CANBERRA -- Wondering what was happening with multi-million dollar plans to construct an imposing 2.6 metre security fence over Parliament House in Canberra?
After being announced as counter-terror measure in December and leading to a peaceful protest of hundreds rolling down the lawn, it was supposed to be fast-tracked over summer. Last summer, that is.
Construction is just about to start with temporary fencing erected a few days ago warning of a 'construction site'.
Since construction in the 1980s, Canberrans and countless visitors have rolled, strolled and run down the Kentucky bluegrass ramps of Parliament House.
It is what the architect, Romaldo Giurgola, wanted. The people walking over the nation's politicians. It is they who work for us.
Now, access to the front lawn is being blocked off.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) repleased a statement:
"The public will continue to be able to access a significant amount of the grassed area on the northern side of the building. The ongoing commentary that people will be no longer able to roll down the grass ramps is therefore misleading.
The public has not been able to walk up the grass ramps and right over the top of Parliament House for 11 years since the existing fences were erected on security grounds in 2005. The principal architect for Parliament House, Mr Romaldo Giurgola was directly involved in the design of those fences."
Senate President Stephen Parry told a Senate estimates hearing last month that the work would completely block access to the grass across the front of the building during the construction period.
In May, construction equipment and demountable buildings were placed in readiness at the ministerial back entrance.
"@elliemail: BLOODY AWESOME
⚡️ "Hundreds roll down Parliament House before lawn is fenced off"https://t.co/XxpZ6ZT1kT" go Canberra
— Terry Walls (@TerryWalls7) December 17, 2016
A few government MP and Senators have sided with architects in being unhappy about the security upgrade, but in an interview with HuffPost Australia in December, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull defended the security blitz, saying "getting that balance right" on security is "critically important" and said parliament's presiding officers were acting on the "best security advice".
After the permanent fence is erected, people will get access to the top of Parliament House via lifts and the look of the fence will be lessened through a judicious use of hedges.
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