APEC is coming to Sydney next week. In fact it’s already here and making its presence felt in many nasty little ways.APEC is the summit of the ‘Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation’ forum in which the leaders of the larges economic powers of the region trolls around discussing… errr… well everything and anything they can cram on the agenda really including a cultural cultural program and private harbourside fireworks display which are going to be extensive, expansive, *and* expensive with costs likely to be in excess of $300,000,000. Whoopee!! And all for the leaders to have photos taken wearing ugly shirts or silly hats… or in our Foreign Minister Alexander Downer’s case, wearing fishnet stockings and high heels!! Most odd!!
I’m not sure what immediate or future benefits there might be for Sydney in hosting this meeting but the downsides are already being felt.
For starters the security arrangements have resulted in a virtual lockdown of the city centre and a large ‘exclusion zone’ created. Businesses have been asked to let their staff take time off during the events and many cafes etc are closing down without compensation because of the restrictions. Heavily armed police and dogs are in evidence wherever you look and those people ‘known to police’ as protesters against whatever have been told if they enter the exclusion zone for any reason they will be arrested.
Just to show they mean business… excuse the pun… many of the areas criminals who were serving their time as ‘periodic detention’ (i.e. on weekends) have been told they needn’t turn up for the next couple of weeks to make room for the thousands of protesters the police expect to arrest over the coming week or so. Charming. Protesting for human rights seems to be considered a more dangerous activity than, for example, drunk driving, burglary and the like.
Not only have they emptied the prisons and threatened civil rights activists, they’ve erected a 3 metre high, 5 kilometre long barrier through the centre of the city aound the CBD to protect the regions richest partygoers from those nasty people who want to complain. To say this is inconvenient is a gross understatement. I’d like to be able to show you a photo.. unfortunately, just to add to the idiocy surrounding the event… anyone taking photos of this eyesore littering the streets of Sydney is liable to be arrested. However, here’s one from a daily paper taken while it was being erected.
We heard three German tourists were told to delete the digital photos they’d taken and they complied… of course Mr Plod being thick as ever clearly didn’t realise they could be retrieved easily if so wished to the exercise was pretty silly. Still, the point was made.
Overall the city population will increase by well over 10,000 for the few days of the summit. There are over 4000 delegates, 5000 police and intelligence agents, hundreds of business leaders and 1000 foreign media coming. You might notice from this that the number of actual ‘leaders’ who will be in discussion is very, very low…. 21!!
Ok there *is* a worry that there might be a terrorist attack *might* be made on the leaders, that we can’t deny. But if security is such a concern, and there is such a fuss to be made over it, then why not hold the damn conference somewhere safer?? Canberra would be *far* easier to defend than Sydney. Or why not move the entire shebang out beyond the black stump?? I’m sure there are places back of Woop Woop where they could safely witter away to each without causing anyone else any grief.
Sorry but I think the disruption is too big as price to pay for a week in the limelight… especially if violent protest and terrorist mayhem *does* arise!!
The only ‘plus point’ for me is that the wife, who’s office is almost in the middle of the exclusion zone, will get to have a few days off. At least I’ll know the world leaders will be safe from her ministrations… and more importantly… she’ll be safe from theirs!