You have got to be kidding...

August 17, 2007 11:20 AM

A five kilometre, 2.8-metre fence will lock up sections of the [Sydney] CBD during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit next month.... Pedestrians may need identification to cross some streets.... The fence, which will sit on 1.6-tonne concrete blocks, will be set up on the gutters of large parts of the northern end of the city. Police will man pedestrian crossing points... -- Show ID to get past Great Wall of Sydney, Sydney Morning Herald

OK. Gathering a bunch of ‘world leaders’ in the one place is a huge opportunity for terrorists, and is going to require a level of security that is, at least in Sydney, unprecedented.

You know what? There are two really simple solutions to this problem.

You could hold the event in Canberra. It's the capital city of Australia, so it's not like you're bundling everyone off to Adelaide or something, but at the same time it's a much smaller city than Sydney, which makes it far easier to secure, far easier to notice if suspicious people decide to visit for the weekend, and since government is already the town's primary industry, far less of a disruption to the general populace.

Except who would trek halfway around the world to spend four days in Canberra? You'd have the first APEC where nobody showed up.

Which, really, wouldn't be a bad thing. If terrorism is such a big problem, surely the first and most obvious response is not to hold events where several dozen potential targets all gather in the same hotel? Hook up a videoconference. Send delegates and diplomats. Sure, you miss out on a photo-op or two, but what was that about having to make sacrifices to ensure our security? I guess that only applies to those of us who are going to have to show our papers at half a dozen checkpoints just for the privilege of going into the office.

Really, the residents of New South Wales are spending millions of dollars in tax money and putting up with an invasive security regime just so John Howard can get his photo taken next to George Bush (in whatever funny outfit we decide is this year's theme) a month or so before the general election.

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