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Thursday, 16 October 2003
Page: 21621


The SPEAKER (9:01 AM) —Further to my comments after question time yesterday, I wish to advise the House of security arrangements in Parliament House during the visits of President Bush and President Hu on 23 and 24 October 2003. In response to advice from relevant agencies, the President and I have agreed to a range of additional security measures to be implemented at Parliament House prior to and during President Bush's visit.

The major changes are that some access roads leading to Parliament House will not be available to vehicles from midnight on 22 October. Parliament Drive, which surrounds the building, will be closed to general traffic—that is, non pass holders—from early in the morning until 1 p.m. on 23 October. The forecourt public car park will be closed from midnight on 22 October, and members of the general public will not be able to enter Parliament House on 23 October until after President Bush has departed the building, which is expected to be around 1 p.m., when there will be a return to normal arrangements.

Arrangements are being put in place to allow senators' and members' self-drive vehicles, Comcars, diplomatic guests and guests who are being dropped off to attend the President's address to the parliament, to access Parliament Drive after 9 a.m. on 23 October. Pass holder access to Parliament Drive will be restricted from 9 a.m. Members of staff who cannot find parking at Parliament House in either the Senate or House of Representatives car parks before 9 a.m. on 23 October, and guests to the President's address who are driving themselves, will be advised to park on the Melbourne Avenue median strip at the southern end of Parliament House. A shuttle bus will be available to drop them off at either the Senate or House of Representatives entrance. As mentioned, I expect a return to normal arrangements at around 1 p.m.

As part of the package of additional security measures, the existing temporary white barriers at the front of the building are to be moved. This will result in a variation to the existing authorised assembly area, which will move approximately 40 metres closer to Old Parliament House. The reason for the variation is to provide additional security for the visits while at the same time preserving an authorised assembly area for lawful demonstrations. This arrangement will also apply for the visit by President Hu on Friday, 24 October. The existing guidelines for the conduct of protests in the parliamentary precincts, as approved by successive Presiding Officers, will apply for the visits by President Bush and President Hu.

In relation to the visit and address by President Hu on Friday, 24 October, it is not proposed to close Parliament House to the public for any period of time on that day. However, as is the case with the address by President Bush, access to the House of Representatives galleries for the address by President Hu will be by invitation only. An information circular will be distributed to all building occupants today, advising in greater detail all the additional security arrangements that will be put in place for the visits.

Further to queries yesterday from several members about committee rooms, I advise the House that, while some committee rooms have been reserved for purposes related to the visits, there are still committee rooms available for booking by committees at all times. The only obvious limitation is the restriction on public access to Parliament House from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, 23 October 2003.