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Posts Tagged ‘APEC’

The end-of-APEC bump

It looks like APEC did nothing for Team Howard: 59-41 2PP (51-36 on primary). The poll was taken last weekend – so the effects of the past week’s leadership hand-wringing is yet to come. I’ll be very interested in what happens with it – I sincerely hope it reduced people’s faith in the Liberals even further, but I still worry that “the announcement” will actually turn into a positive for them.

Discussion, as always, is going on at The Poll Bludger.

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APEC: Who wins?

Laurie Oakes has suggested that both Howard and Rudd have done well out of this week. But who did better?

My take is that Rudd clearly came out of it better, which has to frighten the pants off the Government given the trend in the pre-APEC polls. None of the problems associated with APEC (disruption for Sydney residents, heavy-handed security, security failures, etc.) can be hung around Rudd’s neck at all. Howard is tainted by association, even when it might have been the NSW government or police who were the proximate cause of any issues.

What did Rudd do this week?

  • Demonstrated his Mandarin fluency, which impressed the Chinese, made the Libs (especially Dolly) look like sourpusses, and highlighted his experience in foreign relations (even if he doesn’t know every language in the world, skill in diplomacy is valuable).
  • Met with the US President and, more importantly, didn’t make any major missteps before, during, or after it as far as we can tell, which suggests that as PM he could both maintain a healthy alliance and hold fast in representing Australia’s national interests with a powerful ally.
  • Participated as Opposition leader in a way that established his credibility as a member of this group of leaders.

What did Howard do?

  • Emphasized his tight bond with Bush and the United States, which is a double-edged sword.
  • Put together his much-vaunted Sydney Declaration on climate change, a shining beacon of “aspirational internationalism” that seems unlikely to have any practical outcomes.
  • Signed agreements with major powers such as Russia, the US, and Japan, which could have played well for him but don’t seem to have picked up the attention they would need to be really beneficial.
  • Most importantly, he has been under intense scrutiny regarding his leadership, from the supporters of his own Government in the media.

Is there any more to add to either list? and is there any doubt about who did better from this week?

By the way, the most interesting thing in Oakes’s comment was the story of Rudd’s problems with APEC security:

But Rudd almost did not make it to the Opera House lunch for Russian president Vladimir Putin at which he was to support Howard’s speech of welcome.

Rudd’s Commonwealth car was turned back at three entry points to the secure zone, even though he and all members of his party — including the driver — had appropriate passes.

The Labor leader was told his car could not get past the checkpoints because it was not part of a motorcade. And this, believe it or not, was a day after the fiasco of the fake motorcade that got the Chaser comedians into trouble with the law.

Eventually Rudd got out, walked through a check point, and set off on foot along Macquarie St.

Before long, though, he realised he had no hope of getting to the lunch on time that way.

So he explained his dilemma to a friendly Sydney cop and sought a lift.

Was the integrity of security seriously based on a “Motorcade Criterion”?

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Feral lefties

After all the commotion, it looks like the “violent protestors” amounted to no more than a few of the thousands of people who turned out for today’s march:

NINE protestors were arrested and two officers left injured after clashes between police and demonstrators during today’s anti-APEC rally.

Police said one officer suffered a head wound when hit with an iron bar while another was hit in the head with a dart during the protest which attracted about 3000 demonstrators.

The nine protestors arrested will face charges of assaulting police, throw missile, offensive behaviour and resisting arrest.

NEWS.com.au witnessed two men being slammed onto the ground after police spotted them in the middle of the angry, vocal mob as it headed along Park St towards Hyde Park.

Apart from those two incidents of police being injured, it looks like the arrests were mostly people who police were looking out for, e.g.:

In the first arrest, a shout of “Watch out for that man” was heard before police sprinted nearly the entire length of a city block to crash-tackle him into the gutter.

Other protesters rushed over to watch the action.

In the second arrest, police again rushed into the crowd, dragging a tall man wearing a black mask from the middle of the road and slamming him heavily onto the footpath.

