPP budget bid was submitted to the Government for consideration as part of the 2010/11 budget.

The Government has responded to our budget bid with the funding which is listed in the budget papers.

Subject to approval of the budget, the additional funding will be spent over the next two financial years on the following key actions:

Security barrier and reconfiguration of the public car park;
Reconfiguration of the Ministerial Wing car park;
New security gates on Senate, House of Representatives and Ministerial car parks;
Installing additional barriers adjacent to the existing bollards at the entrance to the three slip roads;
Safety film on all outer facing windows;
Upgrade the perimeter security around the Loading Dock;
Installation of improved sensors on the roof;
Random explosive trace detection, and vehicle screening;
Relocation and upgrading of the basement security control rooms; and
Improvements to internal security barriers and control points within Parliament House.

In addition, some actions were initiated earlier in 2010 using existing DPS capital funds, notably a reconfiguration of the public car park to move the bus stops and bus parking to the northern end of the car park. DPS has endeavoured to maintain the number of parking spaces for buses, cars etc whilst making these changes.

Taken together, these actions will mitigate the most significant risks identified in the 2009 review. Officers of DPS can provide a further briefing to Senator Brown or other senators about the proposed works to be funded through the budget initiative.

In response to the question from Senator Brown about other security-related works, DPS advises that it had already committed to a range of actions including:

Reconfiguration of Security Points 1, 2 and 3;
Building a new mail screening facility;
Improved security arrangements in the chambers, the Main Committee room and at the Senate and HoR entrances;
`Lock-down of the chamber precinct in the event of a security incident,
Upgrade of the closed circuit TV camera management system and some additional cameras, and
Upgrade of security communications network.

The SMB has been very concerned to ensure high levels of accessibility for occupants and visitors. The measures outlined above will be implemented in ways which maintain this level of accessibility.

A second review of information security is also underway, and will be completed later in 2010. Some further investment may be required as a result.