The tens of thousands of Sydneysiders who spent most of this morning waiting to see the USS Kitty Hawk ”do” a Pasha Baulker as it made its entry to the harbour may have been disappointed, but the carrier’s arrival is only the curtain raiser to several months of unprecedented security paranoia.
The enormous aircraft carrier (84,000 tons, 320 metres long, 5000 sailors and 90 jets) didn’t run aground, or even ”blink” in the teeth of the gale force winds, but it has caused chaos for those in the multi-million dollar high rises and mansions from Double Bay through to Darlinghurst.
The latter have been forbidden to park on the streets until after the US Navy sails about next Tuesday under the strict terms of an emergency traffic edict dropped into their harborside lives without warning on Tuesday. So they appear to be parking in droves in the jealously guarded parking preserves of the former this morning, causing just a little social friction between ‘old’ money and the upstart newly rich professionals who have colonised ‘east Sydney’.
But this is only a teaser for the lock downs that will apply during APEC between 2-9 September, and especially during the peak leaders meetings for the last three days.
The harbour bridge and tunnel, and scores of other major and minor routes, including underground railway stations, will be liable to closure without notice and for uncertain durations during APEC.
Friday 7 September is a special public holiday, as good a hint as any to Sydneysiders to take a long weekend out of town as APEC reaches its inevitable climax: a group picture of world leaders in silly shirts.
Ken Done is rumoured to have done the art work, but it’s a still a state secret as to how that bit of the ceremonial will be Australianised. Please, no Speedos or Kelly helmets.
For now don’t even think of going out on the harbour on ski paddles, skidoos or the private yacht near the poor defenceless USS Kitty Hawk and its supporting contingent of three warships.
You will be hauled out of the water. Come the first week of September, being shot out of the water is a distinct possibility for anyone who tries to get anywhere near a pleasure cruiser hosting President George W Bush or any of the other 20 world leaders expected to attend.
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But at least the skies seem likely to be safe.
Airservices Australia has banned private pilots from flying anywhere closer to the city than the other side of the Blue Mountains, Wollongong and almost as far as Newcastle for the duration of the event without being issued with a ”special number” for permission to do so under strictly limited conditions.
Applications for such permission had to be made by 22 June, on forms which were not mailed to private pilots until 26 June.
Not a case of an administrative stuff up, but a perfect example of ”stuff you”.