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New Parliament House-Joint Standing Committee - Report - Precincts of the new Parliament House and the Parliamentary Zone, dated 25 November 1985


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The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

JO INT STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE NEW PARLIAMENT H O U SE

Precincts of the New Parliament House and the Parliamentary Zone

Report

25 November 1985

Presented and ordered to be printed 28 November 1985

Parliamentary Paper No. 395/1985

Parliamentary Paper No. 395/1985

The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia

JOINT STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE NEW PARLIAMENT HOUSE

Report on the Precincts of the New Parliament House and the Parliamentary Zone

November 1985

The Commonwealth Government Printer Canberra 1986

© Commonwealth of Australia 1986

ISBN 0 644 0412 7

Printed by Authority by the Commonwealth Government Printer

MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMITTEE

(Thirty-fourth Parliament!

Joint Chairmen

Senator the Hon. D. McClelland President of the Senate

Hon. Dr H .A. Jenkins, MP Speaker of the House of Representatives

Members

The Hon. G.G.D. Scholes, MP Minister for Territories

Senator M.A. Colston

Senator D.J. MacGibbon

Senator M.E. Reid

Senator M. Reynolds

Senator K.W. Sibraa

Senator the Rt Hon. R.G. Withers

The Hon. J.D.M. Dobie, MP

Mr S.C. Dubois, MP

Mr M.J. Lee, MP

Mr B. Lloyd, MP

Mr L.B. McLeay, MP

Mrs K.J. Sullivan

Secretary to the Committee

Mr D.M. Piper

: · Μ

s'V

REPORT RELATING TO THE

PRECINCTS OF THE NEW PARLIAMENT HOUSE

AND THE PARLIAMENTARY ZONE

1. The Joint Standing Committee on the New Parliament House has

considered aspects relating to the definition of the

Parliamentary precincts and the Parliamentary Zone. In this brief

report, the Committee outlines the background to the issues

involved, makes recommendations in respect of the precincts for

the new Parliament House and for the Parliamentary Zones having

identified the alternatives available to achieve these

objectives. The report also contains an Appendix describing the

arrangements existing in certain other Parliaments in Australia

and overseas, and in the Australian High Court and Australian

National Gallery.

■Summary of recommendations

2. The Committee recommends;;

(a) that the area of the Parliamentary precincts for the

new Parliament House be defined by legislation;

(b) that the precincts of the Parliament, following the

move to the new Parliament House, be defined as

follows:

"The area bounded by and including the base of

the retaining walls around the site contained

within the inner kerb of Capital Circle together

with that area of the upper surface of the Land

Bridge between Capital Hill and the junctions of

the 2 bridges across State Circle with the upper

levels of the northern cutting of State Circle".

2

(c) that legislation to be enacted declaring the area of

the Parliamentary precincts should also make provision

for the Parliament to declare that buildings

temporarily occupied by the Parliament be considered

part of the precincts, or in the case of buildings

vacated by the Parliament, that those buildings not be

considered part of the precincts. (In making this

recommendation, the Committee specifically re-affirms

the views expressed in its May 1984 report on the use

of the Provisional Parliament House when vacated by the Parliament);

(d) that legislation declaring the area of the

Parliamentary precincts contain a schedule listing

buildings affected, and that the schedule be subject to

amendment by regulation;

(e) that provision be made:

(i) for police obligation to take action, and for

Crown obligation to prosecute for offences,

within the precincts, at the direction of the

Presiding Officers; and

(ii) for the application of public order legislation

in specified areas of the House; and

(f) that early action be taken to amend the Parliament Act

1974 to enlarge the Parliamentary Zone by including

that area between Capital and State Circles not

presently included in the zone.

