POLITICS

Not On A Roll, Turnbull Unmoved On Parliament Security

The last lawn rolls are getting underway.

15/12/2016 11:59 AM AEDT | Updated 21/12/2016 2:49 PM AEDT
Andrew Meares, Fairfax
Malcolm Turnbull says lawn fences are being erected based on the "best security advice."

CANBERRA -- Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has defended fast-tracked plans for a $60 million dollar security blitz at parliament house in Canberra – including a soon to be erected 2.6-metre fence across the iconic lawns on the roof -- ahead of a planned mass protest roll down on the grass.

In an interview with The Huffington Post Australia, Turnbull agreed with the principle that "parliament is the people's house," but said "getting that balance right" on security is "critically important".

Despite the designer, the now late Aldo Giurgola, creating the building specifically to allow visitors to walk over Australia's politicians at work, security agencies are increasingly concerned about the risk of a terror attack.

It's a top tourist attraction in Canberra and locals are now stepping up the light-hearted past time of rolling down the lawns. So much so, Canberran Lester Yao has gathered intense interest –- now in the thousands -- with a Facebook call for one last mass tumble on the carefully manicured green.

Yao describes the roll as a "simple fun action" which embodies a "powerful symbol of democracy," so HuffPost Australia asked the PM if the move is allowing terrorists to win.

"We obviously have to find the right balance between security and maintaining public access to our national parliament," Turnbull told HuffPost Australia.

Asked if the restrictive measure was overkill, Turnbull repeated: "It is getting the balance right."

"The parliament is the people's house, but it is important to get the balance right in terms of security measures, because you obviously you have to provide for all of the people who work there at parliament house and of course the visitors who come to parliament house of which there are many thousands."

An earlier proposal for a moat or "berm" was rejected, but parliamentarians -- except for the Greens and some crossbenchers -- accepted a security fence that will cut across the lawns and limit public access to the roof of parliament.

Architects have been scathing and security experts have been unimpressed, but Turnbull said parliament's presiding officers were acting on the "best security advice".

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