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Thursday, 27 November 2014
Page: 9510

The PRESIDENT (12:25): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

This bill, the Parliamentary Service Amendment Bill 2014, amends the Parliamentary Service Act 1999 to provide that the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, be a member of the Security Management Board. Alternatively, in place of the commissioner, a deputy commissioner or senior executive AFP employee, may be a member of the Security Management Board for Parliament House upon nomination by the presiding officers. The bill also amends the existing functions of the board to include the operation of security measures.

As President of the Senate, my primary concern is for the safety of Parliament House, but more importantly its occupants, and to ensure that people may go about their business in a safe and secure environment. As senators will be aware, the existing security arrangements for Parliament House have been enhanced and strengthened over the past weeks, following the national terrorism public alert level being raised from medium to high. Security arrangements in the parliamentary precincts are under continual and careful assessment, and I am working closely with a range of departments including security and intelligence agencies, in carrying out the necessary security works within the parliamentary precinct.

Together with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, we have already implemented additional measures here at Parliament House, including enhanced perimeter controls, changed access arrangements for the public and private areas of Parliament House, and an armed response capability. We have also increased the armed presence guarding our parliament, which now includes long armed weapons. Whilst we have taken the necessary steps on security early, building occupants will notice significant building security works being undertaken in the weeks and months ahead.

As part of the physical security enhancements, we have been reviewing the governance arrangements for security matters within Parliament House. This bill seeks to further strengthen those governance arrangements in two important areas.

Firstly, this bill will enable a representative of the Australian Federal Police to be a full member of the Security Management Board, a board which is established under section 65A of the Parliamentary Service Act 1999. This board provides advice to the presiding officers as required, on security policy and the management of security measures, for Parliament House.

Other members of the board include representatives from the Department of the Senate, the Department of the House of Representatives, and the Department of Parliamentary Services. The function of the board is to provide advice to the presiding officers on a range of security measures, and having the Australian Federal Police as a member of the board will boost the board's capability and reach on security matters.

Secondly, this bill will amend the remit of the board, which is set out in subsection 65A(5) of the Act, to allow the board to provide advice to the presiding officers on the management or operation of security measures for Parliament House. This will mean that the board may provide a wide range of advice to the presiding officers on both short-term and long-term security matters.

Accordingly, I commend the bill.

Debate adjourned.

Ordered that the bill be listed on the Notice Paper as a government business order of the day.