Australian senator smuggles ‘pipe bomb’ into parliament to show security risk
A veteran Australian senator has brought what he said could be a pipe bomb to the national parliament to demonstrate his view that new security regulations for the building are unsafe.
Senator Bill Heffernan, a member of the ruling conservative Liberal Party, held up the pipe yesterday and what appeared to be some sticks of dynamite during a committee hearing in Canberra.
"Clearly you can do what you bloody well like," said Heffernan, an outspoken former farmer who became a member of the national parliament in 1996.
Heffernan said until now most people working in parliament felt safe, but that new rules being trialled put this at risk by allowing some people with passes, including politicians, and their belongings to no longer be scanned on entry.
"I don't think it any longer is [safe] and to demonstrate that, this morning I brought in what could be, I brought this through security - a pipe bomb," he said placing the pipe on his desk, before pulling what were reportedly fake sticks of dynamite from a plastic shopping bag.
Heffernan said when he was a child, people used a combination of ammonium nitrate, distillate and gelignite and a detonator to fell trees.
"You would blow a tree the size of this building out of the ground," he said.
"At the present time there is nothing to stop anyone from bringing in those ingredients in here over a period of time through security."
Australian Federal Police commissioner Tony Negus, who was appearing before the committee, agreed. "Under the current arrangements, that is a risk," he said.
Negus later revealed that Heffernan had shown him the objects before the hearing. The police chief said that he was satisfied that they were inert.
The security changes introduced this month mean that those with photographic ID cards issued by the government are not screened with metal detectors or X-rays at private entry points, reports said.
Department of Parliamentary Services secretary Carol Mills told The Canberra Times that parliament still had higher security screening than state parliaments and most government offices in the nation's capital.