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Sep 2, 2004

War on Terror hits Parliament

The war on terror has hit Parliament in another security farce, as Hugo Kelly explains.

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The war on terror has hit Parliament in another security farce, as Hugo Kelly explains.

As you read this, dear subscriber, spare a thought for press
gallery heavyweights Laurie Oakes and Paul Bongiorno who, at this
moment, are making their weary way home after becoming the latest
victims in the War on Terror.

The Sphere of Influence and
The Bonge were two of many parliament house residents whose cars were
trapped in the Senate carpark all day and well into the night after
zealous parliamentary security operatives mistook a Seven Network crew
car for dangerous unexploded device. We kid you not.

The
Seven vehicle – containing the kind of equipment TV networks need to
cover election campaigns – was cordoned off around lunchtime, as the
following emails from the Usher of the Black Rod outline.

Crikey is reliably informed the vehicle contained nothing more harmless than Seven political correspondent Mark Riley’s lunch.

Still,
security in Parliament is nothing if not dogged. So some 400 parliament
house staff had their cars impounded as Parliament’s crack squad of
highly trained security operatives (ie: coppers on bicycles) swarmed
around the suspicious vehicle.

The whole exercise took some
eight long hours. Which does seem a tad like overkill. Oakes and
Bongiorno were among those unlucky enough to park their cars on Level 1
– the last level to be cleared for safe take-off.

Read the following email trail, and sleep safe, knowing the People’s House is in good, secure, hands:

—–Original Message—–
From: Donaldson, Helen (SEN) On Behalf Of Usher of the Black Rod (SEN)
Sent: Thursday, 2 September 2004 12:13 PM
To: SEN-Department; SEN-Senators; SEN-SenStaff; DPS-Department
Subject: The Senate entrance and car parks are closed until further notice
Importance: High

The
bomb detection dog patrol has detected a suspicious vehicle in the
Senate car park. The AFP bomb squad is in attendance and until they are
satisfied that there is no danger no one will be allowed to access the
senators or staff car parks. The Senate entrance is also closed for the
same reason.

Further advice will be sent by email as soon as it is received by this office.

Helen Donaldson
Deputy Usher of the Black Rod
Tel. (02) 6277 xxxx

—–Original Message—–
From: Donaldson, Helen (SEN) On Behalf Of Usher of the Black Rod (SEN)
Sent: Thursday, 2 September 2004 1:25 PM
To: SEN-Department; SEN-Senators; SEN-SenStaff; DPS-Department
Subject: Update on access to the Senate entrance and car parks
Importance: High

The latest advice is that the Senate car parks will be closed for at least another hour.

Helen Donaldson
Deputy Usher of the Black Rod
Tel. (02) 6277 xxxx

—–Original Message—–
From: Donaldson, Helen (SEN) On Behalf Of Usher of the Black Rod (SEN)
Sent: Thursday, 2 September 2004 2:57 PM
To: SEN-Department; SEN-Senators; SEN-SenStaff; DPS-Department
Subject: Further update on the closure of the Senate entrance and car parks
Importance: High

The
AFP’s investigation of the vehicle is continuing and advice has now
been received that the closure will continue for at least another two
hours.

There is no way to know at this stage when this
situation will be over. Given the latest advice, anyone who has an
appointment or commitments such as collecting children before a certain
time, may wish to make alternative arrangements in case the situation
continues beyond two hours.

If making arrangements to be
picked up, please note that the Main Front, Ministerial and House of
Representatives entrances are unaffected by the current situation.

Helen Donaldson
Deputy Usher of the Black Rod
Tel. (02) 6277 xxxx

And finally, staff were advised that the War on Terror had drawn to an end on carpark levels 2,3,4

(However, sadly for Messrs Oakes, Bongiorno & Co, War on Terror was still waging on level 1. ie: important people’s cars)

—–Original Message—–
From: Donaldson, Helen (SEN) On Behalf Of Usher of the Black Rod (SEN)
Sent: Thursday, 2 September 2004 4:58 PM
To: SEN-Department; SEN-Senators; SEN-SenStaff; DPS-Department
Subject: Progress report on Senate car parks
Importance: High

Cars in the Senators’ car park may now be moved.

Cars on levels 2, 3 and 4 of the Senate car park may be moved from 5.20 pm.

Cars on Level 1 will not be accessible until at least 8pm.

Helen Donaldson
Deputy Usher of the Black Rod
Tel. (02) 6277 xxxx

CRIKEY: This all reminds us eerily of the famous Bicycle Terror Threat of 2002:
http://www.crikey.com.au/politics/2002/10/30-bicylclethreat.html

Case rested. And a nation breathes easy:

Subject: Security incident 2 September 2004

On Thursday 2 September 2004, an AFP explosive detection dog team
conducting a routine sweep of the Senate carpark repeatedly indicated a
positive response to a vehicle parked on the 1st level. AFP
officers conducted a visual inspection of the vehicle and a Bomb
Appraisal Officer (BAO) was called for.

Security personnel located and interviewed the driver of the vehicle.

The BAO inspected the vehicle and noted the contents before requesting
assistance from the AFP Bomb Squad. The AFP Bomb Squad subsequently
examined the vehicle and assessing that a credible threat existed,
closed the western (Senate) side of Senate Parliament Drive to traffic
at 12.20pm. The AFP Bomb Squad then commenced operations to clear
the vehicle in accordance with their established response protocol.

At 5.20pm, building occupants were permitted to recover vehicles from
the 2nd, 3rd and 4th levels of the carpark and to leave the carpark
under the direction of the AFP. The AFP Bomb Squad continued
operations, declaring the vehicle clear at about midnight. An AFP
Forensic Unit then examined the vehicle and surrounding area before the
carpark was re-opened at 1.25am. Forensic testing has found nothing
conclusive at this stage and we are awaiting further advice.

The incident caused considerable disruption to building occupants
and also to people seeking to access the building via the Senate
entrance. The response by most building occupants was supportive
and cooperative and we are grateful for your patience.

I would like to express my personal thanks to the security staff, both
PSS and AFP, for their calm and measured response to a very difficult
situation.

Hilary Penfold
Chair, Security Management Board

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