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Activities and achievements

In 2019–20 DPS implemented or progressed a number of innovations to better support the work of the Parliament, parliamentarians and the public. The following key achievements are tied to the strategic themes and intended results or deliverables articulated in our 2019–20 Corporate Plan.

Strategic theme 1 – Respond to the changing needs of the Parliament

Objective: Implement efficient and effective infrastructure, systems and services to respond to the changing needs of the Parliament and our parliamentarians.

  • The Cyber Security Operations Centre continued to mature and increase the Parliament’s ability to predict, detect, respond to and counter threats in increased levels of volume and sophistication.
  • An external consultancy was engaged to review practices within the Cyber Security Operations Centre. The process measured our maturity level and recommended enhancements and improvements to meet international standards and benchmarks.
  • A new and innovative cyber security awareness program—‘Classified’—was implemented
    2,959 cyber security investigations conducted as part of our detection and response activities.
    through a public-private partnership to change user behaviour in managing cyber threats. More than 500 staff attended the face to face weekly sessions and more than 1100 views were recorded for the online multimedia support materials. A total of 76 per cent of program participants rated the sessions as either valuable, very valuable or extremely valuable, and 92 per cent indicated they would recommend the program to a colleague. Importantly, the program achieved noticeable user behavioural change in responding to potential threats.
  • Monitoring services were implemented to alert parliamentarians and staff if their parliamentary email addresses or other identifiable information appeared on the dark web. Appropriate advice on recommended risk mitigation activities was provided to affected users.
  • COVID-19 physical distancing requirements and closed borders meant Parliamentary Broadcasting used existing video conferencing technologies in new ways. An enhanced
    Since COVID-19 restrictions… 82 video conference Parliamentary committee hearings have been delivered with 238 participants.
    capability was first used by the Senate Select Committee on COVID-19 to connect Senators and witnesses from all over Australia for urgent committee hearings. Video conferencing has become the new normal in the way we televise committee hearings, parliamentary meetings and departmental business.
  • Hansard processes were tailored and business continuity measures were implemented in response to COVID-19. These ensured services continued throughout the pandemic, and also enabled the majority of staff to work remotely when necessary.
  • The Microsoft Office 365 roll out commenced to parliamentarians and their staff. In 2019–20, 136 parliamentarians’ offices received the new operating system. Microsoft Office 365 improves mobility, enhances collaboration and provides remote access to information.
  • Increased remote ICT access capacity from a pre COVID-19 maximum of 200 to 2200 concurrent users.
    Following the release of the Australian Parliament Digital Strategy in 2019, the Information Services Division developed a series of digital road maps which outline the initiatives and supporting technology solutions that underpin the strategy.
  • APH Catering and Events maintained full Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points certification, meeting best practice industry food safety principles.
  • APH Catering and Events seamlessly transitioned to temporary food outlets, maintaining a high standard of food and beverage offerings while the kitchen refurbishment program was delivered.

Objective: Explore, develop and implement innovative technology and systems for the delivery of timely and secure information and services to the Parliament.

  • Streamlined technological processes were introduced for the 46th Parliament to accelerate network access and other ICT services. These use workflow and automation changes to replace paper forms and manual processes.
  • Onboarding parliamentarians and staff following the 2019 Australian federal election saw a surge in demand for ICT services from July to September 2019. During this period the Information Services Division:
    • responded to over 17,500 client contacts
    • completed 155 office re-configurations and relocations, and
    • issued more than 930 new devices as part of the onboarding process.
  • Several new and innovative services were also commissioned for the onboarding including:
    • an online webinar series
    • an eLearning service for parliamentarians and staff accessible anywhere on any device, and
    • a digital onboarding process to simplify engagement with services and improve the speed with which new parliamentarians could commence their representative duties.
  • Activities to improve secure delivery of network services within Parliament House and electorate offices included:
    • deploying network analysis and monitoring tools to provide greater security and performance, and
    • developing the Wide Area Network (WAN) transformation strategy and the network rationalisation strategy.
  • 40,988 pages of Hansard transcripts produced.
    A new cloud-based ICT system was developed to integrate live captions with Hansard services to parliamentarians. The system will provide greater flexibility in the way Hansard manages its workload and is expected to be implemented in early 2020–21.
  • Digital Recording Services Branch researched the feasibility of automatic speech recognition technology for live captioning services. The research results will be analysed in early 2020–21 and will inform procurement for live captioning services.
  • COVID-19 posed several challenges to users of the Parliament House ICT systems and the support required for the number of users who needed to work remotely. During the height of the pandemic, the Information Services Division expanded capacity of the existing remote access solution while developing and implementing a secure cloud-hosted remote access virtual desktop. The new capability provides a fast and scalable Windows 10 experience for users. Several new enhancements to cyber security capabilities were also delivered to support remote working arrangements.