He was then marched to a waiting police van.

news.com.au had some liveblogging from the event. It indicates that some of the arrests were “blacklisted” demonstrators, which fits with the reporting above. I don’t imagine we will ever be given enough information to establish that there were reasonable grounds to detain people who apparently did nothing more than march.

And lest anyone think George Walker Bush was the only target of demonstrators:

Meanwhile, about 1,000 people from the Vietnamese and Tibetan communities held a protest against the Chinese President at Sydney’s Belmore Park.

Rally organiser Tenpa Dugdak has called on Prime Minister John Howard to make human rights in China an APEC issue.

“It’s so important – this meeting that happened, 21 leaders – great, but [don’t] just discuss about trade, discuss about human rights, environmental problems that can really impact on a global scale,” he said.

Kudos to all of those who turned out, despite all the scare-mongering, to show their objections to the current lack of integrity and leadership in our country, in Western democracies, and in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chaser team showed that the massive security clamp-down was futile in the practical sense, while the march today has shown that it was futile in principle – because this type of rhetoric was designed to scare people away, not to reflect the truth:

CHIEF Superintendent Stephen Cullen, the head of the NSW Police Riot Squad, laid it on the line this week. Sydney, he said, was on the brink of violence and civil disobedience on a scale never witnessed here.

Violent agitators were “well-drilled and disciplined” and the police intelligence was disturbing, cautioned the burly police veteran, who also carries the title of Civil Order Commander for APEC. “I have absolutely no doubt that minority groups will engage in a level of violence not previously experienced in Sydney,” he said. “Never in my career have I held such serious concerns for public safety.”

Of course, as Jeremy reminds us, the lack of violence just shows us that Chief Superintendent Cullen and his friends in the police and government were right.

Thanks for keeping the world safe from the “feral left”, fellas. You protected us from the Chaser boys, and now you’ve protected us from a bunch of families marching from Town Hall to Hyde Park.

UPDATE: Andrew Bolt is a tool. Feel free to go and poke holes in his logic via his comments section.

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Narrow focus

As Ken at the Road to Surfdom noted, this (US) ABC News report says a lot about how spectacularly unsuccessful APEC has been for Howard in terms of winning over the Australian public. But it also says a lot about where both George Walker Bush and the American media’s priorities lie:

No Respect for APEC

Little-Known Economic Conference Faces Challenges Amid President Bush’s Visit to Australia

First, the meeting is overshadowed in the news by President Bush’s unscheduled stop in Iraq.

Now, the president botched the name of the host organization. Twice.

Of course, Bush is gearing up to play domestic politics and Iraq is a critical issue for him, but the fact is that his stopover in Iraq has overshadowed a lot of the focus on issues in the Asia-Pacific region. While the organisation, planning and security of the event are getting the criticism they deserve, and a lot of what goes on is a combination of photo-ops and PR announcements (e.g., signing deals that have been worked out well in advance), that doesn’t mean that APEC does not have the capacity to produce meaningful outcomes. However, Bush is barely engaging with any of the other issues and is continuing to hammer on about Iraq while tampering with our political process. And the ABC headline highlights that they don’t see anything else that he should be doing, since it’s a “little-known economic conference”.

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Insecurity

This is really quite pathetic:

The New South Wales Police Commissioner and the man who ran security at the Sydney Olympics have both warned that the APEC stunt by The Chaser’s War on Everything team could have ended in violence.

“The reality is there were people that, through their actions yesterday, put security services in a position where they may have had to take an action that no one would want,” he said.

And this is not at all reassuring:

That point has been underlined by Neil Fergus, a senior executive for Intelligent Risks and former intelligence chief for the Sydney Olympics.

“People can talk over each other on radios and there can be confusion, so the police response – I think – was terrific,” he said.

“And thank God it was what it was. You’ve only got to look at the experience that a very professional police service had in London when a young Brazilian was tragically shot by anti-terrorism forces.

