John Howard is right. John Watkins, the Deputy Premier, is foolish to criticise the choice of Sydney for this year’s APEC summit. And even more foolish to suggest we hold it in Canberra. Sure, APEC will be somewhat inconvenient. But it will bring nothing but goodness to NSW. We should be grateful for the opportunity it will bring our fair State. And the benefits will be a whole lot more than just the daggy shirts Ken Done will presumably provide for the world leaders.
Let’s think for a moment. Do we want security to be high during the time when world leaders of most of the world’s most important countries (sorry, Europe, but it’s true) are visiting Australia? If there’s a terrorist attack planned, do we want to maximise our chances of finding out about it before or after they blow up the Harbour Bridge and Opera House? I think we can afford to put up with a little inconvenience.
And we should, people of Sydney. We have to look at the big picture. And the big picture is this. It’s the second-best chance we’ll ever have to lord it over Melbourne. (The best, of course, being Sydney 2000.) Would they have complained about getting APEC? Of course not. For heaven’s sake, they got excited about holding the Commonwealth Games down there. Imagine how they’d react if they were given an event that actually meant something?
Melbourne has such a fixation on major events (which I have to admit, having just had a wonderful trip to the Comedy Festival, they are very good at) that their “Major Events Corporation” has had the monstrous arrogance to label our southern neighbour “The World’s Event City”. Which I am sure will come as an enormous surprise to the rest of the world. You’d think London or New York might have had a thing or two to say about it. In the unlikely event that they gave a stuff what happens in Melbourne.
Seriously guys, get over the inferiority complex, and just be content with advertising your city as a great place to visit. It is. But the Leader of the Free World is, I’m afraid, more likely to be impressed by the Opera House than by laneway bars, so we’ll handle him, thanks very much. But really, you’re ever so cool.
I was particularly surprised that John Watkins suggested that APEC be held in our actual capital, Canberra. Why on earth would we want to do that to some of our closest allies? Sydney is Australia’s capital in the eyes of the world, and the APEC decision only cements that. Do you think John Howard could have won his buddies’ support to host APEC if it was to be held in Canberra? Is that a fitting place for his political swansong, and probably his last opportunity to grovel to President Bush on home turf? Of course not. Sydney is the biggest stage we’ve got, and it’s the right place for the largest gathering of world leaders in the nation’s history.
Although, thinking more about it, if we held APEC in Canberra, it would be extremely secure. Because surely the terrorists wouldn’t bother to visit. There’s a lot that Al Qaeda extremists will do to secure those 77 virgins, as we’ve seen far too many times already. But visiting Canberra might be, as Kevin Rudd might put it, a roundabout too far.
The de facto anointment of Sydney as the nation’s rightful capital, though, is not the best thing about APEC. Come on, folks. Did you miss the most important part of the SMH article? The NSW Government has made the Friday a public holiday. I’m sorry, but just in case you missed it, let me reiterate. Thanks to APEC, we get an extra day off work. And it’s just us in Sydney, folks. Check this out – the rest of the state is going to be toiling away while we in Sydney stay at home and drink a big fat toast to John Howard and his buddies. Best thing he’s ever done for this city. And it even almost compensates for the Howards basing themselves here for the past decade.
The public holiday is extremely sensible, because it means most people won’t have to put up with the massive security disruptions. So all the whinging about inconvenience will probably be irrelevant in the long run. People will head out of town in droves, and watch the highlights on the news.
But it will be annoying for the footy fans on Grand Final Weekend, that’s certainly true. The winning team’s fans might have trouble doing lappies at the northern end of George St, and we wouldn’t want that. So I have an alternative proposal for those in charge of this great state. Let’s forget the whole Friday-to-Sunday thing, and move APEC to run from the Monday to Friday instead. I for one am willing to selflessly take the week off work, just to make it easier to secure our great city for its illustrious visitors.
I might even head down to Melbourne for the week, just to rub it in.