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The one place lobbyists won’t replace public servants

Public servants attending meetings or working at Australian Parliament House won’t have to fight lobbyists for a precious car park.

The Department of Parliamentary Services has confirmed that lobbyists will remain banned from the secure and open air car parks at parliament house.

Park spots have become so hotly contested that a two reviews are being conducted to learn why they are full as early as 8am, and which groups can be culled from access.

Erin Noordeloos
Erin Noordeloos

Erin Noordeloos, DPS assistant secretary for the security branch, told an Estimates hearing yesterday it was a “mathematical conundrum” for the department: 5784 pass holders and only 1197 unreserved parking spots. A further 121 public servants who work in other agencies visit parliament so frequently they have been given their own Commonwealth photographic pass, allowing them access to the secure car parks too.

Noordeloos said they had seen a significant increase in use of the secure parking over the last six months, exacerbating the imbalance and sparking numerous complaints from workers:

“We do not have any direct causal evidence to say exactly where that additional usage has come from. I can only surmise that it is a combination of paid parking within the Parliamentary Triangle, changes to the street access within the local areas and introduction of paid parking at the front [public/visitor car park].”

An analysis of between pre and post implementation of the paid parking process found only a small increase in the number of parliamentary department staff using the private — free — parking, which the DPS has inferred to mean those pass holders were previously choosing to park in the visitor car park and once paid parking was implemented, decided to use the private car parks instead.

The parking policy review will also examine allocations for different government agencies within the building. The Parliament Budget Office was seen as having an overly generous allocation: six parking spots for 47 staff.

For now, sponsored pass holders — as known as lobbyists — are banned from the ministerial, House of Representatives and Senate car parks, but may pay for parking with tourists and other visitors in the public car park.

Author Bio

Harley Dennett

Harley Dennett is editor at The Mandarin based in Canberra. He's held communications roles in the New South Wales public sector and Defence, and been a staff reporter for newspapers in Sydney and Washington DC.