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Australia: Police-state measures for APEC summit in Sydney

Mike Head via sam | 21.05.2007 06:55 | Analysis | Repression | Social Struggles | World

The APEC operation is part of a wider assault on basic democratic rights under the guise of combatting terrorism. Since 2002, the federal and state governments have combined to impose a raft of measures that would have been previously unimaginable, such as detention without trial, the outlawing of selected political groups, semi-secret trials and far-reaching sedition laws.

Wider assault on basic democratic rights
Wider assault on basic democratic rights

Unprecedented military and police powers will be in force for this September’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Sydney. Fundamental democratic rights and civil liberties will be flouted in order to block protests and prevent ordinary people from getting anywhere near the gathered government leaders, including US President George Bush.

The measures are the most blatantly anti-democratic yet in the five-year bipartisan attack on basic legal rights conducted under the banner of the “war on terror” by the federal government of Prime Minister John Howard and his state Labor counterparts. Howard and New South Wales Labor Premier Morris Iemma last week jointly announced measures that will include extensive “exclusion zones” throughout inner Sydney, random police street searches and the deployment of heavily-armed SAS troops.

According to further details outlined over the weekend by NSW Police Minister David Campbell, antiwar demonstrators and anyone else considered “suspicious” will be arrested and detained without bail for the duration of the September 6-9 summit. “Known troublemakers” will also be denied access to restricted zones, to avoid any “embarrassment” to dignitaries. These measures amount to a new form of detention without trial, and constitute a direct attack on freedom of political expression and movement.

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock immediately defended the proposed state legislation. Yet, while claiming that such initiatives were needed to thwart terrorists, he conceded that no specific terrorist threat existed and that the official terrorist alert level would remain unchanged at “medium”.

In reality, the measures are aimed at outlawing dissent and stifling opposition to the APEC meeting. Protestors are being branded as violent and bracketed with terrorists. A planned antiwar march will be blocked from proceeding anywhere near the vicinity of APEC venues.

Apart from Bush, who bears primary responsibility for the invasion of Iraq, the participants in the annual 21-nation APEC leaders’ summit include key partners in Washington’s war crimes, such as Howard, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Other attendees, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Philippines President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have willingly exploited the bogus “war on terror” for their own political purposes.

Being held in the heart of Australia’s biggest city, the event has become a testing ground for police-state and martial law methods. Public opinion is being conditioned to accept draconian police powers and the internal use of the military against civilians. NSW Deputy Premier John Watkins recently stated that the disruption would be “50 times” worse than that of the February visit of US Vice President Dick Cheney, when the Sydney Harbour Bridge and other major traffic routes were closed off, causing lengthy delays.

While no details have been released of the yet-to-be-drafted special NSW police powers legislation, aspects have been leaked to the tabloid media. Police will be granted powers to detain people and conduct random body searches in “declared zones”. While residents and some visitors will be allowed to enter the zones, they will be under constant surveillance by counter-terrorism police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Further legislation will be introduced to permit foreign government security agencies to carry weapons and enforce their own security arrangements against residents. Special permissions have already been given to the US Secret Service.

Mobile phone calls will be blocked in central Sydney whenever President Bush’s heavily-armoured motorcade passes through the city. According to the Daily Telegraph, a helicopter with signals and mobile phone jamming equipment will hover above Bush’s procession, supposedly to prevent remote control bomb attacks.

One of the “declared zones” will cover almost the entire central business district of Sydney, bounded by Macquarie Street, King Street, George Street and Circular Quay. Three inner-city train stations, St James, Museum and Circular Quay, will be shut for three days. Another “security triangle” will blanket harbourside areas, with its three points being the Opera House, Government House and the Darling Harbour convention centre. Road routes to the airport, some 8 km from the centre, will constitute another “declared zone”.

Other, as yet unspecified, “lock-down” zones will be completely off limits to the public. These are likely to surround all meeting venues and hotel locations. Many hundreds of police, including riot and counter-terrorism units armed with shields and automatic weapons, are expected to be deployed to enforce the “lock-down” zones and block any anti-APEC demonstrations.

In addition, government and military authorities will mobilise hundreds of military personnel. Any alleged threat to the APEC participants, whether a supposed terrorist plot or political protest, could see the SAS Tactical Assault Group called out onto the streets.