The Justification for a Definition of the Parliamentary Precincts

3. There is no doubt that Parliament House is a property of the

Commonwealth. The definition of the precincts as proposed in this

paper would give clear expression to the power of the Presiding

3

Officers to manage that property on behalf of the Parliament of

the Commonwealth, in association with but independent of the

Executive Government which presumes to act for the Commonwealth

in all matters. Given that at present there is no clear

definition of the precincts, there are 3 major defects which

require attention:

(a) although the Houses have the undoubted power to take a

person into custody and to commit a person to prison,

and consequently to expel a person from the precincts,

there is no clear legal obligation upon the police to

carry out the orders of the Presiding Officers;

(b) although persons may be prosecuted for criminal

offences committed in the precincts, the Crown has the

usual discretion as to prosecution of such offences,

and is under no clear legal obligation to prosecute

offences at the direction of the Presiding Officers;

and

(c) although there is no doubt that the ordinary law

applies in the precincts according to its tenor, there

appears to be some doubt, whether well-founded or not,

about particular criminal offences in their application

to Parliament House.

4. It is considered essential that the building in which the

Parliament meets, and access points and adjoining areas necessary

for its proper operation, should be under the control of the

Parliament through its Presiding Officers.

5. In 1969 in its report on the alternative sites for the new

Parliament House, the Joint Select Committee on the New and

Permanent Parliament House noted that:

4

"Down through the years it has been an embarrassment to

the Parliament to lack control or be unsure of the

extent of its control over the area of land surrounding

the building."

6. The Committee went on to observe that:

"At present various Commonwealth Departments are

concerned with aspects of the Parliamentary area and

several statutes have application to it. Over time,

much correspondence has flowed between the Parliament

and the Departments in the matters of traffic control,

parking facilities, police activities, control of

demonstrations, public access to the building, roadway

design, etc. It is felt that many of the problems which

have arisen could have been avoided by having the whole

area placed under the control of the Parliament through

its Presiding Officers. Senators and Members using

their own cars in Canberra will, for instance, be aware

of the difficulties of parking which have arisen from time to time."2.

7. The following year in its final report on the new Parliament

House, the Joint Select Committee stated:

"The determination of the precise area which will form

the Parliamentary grounds, and over which control will

be exercised by the Parliament, through its Presiding

Officers, is most important. It is believed that

Parliament’s authority over the area it at present

regards as its property may rest on doubtful ground.

This should certainly not be the case in a new building

in which there should be a written specification of the 1 2

1. Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent House, Report on the Alternative Sites of Capital Hill and the Camp Hill Area far the New and Permanent Parliament House. April 1969, Volume 1, p. 12.

2. Ibid.

5

exact area that is being appropriated for Parliament's

use, and formal title to it should be placed beyond

doubt. In particular, the position of the Executive

block needs to be carefully delineated and any unusual

situations arising from occupancy of a roadway, etc.,

need to be clearly covered."3.

8. In a report in May 1978, the Senate Committee of Privileges

called for legislation to define the boundaries. In October 1984

the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege recommended

that:

"the precincts of the present Parliament House and of

the new Parliament House, be defined

authoritatively".3 4 .

9. As outlined in House of Representatives Practice:

"The circumstances in which the issue of parliamentary

precincts becomes relevant are:

. the exercise of authority by the House, and by the

Speaker or the Serjeant-at-Arms in the name of the

House, within the precincts of the House. For example,

the House of Commons has treated as a contempt:

. misconduct by Members or strangers within the

precincts, and

. service of legal process within the precincts;

3. Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House, Report on the Proposed Parliament House for the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. March 1970. p.86. 4. Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege. Final

Report, October 1984 , p.142.

6

. the sale of alcoholic refreshments within the precincts

which is exempted from the operation of the licensing

laws. In Parliament House the liquor laws of the

Australian Capital Territory are specifically excluded

in their application;

. limitation of the powers of the police operating within

the Parliament and its precincts, and

. the application of security arrangements for the

Parilament".5.