Objective: Retain the Parliamentary Library's position as our clients' preferred and trusted source of high-quality information, analysis and advice.

  • The Library performed strongly against the client service Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set out in the Library Resource Agreement.
  • The Library’s services were used by all parliamentarians.
    Some 300 publications produced by the Parliamentary Library.
  • Some 300 research publications were released and over 11,400 client requests answered.
  • Outreach to new and returning senators, members and their staff was a priority throughout the year, but particularly over the first six months.
  • With the onset of the pandemic, the Library directed its resources to ensure continuity of service to the Parliament and refocused its publication program to provide targeted information and analysis to support the Parliament’s response to COVID-19.

Case study: DPS response to COVID-19

In March 2020, as a result of COVID-19, the Presiding Officers advised of temporary and precautionary changes to operations that resulted in closing the building to the public, while enabling the essential work of the Parliament to continue. For DPS, this meant making decisions in a rapidly changing, extremely unusual environment, where many employees and clients were experiencing high levels of anxiety.

The primary consideration was to ensure that the Parliament—and parliamentarians —could function effectively throughout the crisis. DPS worked with the Presiding Officers and other parliamentary departments to adapt critical functions so the pandemic did not hinder parliamentary operations. Despite myriad challenges, the Parliament sat on 23 March, 8 April, 12 to 14 May and 10 to 18 June to pass key legislation. In conjunction with our parliamentary department counterparts, we facilitated arrangements by implementing relevant hygiene measures, communicating pandemic related changes and maintaining high levels of flexibility to adapt to new situations as they arose.

The department was also responsible for the welfare of well over 2,000 building occupants, including approximately 1,000 DPS employees. We rapidly worked to identify those who were required on site, those who could work remotely, and those who could not perform their normal roles.

Of those who could not perform their normal roles, 55 people were redeployed to Services Australia (SA) to support the Government’s Job Seeker pandemic response. A satellite processing centre was established within Parliament House, providing additional space for SA and enabling seconded staff to attend their normal place of work. By ensuring DPS continued to perform its primary functions while protecting the wellbeing of staff, we ensured the Australian seat of government was not compromised during a significant global emergency.

Case study: Strengthening cyber security

Like all government and private organisations, DPS faces the challenge of providing a digital operating environment that is flexible enough to support the work of its users, but secure enough to protect the valuable information contained within it. In recent years, we have invested in major upgrades and improved our cyber security capability. This paid dividends in early February 2019 and late October 2019 when the Parliament House network and a number of other government agencies and organisations were targeted.

For the October incident, our Cyber Security Operations Centre leveraged intelligence from other government partners which—in conjunction with previous preparations and updated protection controls—meant many thousands of attempts to inject malware into the system were blocked. The sophistication of these attacks and the attractiveness of the parliamentary environment were highlighted when several parliamentary staffers were targeted through their personal email addresses in an attempt to bypass parliamentary network security controls.

While account holders were asked to stop using personal web email accounts on the parliamentary network for seven days, the incident heightened vigilance. Previous work to strengthen the network’s resilience to these attacks helped minimise disruption to the parliamentary network. Targeting individuals, rather than technical systems, also demonstrated the importance of individual personal responsibility in maintaining a secure environment. During October and November, we conducted a series of cyber security awareness activities, including training with parliamentarians and their staff. These activities are now regularly scheduled as part of an ongoing cyber security program.

