The Federal and NSW security forces have a list of banned citizens, individuals who will be arrested and detained if they go anywhere near next week’s APEC summit in downtown Sydney. Who is on the list? It is a secret, replies NSW Police Minister David Campbell.
So how do you know whether you are on it and whether you should risk going into the city?
Oh, replies Campbell, the people on the list know who they are. We are truly in the web of a Kafkaesque nightmare. What is unbearably sickening about the security build-up is the way in which Premier Morris Iemma, Attorney-General John Hatzistergos, Transport Minister John Watkins and Police Minister Campbell practically have hot flushes as they excitedly announce some new draconian onslaught on the rights of the local citizenry.
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We have grown accustomed to Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock making his death’s head pronouncements trashing rights and liberties, but there is something peculiarly odious when it’s ALP ministers leading the charge.
Then there’s the strange case of Richmond Air Base which has been included in the list of exclusion zones, along with such iconic venues as the Opera House and the Icebergs Club at Bondi. Why Richmond, located more than 40 kms west of Sydney?
Those with a long memory will recall that during Justice Don Stewart’s investigation into the CIA-organised Nugan Hand Bank in the early 1980s, Richmond RAAF base was used to move American agents in and out of Sydney to avoid customs, immigration and passport controls. It meant that envoys, spies, Pentagon and FBI officials could travel to Australia and fly out without leaving a single traceable imprint. They could carry their weapons in and out as well.
Not that the media will be sending reporters and photographers to Richmond to keep an eye on the arrivals and departures: the spineless news chiefs in all Sydney media – print, radio and television – have been duchessed by the intelligence services and have agreed not to write anything about the security arrangements that will alarm the general populace or embarrass John Howard’s APEC party.