$8m security for Beehive   20 Jul 2004

The $43 million Beehive refit will run $8 million over budget after officials decided to add anti-terrorism security features.

The spending – to build a new single entrance to Parliament House and the Beehive and beef up mailroom security – was revealed in a select committee report earlier this week.

Amid fears an explosive device could be delivered to Parliament, the mail-sorting area will be moved from the centre of Parliament House to an area on the west side. Extra screening devices and X-ray equipment will be installed.

No provision was made for the new security projects in the original refit plans outlined to the public more than a year before the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Speaker Jonathan Hunt has told MPs that, while the original refit was on-budget and ahead of schedule, a decision had been made to introduce the extra security.

The two new projects have caused a six-month delay in calling for tenders to do the work because of "design issues and consultation".

The report by the government administration committee – comprised of just three Labour and two National MPs – says most of the design changes are in response to "heightened security concerns".

They include building a new entrance to the Beehive and Parliament House in the alleyway that divides the buildings. It will serve as the public entry point into either building as officials are concerned visitors have to queue in the cold.

"[Hunt] expects these changes to result in a $7 to $8 million cost increase," the committee’s report says.

NZ First leader Winston Peters said last night he had no idea about the $8 million extra spending. "We were never told a thing about this and nor has the public. But any potential expenditure should be told to the public, I believe."

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