As pollies prepare to return to Canberra, the
inhabitants of Parliament House are still wading through the latest security
, on the conversion of Parliament
Drive to a one way road.

The change begins on 22 August. Why?
Parliament goes back on the 8th. The work could and should have been done
over the winter recess – although the real question is why it is being done at

Even on sitting days – and there are less
than 80 this year – Parliament
Drive has to be one of the
quietest roads in Canberra. The closest thing to a rush hour occurs when Members and Senators
take to the big white cars when the houses rise each evening. This appears to be yet another consequence
of ill considered security.

Parliament House was designed with slip
roads for dropping off and collecting passengers. These have been blocked with
bollards. Most people now have to use Parliament Drive. The move has created a small traffic
problem that is being given an expensive fix – and seems set to create new
security problems.

A look at the new layout shows that there
will now be multiple narrow points on Parliament Drive that could be blocked. The next truckies’ blockade will be
able to close the whole building off easily. Terrorists also could.

Inhabitants of Parliament House are yet
again scratching their heads over the logic of the Secretary of the Department
of Parliamentary Services, Hilary Penfold – and the acquiescence of the Speaker
and the President of the Senate.

This appears to be a bizarre and expensive
solution to what could have been achieved by improved road marking and perhaps
some slight road widening by the car park entrances.

A one way system will effectively double
the traffic passing each car park entrance. Most drivers will be obliged to pass
an entrance they do not wish to use at least once to get to their car park or
further destination. Curiously and illogically, the proposal will also increase
the speed limit from 40 to 50 km/hr, even though a further circular has warned
Parliament House occupants that the ACT Police have been forced to make regular
patrols on Parliament Drive because of drivers speeding and ignoring stop

All this, of course, is meaningless to the
wider community – but here it is. Perverse policy and indulgent waste at the
very centre of government.

The one way traffic system has provoked
plenty of comment from within Parliament House – and plenty of speculation that
it will be reversed or need major modifications within a short time. A few
hundred grands worth. But what’s that to the pencil pushers who run the pollies’

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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