During an APEC security display at Sydney’s Holsworthy Barracks last December, SAS troops with high-powered machine guns and wearing gas masks stormed buildings and took aim at targets. Photos from the display on-line at the Department of Defence Media Room show SAS troops breaking down doors of homes and pointing weapons at the camera. (

During the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, thousands of troops, including SAS commandos, were deployed, but mostly behind the scenes. During US President Bush’s 2003 visit to Canberra, air force jets also flew overhead, enforcing a “no-fly” zone.

Both the Olympics and the Commonwealth Games became pretexts for the passage of legislation giving the federal government and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) explicit powers, for the first time in Australian history, to call out troops to put down “domestic violence”.

Last year’s changes to the Defence Act gave ADF personnel extraordinary domestic powers, including to interrogate civilians and seize documents. Troops now have legally protected rights to use lethal force, including to shoot down passenger aircraft. In the event of civilian deaths or injuries, a new defence of “superior orders” protects soldiers, except if the orders were “manifestly unlawful”.

The prime minister acting alone can now order soldiers onto the streets, if he thinks “critical infrastructure” or a “Commonwealth interest” is threatened by undefined “domestic violence”. The government can also give the Chief of the Armed Forces standing orders to activate the military whenever he thinks it necessary.

No callout order need be in writing. Nor does any notice have to be given to the public or parliament. Thus, ordinary people may be confronted by troops on the streets, or on their doorstep, without knowing that a call-out has been ordered. Moreover, few people know about these powers, because last year’s amendments were passed with the Labor Party’s support with virtually no debate.

These provisions trample over the basic political, constitutional and legal principle—dating back to the overthrow of Charles I in Britain in the seventeenth century—against using the armed forces to deal with civilian disturbances.

The public is being conditioned to accept an ever-wider use of the military against civilians. More police-military exercises are being staged in the lead-up to the APEC summit, including a current fortnight-long operation codenamed Blue Luminary 2. Media reporters were this week treated to a display of police commandos arriving in the Botanic Gardens via helicopters. Such was the “security” atmosphere that a Botanic Gardens worker, with hedge trimmer in hand, was hustled away from the area by police and men in dark suits.

The APEC operation is part of a wider assault on basic democratic rights under the guise of combatting terrorism. Since 2002, the federal and state governments have combined to impose a raft of measures that would have been previously unimaginable, such as detention without trial, the outlawing of selected political groups, semi-secret trials and far-reaching sedition laws.

See Also:
Tamils arrested in Australia under Howard's draconian "anti-terrorism" laws
[7 May 2007]
Australia: The true face of the "war on terror"
Anti-terror police raid homes of Sydney University students
[20 March 2007]
Australia's "Anti-Terrorism" Bill: the framework for a police state
[3 November 2005]


Crackdown on 'nasty' summit protesters
DEMONSTRATORS and anyone under suspicion can be arrested and held without bail under unprecedented police powers being brought in for the APEC summit in Sydney.

Mobile blocking helicopter to trail Bush in Sydney
"US President George Bush will be followed about by a helicopter which jams mobile phone signals during an upcoming visit to Australia, it has emerged.

Security assessment for APEC summit?
The APEC summit promises to be an expensive—and dangerous—swansong for scaremonger Howard

No change to terrorist level for APEC: Ruddock?
Federal war criminal attorney-general Philip Ruddock has dismissed suggestions that the official terrorist attack threat level will be upgraded during September's APEC conference in Sydney.

APEC summit and Public Safety
Howard's APEC summit in Sydney poses a serious threat to public safety with rocket launchers stolen from the Army still unfound

g20: Victims of violence still suffer as police hypocrisy continues
Another example of unsubstantiated claims by police and uncritical reporting of them by the mainstream media. The age article and my comments below.

Random body searches okayed for APEC
NSW Premier Morris Iemma says the State Government will introduce legislation into Parliament to give police increased powers for the duration of the APEC Summit in Sydney.

3 Sydney train stations to close for APEC
War criminal prime minister John Howard and New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma have announced three Sydney train stations will be closed during this September's APEC summit.

Solidarity with g20 arrestees
A group of supporters held vigil this morning outside the Melbourne Magistrates Court in solidarity with G20 arrestees facing a committal hearing ...

German police ban protests at G-8 summit
BERLIN (AP) _ German police have issued a ban on protests outside a fence built to seal off the venue for next month's Group of Eight summit, prompting anti-globalization activists on Wednesday to promise a court challenge.