The Area of the Precincts

10. In its final report, the Joint Select Committee on the New

and Permanent Parliament House tended to the view that

the Executive block would not form part of the precincts of the

new Parliament House. The location of the Executive area within

the design of the new Parliament House and its proximity to part

of the Parliamentary Library and other parliamentary areas may

affect the possibility of the Executive area being divorced from

the parliamentary areas and Parliamentary precincts.

11. Furthermore, any suggestion that parts only of the new

Parliament House need be included in the precincts of the

Parliament ignores the reality, and indicates little

understanding, of the way the Parliament, its Members and its

committees operate. The Committee believes that, on balance, the

whole of the building and other areas of parliamentary usage

should be included in the precincts.

12. Apart from the lack of a clear definition of the precincts

of the present building, complicated by additions made to it,

there is no clearly identifiable line which, de facto, can be

recognised as the boundary of the precincts of the Parliament.

There is not only a need to define the precincts but the boundary

needs to be clearly identifiable and recognisable as such. 5

5. J .A. Pettifer, CBE (ed.) , House of Representatives Practice. 1981, p.156.

7

13. The above ground structure of the new building is surrounded

by "Parliament Drive". Beyond "Parliament Drive" are gardens,

grounds, sporting facilities, walking paths, the ceremonial

parade ground, parking areas, entrances to underground parking,

and the goods receival area through which all goods must enter

the building. There is also the possibility of the future

construction of a child care centre within the grounds. All of

these external facilities are enclosed within Capital Circle.

14. There appear to be 4 readily identifiable areas which could

comprise the precincts of the Parliament. These areas are shown

in diagram form at Appendix 1. In summary, they are the area

enclosed within (1) the building line, (2) the inner kerb of

Parliament Drive, (3) the inner kerb of Capital Circle together

with the surfaces of the Land Bridges and (4) the inner kerb of

State Circle. The first and second options suffer the

disadvantage of excluding all of the external facilities to which

reference has already been made, while the third and fourth

options include all of these external facilities and can be

readily identified and defined. The third option (Capital Circle)

meets a number of necessary criteria, being:

(a) visually definable;

(b) administratively sound, and

(c) representative of the interface between

Parliament and the City of Canberra.

15. The fourth option (the area contained within State Circle)

suffers from a number of disadvantages. The greatest difficulty

would be caused by the fact that Capital Circle, one of the

city's busiest roads, would be located within the Parliamentary

precincts and therefore under the authority of the Presiding

Officers. This would be undesirable and perhaps unworkable.

Although the extension of the precincts to State Circle was

8

favoured by this Committee in the 32nd Parliament, it is now

considered that this is not a viable option. Later in this

Report, however, it is proposed that the area out to State Circle

should be included within the Parliamentary Zone so that any

developments in the area between Capital and State Circles must

be approved by the Parliament.

16. It is recommended that the precincts of the new Parliament

House be defined as follows:

"The area bounded by and including the base of the

retaining walls around the site contained within the

inner kerb of Capital Circle together with that area of

the upper surface of the Land Bridge between Capital

Hill and the junctions of the 2 bridges across State

Circle with the upper levels of the northern cutting of

State Circle."

Declaring the Precincts

17. Whilst various alternatives are possible, two major options

emerge. These are:

(a) the adoption of resolutions by both Houses of the

Parliament; and

(b) the enactment of legislation.

Arrangements for the definition of precincts in certain other

Parliaments in Australia and overseas, and in other institutions,

are summarised in Appendix 2.

18. The matter of delineation was considered by the Joint Select

Committee on Parliamentary Privilege which reported in favour of

legislation. In its final report, the Committee stated:

9

"The delineation of the precincts (both in the present

Parliament House and in the new building) could be done

either by statute, or by resolutions of the Houses. The

difficulty with resolutions is that they would

essentially be no more than the expression of opinions

of the Houses, and accordingly delineation of the

precincts by statute is preferable. .

