3 Aug 2007

APEC and the militarisation of Sydney

It has become clear that not only will the policing of APEC be heavy, but that Sydney will be turned into a fortress in a strict, military sense, to protect it. This being the case, it is unclear why the organisers don't, or didn't, simply elect to hold the meeting on an existing military base: if they require such security, why hold the meeting in a manifestly unsafe place (by these insane standards of security), and then insist on spending the money to make that location secure. Why does it have to be the centre of Sydney, moreover? Couldn't they house it on the outskirts? Or perhaps at the empty Olympic site in Homebush, where a WTO trade round mini-ministerial meeting was held in 2002? The reason of course is probably that the meeting is all about showcasing Australia to visiting dignitaries, the heads of states of major powers, and this means holding it in the centre of Sydney, probably the most impressive place in Australia, or at least the one that will give the most desirable impression in this case.

So, the militarisation, the military occupation of the City of Sydney: 1500 military personnel. I wonder how many terrorists they are anticipating might try to attack – it seems to me that 1500 soldiers is clear overkill. Given that there is no indication that terrorists might actually attack, one should be worried that these troops might end up being used on peaceful protesters, which, as I discussed before, is, I believe, the planned use for the thousands of police rostered for duty. Of course, it seems unlikely that the government would want to provoke a massacre, unless it is an excuse to impose martial law in order to indefinitely postpone the federal election and hang on to power. Really, I don't think this will happen, but the militarisation of the Sydney unnecessarily puts the men and materiel there to make a massacre possible.