Approval sought to arm private security guards on Glen Eira Council property

December 22, 2015 12:00am

Cheryl Balfour

Glen Eira Council received a request to allow armed guards on its property. A CONFIDENTIAL report has confirmed a private security company sought approval from Glen Eira Council for guards to carry guns in public places, just two months ago.

The council has dodged questions on the issue since Caulfield Glen Eira Leader first revealed on December 7 that the issue went before a confidential council meeting on October 20.

The issue has caused friction at the council, with Cr Oscar Lobo accused of “anti-semitism” for comments he made during a council debate about public security. Cr Oscar Lobo’s comments during a council debate have incensed some in the community.

Leader has since obtained the confidential ‘Change to Council’s Risk Profile’ report tabled at the November 27 Audit Committee meeting. The report says: “On October 6, 2015 a non-government security group wrote to council seeking authority for some of its members to carry concealed firearms at events held on council property”.

Councillors Mary Delahunty and Thomas Sounness confirmed a letter from the Community Security Group seeking consent for security measures for Jewish events going forward was circulated among councillors on October 6.

The risk profile report states, “council officers would not give permission for an event under these circumstances but would suggest alternative venues for consideration”.

It says council management advised that if the council proposed to authorise the request, all security personnel must be licenced and have Australian citizenship or Australian residency. Firearms management should comply with legislation and evidence of public liability insurance of $20m must be provided, according to the report.

The document says that after the October 20 special council meeting, the security group “advised Council that it held public liability insurance of $20m on the following basis: “use of guns — covered”.

Minutes show a majority of councillors voted to close the October 20 meeting to the public and that “matters affecting the security of council property” were discussed.

Sources have confirmed to Leader off the record that councillors voted to allow armed guards on council property, including parks.

Mayor Neil Pilling again refused to comment and directed Leader to a council statement that “there is no authorisation by Glen Eira Council for the carrying of firearms for any current or future event anywhere in Glen Eira”.

The statement does not mention past events.

Victoria Police spokesman Acting Superintendent Richard Koo said police authorised individuals to provide armed guard services. “Provided a private security guard holds the appropriate sub-activity of armed guard on their licence there is no legislative restriction on where the activity can be carried out so long as the individual is abiding by the conditions stipulated on their licence and legislation.”

Police confirmed armed security guards could protect property and cash in transit only.

Government spokesman Kosta Pandos said it was “a matter for the council, however any decisions such as this must comply with the law”. “I can say that the government wants to see less guns on our streets and not more.”

Caulfield State Liberal MP David Southwick said the matter was between police and the council.