By Meg Hill
On June 10, the State Government and the City of Melbourne began the unannounced installation of safety barriers around the CBD in an attempt to counteract recent trends in terrorism and attacks against the public.
The barriers are being installed overnight at popular city areas without prior disclosure of locations, with the first barriers being installed at Bourke St and Federation Square.
New security measures were announced as part of a developing strategy by the government in May in the wake of the Bourke St massacre but were spurred on by the recent London attacks.
“There’s no time to be wasted here. When we think about London, when we think about other events, tragic events on the other side of the world and events very close to home, there’s no time to be wasted,” Premier Daniel Andrews told a press conference.
The unsightly concrete blocks are temporary barriers to be replaced by a network of permanent or retractable bollards, funded by a $10 million chunk of the 2017/18 Budget.
“These concrete blocks will be replaced by street furniture, planter boxes and things that are perhaps a little less imposing. But, we’re not going to wait for that work to be done, that will take some time,” Mr Andrews said.
“This is not about alarming people, it’s simply indicating that we are prepared and that we are doing everything that we need to do to keep Victorians safe,” he said.
He said electronic bollards, which would not obstruct trams but could be activated when needed, would be installed in the Bourke St Mall.
Mr Andrews said other sites around the city would be getting similar treatment but would not be announced in advance, as this would indicate where vulnerabilities existed.
“Whilst constructing permanent bollards will take some time, I have directed that temporary bollards be put in place here at Federation Square and Bourke St and a number of other sites that we won’t go into for obvious reasons,” he said.
He said CCTV upgrades and a city-wide warning system would also be rolled out over the next six months.
“I don’t want to change the way we live our lives but I want to ensure that we’ve got the best infrastructure, on the best advice, to keep Victorians safe,” Mr Andrews said.
“We will look to fortify and defend any assets across the city when we are given advice that it needs to be done.”
Police Minister Lisa Neville said: “Recent events have shown us that these sorts of security measures can’t wait.”
Terrorism expert at Victoria University Professor Ramón Spaaij told CBD News in May that over-reliance on obvious public security measures could be problematic.
“The more of these measures you put in place, the more people start to feel unsafe,” he said. “People start noticing the increased security and start assessing the possible risks and threats. They can help by diverting attacks away, simply because these lone individuals may not have the ability to overcome these barriers. Then the problem is target displacement.”