It is important to acknowledge that our successful cyber resilience is also due to our important collaborative working relationship with our colleagues in the security and intelligence agencies, particularly the Australian Cyber Security Centre, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. As the threat landscape continues to evolve in its sophistication, we will continue with further investment to minimise our risks where possible.

Strategic theme 2 – Enhance the Parliament’s engagement with the community

Objective: Enhance our visitor experience and community engagement including the use of social media and emerging technologies.

  • The Art Collections section developed three exhibitions for the Presiding Officers' Exhibition Area during the year:
    • Indigenous Design Now
    • Alfred Deakin: Creating a Nation, and
    • Open AirLandscape photography from the Parliament House Art Collections.
  • Two other exhibitions were presented in the area and were curated by the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and the National Portrait Gallery.
  • In March, we continued our strong and vibrant relationship with the Canberra Enlighten Festival. Nine images from the Parliament House Art Collections were projected onto the building’s façade for the event. A projection slide is also commissioned each year for the façade of Parliament House and in 2020 Claudia Moodoonuthi’s work, DULKAWARNGIID—Bentinck Island 2019, was the highlight.
  • Our Art Collections section continued to collaborate with our communications and parliamentary engagement teams to develop strategies to enhance our online presence through the Parliament House website and increasing public access to the collection.
  • A highlight of the conservation maintenance program was successfully cleaning a suspended sculptural installation—Willy Willy by Maureen Cahill—which includes 18 glass panels suspended up to 11 metres above the floor. Conservation staff on an elevated work platform carefully manoeuvred between the glass ‘kites’ to remove many years of dust and to restore their luminous quality.
  • In October, the Presiding Officers unveiled the official portrait of the first Aboriginal woman to become a federal parliamentarian and senator, Nova Peris OAM. Created by Aboriginal artist Dr Jandamarra Cadd, the portrait was commissioned by DPS for Parliament’s Historic Memorials Collection.
  • We collaborated with the Canberra Region Joint Organisation (representing 10 council’s in South-East NSW) to support Australia’s fire-affected communities by sourcing our produce from these regions. This initiative culminated in a special degustation dinner as part of the Enlighten Festival. The menu was designed by our award-winning Executive Chef David Learmonth and prepared by his talented team.
  • Throughout the year we collaborated with Great Southern Rail to deliver a chef’s luncheon every Saturday over December and January that featured local regional food and wines.
  • We developed an innovative civics engagement program to help children better understand the work that supports the Parliament. We collaborated with the principal of Red Hill School in Wagga Wagga NSW to deliver an immersive experience which included a Kids in the Kitchen interactive chef encounter, planting with the landscape team, and time behind the camera with our broadcasting team.
  • Since COVID-19 restrictions… APH Catering and Events provided 9038 meals to St Vincent de Paul for Canberra’s needy. (April to 30 June)
    Our culinary team collaborated with St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn to provide thousands of meals to local vulnerable people during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
  • We also helped Canberra reveal its business meeting and event possibilities to a hand-picked group of event organisers as part of the annual Canberra Convention Bureau ‘Top Secret’ event program. This included hosting a gala dinner for delegates and industry colleagues who contribute to Canberra’s tourism and events industry.
  • As part of our Enlighten Festival activities in March, we also included a sold out degustation dinner event in the Members and Guests Dining Room.
  • We delivered a year-long program of events, exhibitions and public programs at Parliament House that were attended by more than 140,000 people. As part of our program we designed seasonal tours and activations like the Spring garden tours and Spring high teas in one of our courtyards.
  • We participated in joint cultural institution initiatives during the year including a free Culture Loop bus service.
  • We also worked with Visit Canberra to deliver the In Canberra initiative— a celebration of the cultural holdings of Australia—which was in place until the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The Parliament Shop continued to grow its product range, including through collaborations with our temporary exhibitions. The success of these was due to new, quality product lines and special events, including book signings with parliamentarians and guest appearances by popular local authors. Despite promising early figures, revenue for 2019–20 was down 19 per cent due to the COVID-19 related closure of Parliament House to the public.
  • Visitor numbers to Parliament House continued to increase for the first six months of 2019–20, including through:
    • tour and event participation by general visitors, and
    • more school visits.
  • The onset in December 2019 of the bushfires throughout Australia—and the subsequent smoke haze—resulted in a gradual decrease in visitors, which continued into February 2020. Just as visitor numbers increased again, February brought with it the early impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and the consequent travel restrictions which resulted in a dramatic downturn in visitation to Parliament House. Adjustments were progressively made to tours and services offered to visitors. Visitor numbers were restricted and physical distancing measures were implemented to protect staff and visitors. Eventually, the building was officially closed to the public at 5.00pm on 25 March 2020. As a result of these events in the second half of the financial year, the visitation target was not met for 2019–20.
  • DPS continued to receive strong positive feedback directly to staff and through the feedback cards handed out to visitors in the first six months of 2019–20. This feedback confirms the quality and relevance of our programs and customer service. It is also supported by a December TripAdvisor ranking for Parliament House of eighth out of the ‘254 things to do in Canberra’. The ranking is based on the quantity and quality of visitor reviews. The visitor satisfaction result up until December was 100 per cent.

