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28 February 2012 / leggypeggy

I’ve identified the security culprit

Australia's Parliament House (the building with the tall flagpole) viewed from across Lake Burley Griffin

Twice in the last 10 days, I’ve been stopped by security at Australia’s Parliament House in Canberra. Both times we had gone up for the daily afternoon Question Time in the House of Representatives.

The first time, we popped up on the spur of the moment, but today we planned ahead and booked in advance. We wanted to see some of the aftermath of the not-as-bloody-as-expected leadership challenge that took place yesterday.

Question Time can be pretty fiery on any day. The Members of Parliament are always trying to outmanoeuvre one another, and mud-slinging, name-calling and shouting are all part of the package. It’s a spectacle worth seeing.

But security is especially rigorous. You go through a detector at the front door, and then a second one right at the entrance to the actual House of Reps. This second detector is über sensitive and you have to empty your pockets, take off your shoes, and check your camera, phone and other electronics. We know this, so always go empty-handed except for the car keys and a plastic driver’s licence for ID.

So why do I always set off the alarms?

Last week, they let me through after a body scan. I sort of figured that my watch or the stud button and zipper on my shorts had set it off. So today I wore shorts with an elastic waistband and no zips or studs. But the alarm blared again. They had me take off my watch, but I still tripped the alarm. So another body scan, and another all-clear to go in.

‘This is ridiculous. Why does this happen?’, I said to the fellow doing the scan. He leaned forward and quietly said, ‘just so you know, I think it’s your bra straps.’

Still trying to figure out how I’ll deal with the next visit. Braless ain’t gonna happen.

11 Comments

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  1. Derrick / Feb 28 2012 11:37 pm

    It does depend on the settings of these scanners, they can be adjusted for sensitivity, I suppose it depends on the security risk

    (I would imagine everyone would like to have a pop at a politician, but not nessersarily shoot em, some do deserve it though, sometimes)

    I suppose a sports bra might prove usefull, no clips on them (so I am told 🙂 )

    (I have set them off because of shrapnel I carry inside me, no big deal, but the eyebrows do raise a little)

    I dont have to go anywhewre to see a row, name calling, fights, general hullabo, I see it most days down my street when the Shia’s and Shi-ites kick off (usually over their kids) it can be quite entertaining, especially when the flip flops fly

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    • leggypeggy / Feb 28 2012 11:43 pm

      Ah, yes, a sports bra would do, but I think I’ll resist. It’s all rather funny.

      Had to laugh at your mention of the Shia/Shi-ite conflicts up the road from you. What’s new?

      As an aside, please remember that the Aussie word for flip-flops is thongs. I know it grates, but you’ll just have to deal with it.

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      • Derrick / Feb 28 2012 11:49 pm

        Ah, yes, thongs, but flip flops is also a term for Somalians (they are the Shia’s and the Arabs are the Shi-ites)

        They lob their footwear at each other, its supposed to be the worst insult possible

        I had an idea to get 3 pigs, number them 1,2,4, then release them, then watch the fun as they look for number 3, it would brighten my day 🙂

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  2. leggypeggy / Feb 28 2012 11:58 pm

    I think the term flips-flops is rather more widespread than Australia and Somalia! I sure hope so. But every time I used it on the truck, it caused a lot of mirth.

    And yeah, shoes can be offensive in the Middle East. You have to know ‘how to’ or ‘how not to’ use them.

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    • Derrick / Feb 29 2012 12:07 am

      I can imagine, I think you will when you see the email I have sent you

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  3. turkeytonorway / Feb 29 2012 5:50 am

    It’s not the straps – it’s the underwire. It happened to me in Lebanon. The woman took one swipe at my boobs with the wand and said ‘you’re fine’. It took me about 15 minutes to figure out how my boobs could be metallic. Lib

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    • leggypeggy / Feb 29 2012 7:43 am

      I was sure it was the underwire, but I thought I should report what he said. 🙂 Plus he commented just after he had run the wand over my back.

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  4. Louise M Oliver / Feb 29 2012 9:55 am

    Your bras must be pretty special Peggy. I’ve been a couple of times too—to both houses—and never encountered this level of scanner sensitivity. You’ve now prompted me to go again just so’s I can test it out! And, as you so rightly note, it can be a spectacle. The first time I went to the Senate I was very surprised at how loud and unruly it is. I had always thought that the Senate was a more genteel forum.

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    • leggypeggy / Feb 29 2012 10:15 am

      Haha. There’s nothing genteel about Question Time in either house.

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      • Derrick / Feb 29 2012 10:21 am

        I hate to say this, but its not that different here, a mad hatters tea party, just without the rabbit (another wonderfull export from the ‘old country’

        I thought the ‘House of Lords’ was going to be a lot different from the House of Commons’ only difference was the age group, and in the ‘House of Lords’ a lot more dozing off 🙂

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      • leggypeggy / Feb 29 2012 3:30 pm

        Love your descriptions of the Lords and Commons.

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