19. That Committee went on to propose that:

"Any delineation of the precincts by statute should

contain a provision for variation in the future, and

also some form of delegation for the Parliament, or the

Presiding Officers, to be able to declare that a

particular place is or is not to be considered a part

of the precincts. This would obviate the necessity for

amendment to any statute to cover, for example, the

temporary occupation of another building for

parliamentary purposes."6 7 8 .

20. The Committee also invited attention to the doubt that

exists as to the extent of the application of certain statutory

provisions to the precincts of the Parliament. Whilst it is clear

that the ordinary criminal law applies in the precincts, a fact

recognised by that Committee, it recommended that:

"(1) the areas of doubt concerning the application of

particular laws within the precincts be clarified and

resolved;

(2) the precincts of the present Parliament House and of

the new Parliament House, be defined

authoritatively."®.

6. Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, op.cit. p.141. 7. Ibid. pp. 141-142.

8. Ibid, p.142

10

21. That Committee's recommendation for the definition of the

precincts of the Parliament is in accord with a recommendation

made by the Senate Committee of Privileges in May 1978. It is

strongly supported in respect of the new Parliament House. The

proposal for declarations by the Parliament and the Presiding

Officers should overcome difficulties envisaged by the

Parliament's occupation of East Block and the former Hotel

Kurrajong. It is not considered appropriate for the Act to be

varied other than by amendment.

22. Accordingly, it is recommended that:

(a) the area of the Parliamentary precincts for the new

Parliament House be defined by legislation;

(b) the statute be drafted in consultation with

representatives of the Parliamentary departments and

the appropriate Executive departments to provide:

(i) for the Parliament to be able to declare that a

particular place is or is not to be considered

part of the precincts;

(ii) for the Presiding Officers to have the power of

management of buildings in the precincts on

behalf of the Parliament;

(iii) for an obligation on the police to remove any

person from the precincts at the direction of the

Presiding Officers;

(iv) for an obligation on the Crown to prosecute, at

the direction of the Presiding Officers, any

person for an offence committed in the precincts;

11

(v) for the Public Order (Protection of Persons and

Property) Act 1971 and related legislation to

apply within the precincts; and

(vi) for the foregoing provisions not to derogate from

any power or immunity of the Houses, their

members or their committees under section 49 of

the Constitution.

The Parliamentary Zone

23. The Parliament Act 1974 not only determined Capital Hill as

the site for the new Parliament House but also defined the

Parliamentary Zone within which no building or other work is to

be created without the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The

zone comprises the area within Capital Circle to its junctions

with Commonwealth and Kings Avenues and thence along those

avenues to their respective junctions with the southern edge of

Lake Burley Griffin.

24. The purpose of declaring a Parliamentary Zone is clear - to

ensure that Parliament is able to exercise control over the area

so that no works are carried out or buildings erected which would

detract from, be not in harmony with, or have adverse

consequences upon, the Parliament building. Since the enactment,

a number of proposals have come under the scrutiny of this

Committee and been approved by both Houses.

25. The area between Capital and State Circles, other than that

small part between Commonwealth and Kings Avenues, is not

included in the Parliamentary Zone. It is of concern that this

area, in such close proximity to the new building and forming

part of its environment, has not been included. The Committee

considers it essential that the Parliament should be in a

position to prevent this area being put to some use which may not

be in harmony with the new building and parliamentary purposes. A

simple amendment to the Parliament Act 1974 would overcome this

possibility and it is recommended:

12

That early action be taken to amend the 'Parliament Act

1974' to enlarge the Parliamentary Zone by including

that area between Capital and State Circles not

presently included in the zone.

26. At Appendix 3 are diagrams showing the existing and proposed

Parliamentary Zones.

