We’re still a month away from the APEC summit, but disgruntled Sydney residents have so far tolerated the noise of Black Hawks passing over the city, had their Lord Mayor encourage everyone pack emergency ‘go-bags’ complete with radios and energy bars and had their hospital services cut back.
But it’s only just begun. Business owners have been the first to suffer. Cement barriers have been erected in the CBD, blocking access from the roads for many stores. And although Friday September 7 has been declared a public holiday, a number of cafes and restaurants will remain open over the long weekend.
It’s not just businesses that have to remain tolerant. Sydney residents and tourists have been advised to take public transport and avoid driving as frequent delays between the airport and the city are to be expected. Under the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Act, officers will have increased security powers for the period allowing them to search anyone passing through an APEC declared area.
Prime Minister John Howard has denied claims that the city will be “locked down” during the meeting but acknowledges that there will be a “heavy security presence”.
The early meetings are scheduled to begin on September 2 with the 21 member APEC leaders’ meeting beginning on September 8.
Security measures being taken for the APEC summit:
- Jets will patrol a restricted area within a 45-nautical-mile radius of Kingsford Smith Airport and all other flights set to travel through the area will be required to pre-register and obtain approval.
- People on elective surgery lists in hospitals including Prince of Wales and Royal Price Alfred have had their appointments postponed to free up resources.
- Concrete fences have been used to fence restricted areas of the Sydney Opera House, Exhibition and Convention Centre and the Government House.
- The Australian Defence Force announced that around 1500 personnel, Black Hawk helicopters, F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, a special task group and Navy ships will be released for the event.
- A video featuring the Maritime Union of Australia protesting against Work Choices as part of a montage of ‘violent’ protesters has been shown as part of police training for the summit.
- Circular Quay, Museum and St James train stations will be closed for three days and moved to Elizabeth Street.
- For those planning to visit the city, delays and random police searches are said to be expected.
- NSW Premier Morris Iemma announced that temporary legislation would be put into force to increase police powers over the duration of the summit.
- Rumours of a 2.8m high concrete “ring of steel” to be built around the CBD have been circulating, alarming business owners.
- A $600 000 water cannon has been purchased by the police to be used against violent protesters.
- The NSW Police Minister has announced that taser guns, not capsicum spray, will be carried by riot police for crowd control.
Are you a Sydney resident who has an APEC gripe you’re dying to share? Send your stories with “APEC me” as the subject line to [email protected] any time up to the big weekend.