For the first time in Australian history, armed guards are protecting MPs and senators in both chambers of the Federal Parliament.
SMH (h/t Marina) The escalation of parliamentary security is part of the the second tranche of security changes put in place by the Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and Senate President Stephen Parry.
Fairfax Media has confirmed that several guards with guns are now stationed on the ground level of the House of Representatives and the Senate, in a glass-enclosed booth where the parliamentary audio visual department located.
The changes were put in place on Monday. From now on the highly-trained guards will be present whenever a member of the executive is present and on any other occasion it is deemed necessary for the guards to be in place. The executive includes Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his full ministry. Parliament is not allowed to sit without a member of the executive present.
Previously, members of a prime minister’s close personal protection detail were stationed in the glass-enclosed booth whenever the Prime Minister was in the chamber, but the detail was unarmed.
The changes come after Ms Bishop and Senator Parry introduced new security measures in September last year after the Islamic terrorism threat level was raised to high. Those changes included Australian Federal Police armed with assault rifles being stationed in plain sight both in and outside the chamber. Security was also handed over to the AFP.
A spokesman for Ms Bishop said “we don’t comment on the day to day operation of security in Parliament House” but did not deny the story.