Aussies wanting to observe democracy in action in their Parliament House in Canberra are put through humiliating and demeaning extra scanning processes which are set to ridiculously high trigger levels. And don’t even ask if you’re allowed to take notes – you’ll be surprised by the number of answers you get!

90% forced to de-shoe for pollies

 Perhaps we need a security screening system in Canberra like the one shown in this advertisement for an employment company in Germany.

 When you go to Parliament House in Canberra hoping to see democracy in action, what you get is a major dose of authoritarianism and elitism by your representative, the Member of Parliament whom you voted in.

 At the entrance to Parliament, you go through a screening device. Normal security procedure, which is fine. After that, you are free to walk in any of the public areas of Parliament House.

 BUT, if you want to go into the actual House of Representatives, where your representative is representing you, you have to pass through a second screening that is so bad, most people fail first time, some second time and some even fail a third time. By the time they are allowed in, the vast majority of people are at least partially undressed and extremely embarrassed.

 The Parliament, through its scanning machine settings and its security guards, actively humiliates people. It is a very demeaning process.

 90% of people fail the screening to be allowed into the PUBLIC galleries of the chamber of the House of Representatives, security guards told CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman when she was pulled up by the scanner and forced to go through three times.

 After failing the first time, you remove your shoes. Fail again.

 Then you remove your belt. Fail again.

 Then you remove a pen from your pocket, or a clip, or a badge or some other tiny accoutrement, and you may – with luck – be allowed into the House that you built with your taxes, where your representatives is speaking on your behalf.

 Not only are the secondary screening machines to enter the chamber of the House of Representatives set to a ridiculously sensitive level, the security guards don’t know what they are doing…or at least that was certainly CLA’s experience.  They seem to make up rules as they go along.

 CLA was told the following, by three different security guards within a three-minute period in the location of the screening machine:

  •  You are not allowed to take a notebook and pen/pencil into the chamber;
  • You may take a notebook and pen/pencil in, but you are not allowed to take notes.
  • You may take a notebook and pen/pencil in, but you can only take brief notes: you are not permitted to take verbatim notes.

ALL three of the above bits of advice are WRONG.

 You are graciously permitted by your Representatives, whose salary you pay, to take a pen/pencil and notebook in, and you are permitted to record their every word.

 CLA found that out when we complained. But how many people are prepared to complain: most first-time visitors will simply and meekly accept the appalling “customer” (that is, taxpayer) “service” provided in Australia’s Parliament, and leave with a bad experience of the building, the system and Australian democracy.

 Why does nobody know about how visitors to Parliament are put through scanning procedures as if in a high-security prison?

 Well, most ‘professionals’ don’t go into the chamber via the public gallery entrance.

 MPs have their own entrance, and no security of course. The media don’t have to go through the public humiliation entry point, or secondary security. And CLA only tried to go through because we had half an hour to fill in between appointments…with politicians.

 By the way, we gave up trying to watch democracy in action, “live”. There’s only so much unnecessary humiliation and downright ignorant security “advice” you can put up with. The Australian Parliament is a place which actively repels its citizens from observing democracy.

 We suggest, strongly, that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the President of the Senate, themselves try to go through the security screening farce in the same way a member of the public would have to. We bet there would be instant change if they sample their own belittling mistreatment for themselves.

 When Civil Liberties Australia complained to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, this is the reply we got » …

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One Comment

  1. I agree that the procedures are absurd. I remember well the slack old days when you could walk up the front steps (of the old building), mix with the politicians in King’s Hall, and go into the gallery, all without any apparent screening at all. Things have gone from one extreme to another.

    But- I went into the Reps gallery this week and was the only one let in without removing my belt or shoes. If I knew the secret I’d let you all know.


    David Morrison

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