Australia Is Going To ~Build A Wall~ Around Parliament House

    "It's like putting barbed wire around the Opera House."

    Australian politicians have taken a leaf out of Donald Trump's book and voted to seal off the sloping grass roof of Parliament House with a 2.6-metre fence.

    Alan Porritt / AAPIMAGE

    The iconic grass hills were designed by architect Romaldo Giurgola to allow the public to walk over the heads of their elected representatives to symbolise true democracy. They're also a lot of fun to roll down.

    But they're set to be sealed off behind a 2.6-metre steel barrier after security agencies became worried they left the building vulnerable to a terrorist attack.

    Justice Party senator Derryn Hinch is outraged by the changes, saying "it's like putting barbed wire around the Opera House".

    Hinch and the Greens were the only parties to oppose the security upgrade.

    “It’s the people’s parliament, but politicians from the old parties are taking more and more steps to keep the people out,” Greens MP Adam Bandt told BuzzFeed News.

    “Instead of acting in the public interest, they’re shutting the public out.”

    Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith said on Thursday that the changes would involve "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 cameras".

    There will be 38 additional CCTV cameras and turnstiles erected at the House of Representatives and Senate entrances to closely monitor people coming in and out.

    "Parliament House has always rightly been known as the people's house and the committee was mindful of balancing the security of Parliament House with the open access to Parliament House by all people," he said.

    "It's important to acknowledge these works do have an impact on the original design of Parliament House. However it's also important to acknowledge the world has changed since the original design brief for Parliament House was created in the late 1970s."

    Smith said the alterations won't change how the public enters the building and won't restrict access to the roof of the building.

    "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 Parliament House for 11 years, since the original fences were erected on security grounds in 2005."

    There will be no changes to the authorised protest assembly area outside the front of the building.

    A 2015 document prepared by the Department of Parliamentary Services said "security agency advice was unequivocal that a fence for that part of the precinct was absolutely vital to provide an appropriate security layer", Fairfax reported.

    The changes are in addition to the $110 million spent on security since 2014, when a 2.6-metre fence was built around the ministerial entrance and bulletproof windows were installed on the outside wing of the building.

    By coincidence, the changes were voted through on the same day protesters scaled the front of the building to unfurl a banner that said "close the bloody camps now" and poured red dye into the fountain, and a day after protesters interrupted Question Time.

    Calling for politicians to close Australia's offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru, the protesters said, "We are here today to tell every single one of you that you are all complicit."

    There was also a peaceful protest outside parliament on Thursday, calling for marijuana to be legalised.

    Just what we need on last day of parliament - a giant spliff. #qt #auspol

    Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

    Contact Alice Workman at

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