Objective: Enhance electronic access to parliamentary information for the community to engage easily with the parliamentary process.

  • During the reporting period Parliamentary Broadcasting engaged with the Prime Minister’s office and the deaf community to include AUSLAN interpreters in broadcasts. These broadcasts occurred during critical health announcements and media conferences on COVID-19 by the Prime Minister, the Health Minister and the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer. AUSLAN signers interpreted live speeches which were presented to viewers with a superimposed frame on their screens during televised coverage.
  • Televised coverage and audio visual services were also provided for major events such as the:
    • Swearing-in of the Governor-General
    • opening of the 46th Parliament, and
    • state visits from the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, the Prime Minister of Fiji and the President of Indonesia.

Objective: Champion opportunities for international parliamentary strengthening.

  • DPS continued to contribute to the Five-Eyes parliament cyber security alliance, which includes the parliaments of the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. The initiative is now in its fourth year and the alliance continues to share anonymised threat intelligence and best practices to mitigate cyber threats common to the group. The alliance is also collaborating and sharing information on developing secure remote working practices in the wake of COVID-19.
  • The Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum was held in Parliament House over three days in January, with more than 300 delegates from across the region. These important sessions were produced, recorded and televised by Parliamentary Broadcasting.
  • The Information Services Division provided significant ICT equipment and support to the forum. A range of equipment and services were also provided to volunteers supporting the program, international delegates and presenters. This included establishing a temporary internet café during the conference to allow delegates to conduct business within Parliament House.
  • Commonwealth Hansard representatives attended the 39th conference of the Australasian and Pacific Hansard Editors Association at the Parliament of New South Wales from 28 to 30 January. Representatives attended from:
    • Cook Islands, New Zealand, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – all Australian states and territories, and
    • the Hansard offices in Westminster and Edinburgh.
  • The conference was opened by the President of the Legislative Council and closed by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. Despite the smoke haze engulfing the east coast of Australia from the season’s fires—and representatives from Fiji being prevented from attending due to early COVID-19 travel restrictions in Fiji—the conference provided excellent networking and information sharing opportunities for participants, and reinforced the strong ties between Hansard offices in the region.

Case study: Enlighten Festival

Exploring Parliament House during the annual Enlighten Festival is a unique opportunity to engage with parliamentary democracy and the building. Viewing the art collection as an illumination, going under the building, or practising yoga on the lawns are all experiences the festival promotes as ways to connect with Australia’s pre-eminent symbol of parliamentary democracy.

In 2020 the festival faced some unusual challenges as Canberra came to grips with COVID-19, a summer of devastating bushfires and stifling smoke. The cancellation of Canberra’s Skyfire fireworks meant visitors could not view the spectacle from the Parliament House lawns, but our Executive Chef’s degustation experience in the Members and Guests Dining Room was a resounding success.

Parliament House remains an important part of the ACT’s tourism landscape and working in partnership with the local government and other cultural institutions and organisations is a focus for our public experience teams. Enlighten is also an important vehicle for public engagement at Parliament House. In 2020 we were able to build on the previous years’ success, selling out all paid events and hosting a range of other free experiences that attracted local and interstate crowds.

