Friday, November 16, 2007

If The Threat Of 'Terror' To Australia Is So Great, Why Is Howard's Security So Weak?

I was photographing the security fence cutting through the Botanical Gardens, during the APEC summit, when an American jogger walked up and asked what I was doing. I showed him the camera, and some of the images, and told him it was such an amazing and weird site to see that I had to get photos.

"It's like a piece of modern art," I said, and the American laughed. "Yeah, ugly as hell."

I asked him if he was a Bush secret service agent, on a break, a question he ignored completely. He then asked if John Howard went for a walk every morning along the foreshore of the harbour, like he had seen on the news.

Every morning he's in Sydney, I said. The American nodded and snorted a laugh, before saying something along the lines of "He's not worried about his security then?"

It's a question worth considering. No doubt John Howard insists on a low key security presence, so passers-by are able to say hello and shake his hand. He clearly enjoys the contact with the people, and it looks good on TV as well.

But if the threat of terrorism to Australia is so great, so real, and so pending, you also have to ask why it is that any terrorist's presumed number one target leaves himself wide open, every morning on his walk, and at almost every speech and public appearance?

All of this was sparked by the incident today, where a man armed with a pooper scooper tried to "rush" the prime minister during a speech. The man was holding the pooper scooper, he said, because he wanted to clean up Howard's smelly trail of non-core promises that he's left in his wake :

A protester carrying a doo-doo collector surged towards the prime minister, getting to within three metres of him as the PM took the stage.

The man - wearing a badge marked Ken Franklin but later identified as education union official Ken Case - was tackled by security and thrown out of the Convention Centre, before explaining he had been collecting Mr Howard's non core promises.

And a long and festy trail of broken promises it is indeed.

If Howard's lax security is anything to go by, perhaps the threat of terrorism is not quite as intense as all those evening TV ads and intrusive airport security checks might lead you to believe it is.

If the prime minister, a prime mover in the horrific War On Iraq, can leave himself so wide open to protesters and possible snipers every morning and every afternoon, what the hell are the rest of plebs supposed to be afraid of?