(H.A. JENKINS)

Speaker

Canberra

25 November 1985

PARLIAMENTARY PRECINCTS

PARLIAMENT DRIVE)

OPTION 3 p a r l i a m e n t a r y p r e c i n c t s

( I N N E R KER B, C A P I T A L C I R C L E A N D P A R T _ 0 F L A N D B R I D G E )

OPTION 4

PARLIAMENTARY PRECINCTS

( I N N E R K E R B, S T A T E C I R C L E )

A P P E N D I X IB

APPENDIX 2

ARRANGEMENTS IN CERTAIN OTHER PARLIAMENTS, THE

AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT AND THE AUSTRALIAN

NATIONAL GALLERY

New South Wales

There is no definition of the precincts except

for some abstract references in the constitution which

are more concerned with what the House is, rather than

where it is. Because the physical extent of the precincts

is not defined it is not possible to exercise authority

with any confidence.

The N.S.W. Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary

Privilege in its final report of September 1985 has

recommended -

"(1) That a statute be enacted physically defining

the precincts of the Parliament and vesting their

control in the Presiding officers. The Western Australian

statutes would provide a useful starting point for

such a statute. This statute would include provisions

making it clear

(a) that the Presiding Officers have absolute

authority over access to the precincts of the

Parliament or any individual sections of those

precincts;

(b) no law enforcement agency has any right

to operate within the precincts of the Parliament

without the express permission of the presiding

Officers;

(c) the control of demonstrations within the

Parliamentary precincts should be by the Parlia­

mentary attendants and the police directed

by the Serjeant-at-Arms and Usher of the Black

Road using the delegated powers of the Presiding

Officers.

(2) A number of civil provisions need be made with

respect to members of the New South Wales Police

Force within the precincts of the Parliament. These

would be:

(a) The conducting by the Parliament, in conjunc­

tion with an officer delegated by the Commissioner

of Police, of an induction course on the institu­

tion of Parliament and its privileges for officers

whose duties will bring them to be part of

the patrol of the Parliamentary precincts during

Parliamentary Sittings;

(b) the control of such police while they

are within the precincts by the Serjeant-at-Arms

and Usher of the Black Rod under delegated

authority from the Presiding Officers; and

(c) firearms should not be carried by members

of the Police Force within the precincts of

the Parliament".

Victoria

Precincts have not been defined by statute

or statutory rule. The precincts have been interpreted

as including the buildings proper, steps, carriageways,

collonades and gardens but this view has not been tested

in the courts. There has been some concern over recent

years in relation to the police acting on behalf of the

Parliament, particularly on the steps. Control is exercised

by the Presiding Officers through the Serjeant-at-Arms

and the Usher of the Black Rod.

3.

There have been moves for some time to define

the precincts and it is understood that the Parliament

is interested in formalising the present arrangements.

South Australia

Precincts are defined by an Act of Parliament

but powers within the precincts are not defined. Authority

within the precincts is vested in the Presiding Officers

and control is exercised by the Parliament through its

contempt provisions.

There have been some problems with demonstrators

on the steps of Parliament House and any action has been

left to the discretion of the police. The Crown Solicitor

has provided an opinion that the contempt powers could

be used in relation to the steps but that it would be

cumbersome and recommended specific amendment to the existing

Police Offences Act.

Queensland

The situation in Queensland is not clearly

defined, the grounds are a reserve under the Lands Act

but no trustee has ever been appointed. It is "understood"

that the Speaker has control over the House, buildings

and grounds but specific powers are not defined.

The Criminal Code does give the Speaker certain

powers over certain aspects of disturbance when the House

is sitting and the Clerk exercises these powers when the

House is not sitting. These amendments were made in response

to specific circumstances following a legal case.

4.

Western Australia

Precincts are defined by legislation. Control

and management are expressed in rules and by-laws issued

by the Joint House Committee and the Parliamentary Reserve

Board. Powers are exercised by the Presiding Officers

and the House Controller.

Tasmania

The precincts and authority of Parliament are

also defined in an Act. Control of the grounds is vested

in a House Committee which has the power to appoint a

Controlling Officer and create rules of conduct. Monetary

penalties are provided for contravention of the Act, although

these are regarded as being out-of-date. Complaints under

the Act can only be made by the Controlling Officer.