“As that motorcade approached the InterContinental Hotel, if the call had gone out on the encrypted radio that it was bogus, if there had been any miscommunication, any misunderstanding, any lack of professionalism or just confusion – unlikely as it is – somebody might have been shot.

“So I think the police are to be commended with the professional way that they did identify the incursion, the restraint that they showed in handling it and the fact that what we’re talking about today is a bad and irresponsible joke, instead of a more tragic set of circumstances.”

So, we should be pleased that the highly trained security professionals only screwed up a little and let them past two checkpoints and didn’t completely screw up and shoot people?

The statement from the Chaser team and the pictures of their IDs highlight not only that the incident only happened near the Intercontinental because there was a security screw-up, but that the Chaser team had turned around to show they were not a danger before Chas got out of the car.

Obviously they overestimated the capability of the security framework, probably because they believed all of that information coming from the NSW Government and the Police. Fortunately, they lowered their standards today.

I have to make a confession – I find that the Chaser is sometimes pretty puerile and not terribly clever. In any given episode I’ll probably enjoy half of it and really wish they hadn’t done the other half. This past couple of days has been exactly what they should do – poking fun at something that has been taken far too seriously for its own good. I know the end result was a bit more than they intended, but that shouldn’t take the fun out of it.

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Cry baby

Dolly finds another bee in his bonnet:

Asked if he was impressed by Mr Rudd’s language skills, Mr Downer, a French speaker, said he was not one to flaunt his talent with foreign tongues.

“Remember I am the foreign minister so whether I can speak French or not seems to be reasonably immaterial.

“It’s not something that I can speak French that I have paraded in all of my years in politics, though it’s been quite useful to me as the foreign minister from time to time.

“I know dozens and dozens of people who speak a lot of languages, they don’t just speak Mandarin, but other languages as well.”

Is one of those people the current Prime Minister? I think not.

Mr Downer said learning languages were part of the DFAT training.

“If you go and join the foreign service and you do a language course, you are obviously going to learn a language,” he said.

“I did the French language course and Mr Rudd did the Chinese language course. I did mine in two months and he did his in two years, that could say something him and me or something about the two languages. I think the former but that sounds a tad partisan.”

I think the latter – the tonal nature of Mandarin and the complete lack of overlap in the languages’ origins means that Mandarin is obviously going to be the harder language for an English speaker. Also, until we hear you speak to Mr Sarkozy, we won’t know whether you are as fluent.

Stick to the Panda sex jokes – I actually felt a twinge of warmth towards you yesterday.

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O Canada, we stand on guard for thee …

Those Chaser lads have been up to no good:

Chas Licciardello and the show’s executive producer Julian Morrow were detained late this morning after conducting a fake motorcade through Sydney.

The pair left the ABC building at Ultimo and headed to the Intercontinental Hotel. US President George W Bush is currently staying there.

They were metres from the hotel when they were stopped by police.

Chaser co-star Chris Taylor has told ABC News Online the fake motorcade was made up of three cars.

He says they dressed up the convoy to look like an official Canadian motorcade.

“No particular reason why we chose Canada,” Taylor said.

He says they thought it was feasible Canada would only have three cars in its motorcade.

And the cops are cranky:

New South Wales Police Minister David Campbell says he is extremely concerned that the ABC TV program The Chaser’s War on Everything has taken APEC security so lightly.

“The Government has made the point time and time again, that we’ve got the most serious, the biggest security operation in Australia’s history.

“We’ve got 21 world leaders arriving in the city at the one time and it needs to be taken seriously.”

Good luck with that.

At least Dolly doesn’t mind a bit of fun:

“Whatever you think of the humour of the Chaser, the honest truth is they were clearly not going to harm anybody in a physical way,” he said.

“They presumably were, as is the nature of their show, aiming to humiliate a lot of well known people.”

Given that the feeling of the city is like this at the moment, a bit of levity is just what the doctor ordered.

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