APEC Security To Cost A Mind-Boggling $24 Million Per Day
Staggering New Police Powers To Be Introduced To Prevent World Leaders Coming Into Contact With The Public
The APEC summit of world leaders is coming to Sydney in September, and locals have been told to "leave town", as the stunning array of security measures that will be deployed will see a huge area of the city undergo a near total lockdown, for at least three or four days.
If you thought the shutdown of the Harbour Bridge when US Vice President Dick Cheney was in town, was way over the top - just so Cheney could be whisked over to the north side of the harbour to dine with the prime minister - that was a mere preview of what's coming in September.
In the heart of Sydney today, a security rehearsal for the APEC world leaders summit will get a "dry run".
Some 200 health ministers are converging on a Sydney hotel for a conference on pandemic bird flu, and as this is the last major event of its kind before the APEC summit, security officials have determined it's a good opportunity to try out some of the "stringent security measures" they intend to inflict upon the people of Sydney when world leaders gather here later this year :
This week will also see the introduction to State Parliament of new police-state level security legislation, all supposedly tied to September's APEC summit of world leaders.
The new legislation will give police the ability to :
Declare restricted security zones.
Conduct random searches.
Ban troublemakers from entering restricted zones.
Stop those arrested for violent acts from getting bail until APEC is over.
Apparently any protester deemed to be a "trouble maker" who dares show their face during the first days of the APEC lockdown can be held without charge.
And anyone caught during any of the days of the APEC summit with devices that can injure police horses, injure people or blow out the tyres of police cars and motorbikes will face an
extraordinary 14 years in jail.
Newspapers over the weekend expressed a measure of surprise that the costs for the stunning levels of security needed to lock down Sydney for APEC have already "blown out" to almost $180 million.
Security costs for APEC are already more expensive than those needed for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, and will cost taxpayers a mind-boggling $24 million per day to prevent the leaders of the free world from coming into contact with the public.
Surely then it will come as no surprise to the media when the security costs again "blow out" to more than $250 million closer to the date of the summit :
Previously on this blog :
The costs far outstrip those of the Sydney Olympics, which featured hundreds of dignitaries and lasted more than two weeks.
During the get-together, heads of government, including US President George W. Bush and Russia's Vladimir Putin, will cruise the city in a fleet of armoured limousines provided by Australian taxpayers at a cost of $4 million.
Although meetings involving officials are scheduled to last a full week, most leaders will stay only two days.
But they revealed the Federal Government's security bill for APEC 2007 was $169 million, compared with previous estimates of $143 million.
Security for the 2000 Olympics is estimated to have cost $152 million.
As well as limousines, the money is being used to secure venues and implement "airspace management".
It is also funding extra border-control measures, intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism response.
The biggest single allocation has been handed to NSW Police, who received $78 million in federal cash to secure "marine area command" - Sydney Harbour - and conduct traffic control, dignitary protection, dog squad and mounted police operations.
The money will also fund aviation, State Surveillance Branch, intelligence and advanced technical support.
The main security event is Leaders' Week, during which 21 heads of government will descend on Sydney.
For up to two weeks in September, a huge area of Sydney's central business district, and tourist shopping mecca, will be blockaded by hundreds of police, security guards and Australia's military. Soldiers, armed with assault rifles, will allegedly be given "shoot to kill" rules of engagement to deal with security threats.
Black Hawk helicopters will patrol the skies, snipers will be positioned on the rooftops of some of Sydney's landmark buildings, train stations will be closed down and checkpoints will screen each and every person who tries to enter 'The Zone'.
In a quick series of announcements earlier this week, the state and federal government unveiled the first slab of details revealing just how severe the ultra-security will be when more than 20 world leaders, including Presidents Bush and Putin, descend on Sydney for the APEC summit in September this year.
The publicly released plans read like scenarios culled of the Orwellian police state portrayed in the movie 'V For Vendetta', and Sydneysiders are already expressing their anger and frustration at an event that they know will paralyse the city centre, while they still have to go to work and try to live their lives.
While news that Australian soldiers carrying assault rifles will be patrolling the streets of Sydney was jaw-dropping enough, we've also now learned that special legislation will be introduced, allowed under anti-terror laws, to allow police to pull people they deem to be a possible security threat off the street and detainee them without charge, for days at a time. Other Sydneysiders can look forward to the possibility of being subjected to random full body searches.
Naturally the notorious, odious Piers Ackerman, a stunningly biased full-time John Howard propagandist, thinks there is nothing at all wrong with APEC being held in Sydney, instead of in Canberra or an island resort. And he loves the idea that the summit will allow the 21 APEC world leaders a forum to continue working out ways to morph their nations into a virtually borderless free trade zone encompassing about a third of the world's surface, which will probably be called Oceania in a decade or two :
APEC is more, much more than a tourist stopover for 21 world leaders, top business figures and senior public servants, let alone a photo opportunity in a funny shirt.
It will place Australia squarely in the role of Asia-Pacific powerbroker with a very serious business agenda that could set the agenda for major changes in the way the economies in this part of the world work.
There is also an APEC nations business travel card which will act as a visa for preferential travel across the borders of 17 of the 21 APEC economies.
A system of APEC-wide standards is also being worked on to simplify trade, a huge step at a time when some member nations don’t even have their own internal standards organisations.
The APEC nations even consider it possible that their Sydney talks may help break the free trade stalemate that has deadlocked the Dohar rounds of talks, cutting red tape and producing a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region. If Dohar falls over, or more realistically, when, APEC could be the essential basis for a free trade zone.
Of course, Ackerman has nothing to say about the expected half-trillion dollar losses to local businesses when Sydney is shut down for the best part of two weeks later this year. Give him a few months and he will blame the shut down of Sydney on the threats posed by all those nasty protesting, freedom-loving, anti-globalisation 'terrorists' and big puppet heads.
For power groupies like Ackerman, inconveniencing millions of people, inflicting staggering financial losses on small businesses, milking the taxpayers for hundreds of millions of dollars and subjecting innocent people to draconian police-state security measures just goes with the territory of establishing a mammothic 'free trade' zone in our part of the world.Australians should feel blessed, you see, and Sydneysiders in particular, that supreme powers have deigned us mere mortal Australians worthy of paying the bill for a world leaders talk fest, where they will sit down to work out how they can further carve up the world and its natural resources for the alleged betterment of all.
And be whisked around the city in bomb-proof limousines while the unworthy sit in gridlock for two or three hours, while being buzzed by Black Hawk helicopters.
It's a small price to pay to have our city graced by the likes of such admired and respected world leaders like President George W. Bush.
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