Enlighten began just as COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. As Australia grapples with how major public events will be staged in the future, we will continue to work closely with Canberra’s cultural institutions to find ways of bringing programs and events to the community. The unique aspects of Parliament House are strong draw-cards that serve as gateways to engagement with other aspects of the building, and the role of parliamentary democracy in Australia.

Case study: Alfred Deakin: Creating a Nation Exhibition

Promoting an understanding of how historic events shape Australia’s modern parliamentary democracy is an important focus for the department. In 2019, to mark the centenary of his death, DPS staged a significant exhibition on Australia’s second Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, who served as prime minister three times and who was also Australia’s first Attorney-General.

The exhibition was made possible by the generous loan of personal items from the Deakin family and several cultural and lending institutions. A key focus was to explore how decisions made by Deakin—such as establishing an Australian defence policy and introducing the legislation to establish a site for the new capital—continue to have an impact on our day-to-day lives. It also explored some lesser-known facts about the former journalist, including that while he was serving as Australia’s prime minister, he used a nom de plume to write a weekly column for the London Morning Post on Australian life and politics. This fact was not known by members of the Press Gallery when, at the conclusion of his second term as prime minister, they presented him with the silver inkstand that forms part of the exhibition.

Bringing such stories to life helps new generations of Australians—and visitors to our country—understand how Parliament has developed over time. Each year Parliament House hosts a range of exhibitions, events and activities which draw thousands of tourists through the doors. The range and scope of these materials mean that each person who visits the building will leave having engaged with Parliament and Australia’s parliamentary system in a new and interesting way.

In celebrating the life and achievements of Alfred Deakin, the exhibition has been able to tell a broader story about the Commonwealth of Australia and the drafting of its constitution which makes it more accessible to modern Australia. Being able to do so in the same place where politicians continue to build the nation’s democratic tradition is a unique experience in Australia that will continue to underpin how DPS enhances the Parliament’s engagement with the community.

Strategic theme 3 – Effective Stewardship of Australian Parliament House

Objective: Ensure adaptations of the building's uses are strategic, appropriate and reference design integrity principles.

  • In April 2019 the Secretary launched the DPS Framework for the Maintenance of Design Integrity of Parliament House. The framework has been used during the period to provide for an integrated consultative approach, ensuring the design team members and moral right administrators are included at the right times, as well as giving our people clarity and practical assistance when managing building and design projects. A critical piece of this framework is the completion of the Central Reference Document which is the Architect’s design intent for Parliament House. The joint moral rights administrators for Parliament House—Ms Pamille Berg AO Hon FRAIA and Mr Harold Guida LFRAIA AIA—have collaborated and almost completed the first phase of the Central Reference Document project. Ms Berg and Mr Guida were nominated as joint moral rights administrators by the building’s Architect, the late Romaldo Giurgola AO LFRAIA AIA.

Objective: Ensure a secure environment while maintaining public accessibility.

The physical security upgrade project was completed during the year marking the end of the most complex security investment in the building’s history. In the late stages this involved finalising:

  • works to the external perimeter, including the installation of turnstiles to the House of Representatives and Senate pedestrian stairwell entries
  • additional security measures at the Senate and the House of Representative entrances, with the removal of the temporary entrances in August
  • additional security measures at the main front ceremonial and public entrances, and
  • various security system enhancements.

The upgrades ensure that the building is secure for the long term, without affecting ease of access to the public areas.

Objective: Maintain Parliament House and its precinct as befits its status as an iconic building and location of national significance.

  • Ongoing and close collaboration was undertaken during the year on a range of building issues and capital works projects. These included:
    • kitchens
    • auxiliary power
    • swimming pool maintenance
    • packaged air conditioning, and
    • ongoing and direct involvement in managing the Australian Parliament House response to COVID-19, including cleaning and signage.

