City to become police state for APEC summit

Andrew Clennell State Political Editor
June 6, 2007

MORE than 3000 security personnel, including police from New Zealand and interstate, will be deployed during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in September, says the NSW Police Minister, David Campbell.

He also told the Labor caucus in a briefing note that the Government would introduce legislation today to "limit the civil liability" of police during the summit.

This could mean that if police injured violent protesters or damage was done to shops in the city during protests, police would be indemnified against suits for loss, damage or injury.

Police will have the power to "generally exclude people" regarded as undesirable or a risk from areas near the meeting.

A list of people who might be a problem would be drawn up with a view to excluding them. "NSW Police are gathering intelligence on a number of individuals and groups likely to engage in violent protest," said a police spokesman, Strath Gordon.

Mr Campbell's note said there would be 3500 security personnel, including members of the Australian Federal Police, the Defence Force, interstate and New Zealand police involved to protect 5000 officials and 1500 international media.

The legislation would give police the power to establish checkpoints, to prohibit certain items and allow bag searches in certain areas.

The legislation, which would be in force from August 30 to September 12, would also create a presumption against bail for certain offences and compel people to produce identification in certain areas. It will also allow foreign guards to patrol Sydney.

The Police Association said the massive deployment would "have an impact" at local area commands, where it would be a case of "first response only", rather than "proactive policing".

Laws will also be introduced that would allow police to lock up shops in the CBD and seal off suburbs should security problems occur.

Mr Campbell later told the Herald: "Given we have already seen reports that radical protesters are planning violent protests during the APEC meeting, it is important for NSW Police to have a strong contingent of officers.

"These types of threats are the very reason the Iemma Government will this week introduce new legislation to give police enhanced powers to deal with protesters."

The State Government will also legislate to ensure state awards contain an allowance for the creation of a public holiday for workers on September 7.

A spokesman for the federal minister for industrial relations, Joe Hockey, said the Government would follow suit with federal awards.

A spokeswoman for Mr Campbell, Alison Hill, said the civil liability powers being introduced were similar to powers introduced for police at other major events.

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