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Lockdown, arrest on budget day

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/05/2016

Parliament was briefly placed into lockdown and a man was arrested after a protest caused a security scare on budget day.

A suspicious farm ute with a tank on the back was driven on to parliament's forecourt just before midday Thursday, prompting a full-scale response from security and emergency services.

People were prevented from leaving or entering parliament grounds and a number of nearby streets were also cordoned off by police.

The lockdown delayed the arrival of Finance Minister Bill English at the budget lock-up, where he gives a presentation to journalists and analysts.

The vehicle was swept by police using detector dogs and was not deemed to be a security risk.

It was cordoned off and on Thursday afternoon it still had not been removed from the grounds.

Prime Minister John Key was worried by the incident.

"I think it's reasonably distressing you can get somebody driving on to the forecourt ... with a car that potentially could be used as some sort of explosive device," he told reporters.

"I don't know all of the details, but I think parliamentary security will have to go away and look at that.

"Any day is a busy day down at parliament, but budget day is a particularly busy day."

Speaker David Carter will be asking for a report on the incident, but he is reluctant to ban cars from coming on to the forecourt.

It will also come under scrutiny in an ongoing review into security at parliament, which was prompted by a Greenpeace protest in June last year where a number of activists were able to get on to the roof of Parliament House.

There was a second security incident later on Thursday afternoon and the rear entrance to parliament was briefly cordoned off.

Police had no further information about that incident.

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