The building's maintenance team implemented a successful response to COVID-19. As well as identifying, arranging and managing new operational and staff arrangements in response to the pandemic, the team was able to deliver service requirements with minimal impact on the maintenance service charter and building occupants. This included:

  • establishing a number of new contracts, including:
    • heating, ventilation and air conditioning cleaning
    • boiler and chiller maintenance
    • automatic door maintenance
    • pest control, and
    • manufacturing and repairing flags.
  • 34 additional air quality tests were conducted in Parliament House in January and February in response to bushfires near Canberra.
    responding to building air quality impacts resulting from bushfire events and associated smoke haze around the Australian Capital Territory. This included managing air quality within the building, which included operating the air conditioning system continuously for various periods and undertaking regular indoor air monitoring across Parliament House and the Minter Ellison building (which accommodates approximately 85 DPS staff)
  • propagating and growing about 450 native plants and 300 native Lomandra grasses (including sourcing some seed on site) to help revegetate approximately 12,000m2 of native peripheral garden
  • investing 407 hours on the Senate ‘West Bank’ revegetation project and 97 hours on further plantings in the Ministerial and House of Representatives native gardens. About 340m3 of mulch was used across these areas
  • reinstating the garden bed around the Ewa Pachuka fossilised landscape sculpture. This included planting 480 Festucas glauca grass plants, renewing soil and repairing irrigation, and
  • reinstating the condition of the landscaping around the House of Representatives and Senate entrances following security upgrades.

Case study: Architect’s design intent for Parliament House, Canberra: Central Reference Document

This financial year saw the first phase of the Architect’s Design Intent for Parliament House, Canberra: Central Reference Document almost completed. The work is being undertaken by Ms Pamille Berg AO Hon FRAIA with assistance from Mr Hal Guida LFRAIA AIA, and supported by the Design Integrity and Special Collections Unit. As joint administrators of the moral rights of Mr Romaldo Giurgola AO LFRAIA AIA in the design of Australian Parliament House—and original design team members— Ms Berg and Mr Guida are uniquely qualified to provide ongoing advice to the department. They have undertaken this important project to create a permanent record of the architect’s design intent, which had remained incomplete since 2004 and was resumed in 2016.

The Central Reference Document will comprehensively detail the architect’s design intent for Parliament House across its major spaces, administrative areas, furniture, furnishings and the commissioned art and craft program. It will also address, among other things, the architect’s responses to symbolism within the building, how Parliament House’s design references Walter Burley Griffin’s design for Canberra, and sustainability issues.

The project has been a major undertaking over several years. The result will be a distillation of the architect’s design intent from the many hundreds of thousands of records — found in various locations — documenting the building’s design and construction during the 1980s. It will be an invaluable and enduring resource for the building custodians. Over the next financial year the department will work with Ms Berg to produce the Central Reference Document in an e-book format.

Since 2016, and in conjunction with the Central Reference Document, Ms Berg and Mr Guida have given eight presentations to parliamentary staff on key design features and important spaces. These presentations delved deeply into the painstaking creative processes underpinning the building’s design. They also provided valuable reflections and anecdotes about what it was like working on the ‘New and Permanent Parliament House’ project during the 1980s.

Case study: New Apprenticeship Program

Maintaining a building that is a workplace, tourist attraction and seat of government requires a diverse workforce with a range of skill sets, including specialised trades and vocational professions. In 2019 DPS established an apprenticeship program to address enterprise risks associated with building maintenance services. Risks included the difficulty of attracting trade-related skills and mature workforce. Succession planning is particularly important, as many of the workers who began their careers in the new building 30 years ago are now reaching retirement age.

Creating an entry-level pathway that enables DPS to recruit a new demographic is critical to ensuring the workforce has the skills and knowledge needed for the building to operate effectively for its aspirational lifespan of 200 years. Some features of the building, including the extensive use of stone and copper pipes, require specialist skills for which training is limited or no longer available. Bringing new apprentices into the building enables them to learn their trade, develop specialist skills and build their experience so services remain seamless and consistent for future generations.

Apprentices at Parliament House are exposed to a wide range of work they may not get to experience as part of a typical program. For example, the DPS plumbing team is responsible for maintaining a 25-metre swimming pool, internal and external water features, a back-up pump system, and an extensive landscape irrigation system. The first intake of apprentices has six participants across a range of trades, from sports turf management to carpenters, electricians and horticulture. The program is designed to maintain corporate knowledge and practices, while shaping internal specialist skills. This, combined with the design integrity considerations of Parliament House, is an integral driver for implementing the apprenticeship program as a DPS career pathway.