APEC police 'will learn from G20'
NEW South Wales police will be able to use information gathered in the wake of the violent G20 summit protests in Melbourne to prepare for next year's APEC meeting, Treasurer Peter Costello has said.

to people thinking about organising protests at APEC
Some people have said that they don't want APEC to be another G20. Neither do we. We don't want to see 'protest organisers' publicly denouncing other protesters. We don't want to see groups responding to a climate of police aggression by distancing themselves from those being targeted. We don't want to see groups so busy scrambling for crumbs of media 'legitimacy' that they willingly play into media hysteria about 'violence' and false and dangerous dichotomies between 'good' and 'bad' protesters.

Getting A Divorce From Federalism
It takes two to tango. In the event that either party to an agreement, such as the basis of a system of representative democracy, breaks both its spirit and its principles, the relationship can be legitimately severed. This need not involve a revolution or an overthrow of the current power elites. It is simply a matter of separation. Of going off in different directions, and to different futures. Neither party has the legal right to prevent the other from separating from the agreement. Constitutional lawyers or not, once the fundamental basis of the agreement has been destroyed by criminal acts, the whole deal can be called off. The days when the church could enforce matrimonial relationships for life, have long gone. Similarly, the power of constitutions to enforce the permanency of government / citizen relationships, is passing into history. In the event that a Federal government develops into the ultimate organised crime, the citizens of that decayed democracy have an inalienable right to secede from that federation.

Negotiating The Separation
The following mock dialogue illustrates the arguments involved in a region, state, or city within a federation opting to secede from the relationship, on the grounds of undemocratic processes and deep criminality in the administration having invalidated the basis of an existing constitutional agreement.

Not Revolution, But Abandonment
The process of gaining full freedom from nation states will not involve revolution or civil disobedience. It will thus be beyond the power of federal governments to attack or control.

Daniel Quinn, writing in Beyond Civilization, Humanity's Next Great Adventure, puts the situation into sharp focus. Quinn uses the analogy of an aircraft in trouble, he argues that in such a situation nobody wants to shoot or overthrow the pilot, they only want a parachute and an open door. As Quinn sees it, governments always have countermeasures in place to put down any attack on their authority and power from within (aircraft pilots might have a double locked door between their cockpit and the main cabin, as well as weapons to use if they are attacked by passengers), but governments never have any defences against abandonment (a line of passengers with chutes exiting the external door of the main cabin).

Quinn contends that while governments can imagine a revolution they can't imagine abandonment. As he puts it, "..even if it could imagine abandonment , it couldn't defend against it, because abandonment isn't an attack, it's just a discontinuance of support."

In a worse case scenario?
Australian hospitals unable to cope with major emergency
A report published in the Medical Journal of Australia last month by three leading trauma physicians in Sydney and Melbourne concluded that hospitals in Australia and New Zealand could be overwhelmed in the event of a major disaster, whether natural or man-made.
But you won't get hurt if you're not there or part of the crowded!

Mike Head via sam



21.05.2007 09:54

The Australian Government confirmed its commitment to host a safe and secure Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in 2007 with the allocation of $70 million over four years for security-related purposes, together with $0.6 million for additional ongoing operating costs for armoured VIP limousines. Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said APEC will involve a series of meetings at the technical, academic, senior official and ministerial level and culminate in the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Sydney in September 2007.

The funding will support the coordinated and whole-of-government security preparations for all APEC events already underway. This includes:

• $56.2 million to the Protective Security Coordination Centre (PSCC) for security costs associated with the hosting of APEC Leaders’ Week in Sydney in September 2007

• $4.0 million to the PSCC to purchase ten armoured VIP limousines and to manage the purchase, control and dispersal of other security assets acquired for APEC purposes and for additional ongoing operating costs

• $7.2 million to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to establish and train 22 firearms and explosives detector canine teams to conduct firearms and explosives searches at Leaders’ Week and preceding ministerial meetings, and

• $0.9 million to Emergency Management Australia (EMA) for the development of consequence management plans for an incident during APEC Leaders’ Week or any of the preceding ministerial meetings.

“APEC involves 18 official separate events, held over 100 days and spread throughout the States and Territories. It will be the largest and most complex dignitary protection event in Australia’s history,” Mr Ruddock said.

“Security planning will take into account the range of threats that APEC 2007 might face, including possible terrorist threats to attending dignitaries and the event itself as well as protest activity to disrupt some meetings.” he said.

Besides delivering concurrent dignitary protection for the leaders of the 21 APEC member economies, the security arrangements for APEC 2007 will need to account for approximately 10,000 delegates and many thousands of Australian residents.

“It will be important for us to deliver nationally consistent security arrangements to achieve effective security for each APEC 2007 event and particularly APEC Leaders’ Week,” Mr Ruddock said.

What a Waste