Nor t . her n_Territory

The precincts are defined in a Schedule of

the Legislative Assembly_(Powers and Privileges) Act 1977 .

They can be altered by a resolution of the Assembly. The

Speaker has control and management of the precincts and

prosecutions are initiated by the Privileges Committee.

The precincts at present include only the grounds

presently occupied by the Legislative Assembly Chamber,

some offices and a carpark. Other buildings occupied by

Members are not included in the precincts.

No problems have been experienced, although

difficulties may arise in the transition from the present

building to the new Legislative Assembly building.

5.

United Kingdom

The House of Commons has exercised control

over what it regards as its precincts since the 17th Century.

There is no legislation and the precincts have been regarded

as being any premises occupied corporately by Members

for the purpose of their parliamentary duties.

The question of access to Parliament is dealt

with at the commencement of each session when both Houses

order that "the commissioner of police of the metropolis

shall keep the streets leading to Parliament House free

and open and ensure that no obstruction is permitted to

hinder Lords and Members in approaching the House".

Canada

The precincts have been defined by tradition

and practice rather than by legislation and there is no

strict definition of parliamentary precincts. They are

defined as the premises the Senate and the House of Commons

occupy for the exercise of their parliamentary duties.

The powers exercised within the precincts are

oriented toward enabling the Houses of Parliament to perform

their legislative functions. The powers are related to

section 18 of the Constitution Act 1867. The Canadian

Parliament has defined its powers, privileges and immunities

as those held by the British House of Commons at the time

of the establishment of the federation (in 1867). This

is contained in section 4 of the Senate and House of Commons

Act (R.S.C. 1970 C.5-8).

Problems have been encountered with the service

of legal documents and the interrogation and arrest of

persons. Outside police forces can only enter the precincts

with the permission of, or at the request of, the House

or the Speaker. The criminal law of Canada applies within

the precincts. ·>

6.

United States of America

The present precincts of the United States

Congress are defined by Public Law 570, 79th Congress,

and approved in 1946 but the precinct originally dates

from 1793 and has been updated as needed. The boundaries

are defined in terms of streets and roadways.

The Legislative Branch exercises sole authority

over the precincts but police authority has been specifically

defined as have certain responsibilities of the District

of Columbia for roadway and utility services located within

the precincts. The powers are defined by statute and are

changed by Act of Congress, proposed changes having been

considered by Congressional committees.

The Capitol Police Board, comprising the Serjeants-

at-Arms and the Architect of the Capitol, makes traffic

regulations and is responsible for all security, the latter

being co-ordinated with Executive Branch security forces.

There have been legal challenges to statutory

restrictions by persons who have felt the restrictions

were unconstitutional, and this has meant that particular

care is required in drafting proposed changes.

Israel

The precincts and authority of the Knesset

are defined in an Act of the Knesset. Authority is vested

in the Chairman of the Knesset who is able to take any

measure which appears to him to be necessary for the mainten­ ance of order and security.

High Court of Australia

The precincts of the High Court have been defined

and rules covering conduct have been made under the High

7.

Court of Australia Act 1979, and directions relating thereto

issued in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.

The Act makes provision for the precincts to

be altered by Proclamation. This makes allowance for any

difficulties which may occur in the future should the

operations of the High Court require extension of the

present premises. A similar provision exists to enable

the Clerk of the High Court to alter regulations covering

the conduct of persons within the precincts.

Authority is vested in the Clerk of the High

Court and the directions comprehensively deal with the

conduct of persons and the powers to deal with offenders.

National Gallery

Regulations made under the National Gallery

Act 1975 define the "Gallery building" and "Gallery land",

provide for the powers of security officers in the building

and on the gallery land, and lay down a monetary penalty

for offences.

PARLIAMENTARY ZONE

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