Strategic theme 4 – Effective delivery of the Parliament House works program

Objective: Manage a capital works plan for Parliament House to function effectively as a safe and accessible workplace.

The capital works program is delivering better infrastructure and safety across Parliament House. Key achievements in 2019–20 include:

  • completing work to refurbish and upgrade the main production kitchen, schools and hospitality area, and the Great Hall kitchen and bar. Work to refurbish the Staff Dining Room, Queens Terrace Café, and Members and Guests Dining Room kitchens commenced during the reporting period and expected to be completed by December 2020
  • refurbishing a further 12 of 42 lifts
  • replacing 255 electrical distribution boards, bringing the total number replaced to 328 out of a total of 786
  • replacing a further 22 out of 29 mechanical services switchboards, and
  • commencing work to replace the auxiliary power diesel generator system.

Objective: Deliver a security upgrade capital works program that is consistent with the Security Upgrade Implementation Plan, that achieves appropriate risk mitigation, and that meets the needs of the Parliament.

The Parliament House security upgrade project reached practical completion in May 2020. Electronic systems are now being managed under an Electronic Security Services maintenance contract. Some minor additions and modifications following completion are still underway to fully realise the project’s objectives, and these are expected to be completed by December 2020.

Case study: Upgraded infrastructure

DPS commenced operating a catering and events business in December 2016 after many years of contracted services. While hospitality service providers doubted the likelihood of success, we have rapidly developed a well-deserved reputation for excellence in catering and food service. However in the 30 years since the building began operations, food safety and work, health and safety requirements have changed dramatically. While DPS maintains food safety accreditation in line with international industry standards, in 2019 we began a major works project to:

  • update and upgrade catering facilities to increase the efficiency and capacity of each kitchen
  • replace obsolete, energy-inefficient equipment
  • improve the productivity of the kitchens and, most importantly,
  • ensure compliance with food safety and contemporary work, health and safety requirements.

While much of the work could be done out of the public eye with minimal disruption to parliamentarians or visitors, this was not possible for the upgrades to the Staff Dining Room or Queen’s Terrace Café. When COVID-19 resulted in Parliament House closing to the public, the opportunity was taken to bring forward major aspects of the project, with these two key elements commencing during the reporting period.

The timing of the project could not have been better planned. Various latent conditions were discovered such as significant blockages and corrosion to waste drainage in some areas. Preventative replacement of these services has avoided significant damage and disruption that would have inevitably occured.

Accelerating the program for all Parliament House kitchens and associated infrastructure has reduced the level of inconvenience to building occupants. It is anticipated that the works, which also include refurbishing the Members and Guests Dining Room kitchen, will now be completed by the end of 2020, which is ahead of the original schedule.

Case study: Physical security upgrades

The past two decades have seen enormous changes to Australia’s security landscape. In 2015 a major works project began to upgrade the security perimeter and bolster the physical security of Parliament House. This has been the largest and most complex security investment in the building’s history, and work was completed in late 2019. The final project elements included upgrades to the main front entry and ceremonial doors, and the Senate and House of Representatives entrances.

The project was not without its challenges, and work was delayed in the previous reporting period when the managing contractor advised that one of the subcontractors had performance and financial issues. The department worked closely with the managing contractor to resume progress on this aspect of the works as quickly as possible, and completed this element in August 2019, within the revised timeframe. At all times, the department was committed to:

  • understanding the impacts of any delays
  • developing solutions to address issues
  • completing projects with minimal disruption, and
  • ensuring work was delivered effectively.

Parliament House was designed and built at a time when the security threat environment was low. In delivering this significant security upgrade all steps were taken to maintain the building’s design integrity to the greatest extent possible. Work involved upgrading skylights, windows, entry-ways and the ceremonial doors which form the backdrop to many of Parliament’s key events. Ensuring we implemented best security practices without compromising the design elements of these key features has been an important aspect of the work.