This article belongs to Australia - Land of the Free? column.
APEC security breached by Comedy Team.
Sydney Australia, Thursday the 6 September 2007, Security for the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was breached by a team of comedians from the popular Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) program ‘The Chaser's War on Everything'.
APEC is an economic forum for a group of Pacific Rim Countries to discuss matters on regional economy, trade and investment. The World Bank estimates that together these 21 countries represent about 60% of the World economy.
Membership of APEC includes such heavyweights as: United States, China, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, Canada, and Australia.
‘The Chaser's War on Everything' television program has been a run away comedy success for the ABC. Comedians go out into the community and carry out stunts on the unsuspecting public. For instance two very scantily clad members confronted Kevin Rudd and commenced to strip in front of him, because of his admission he attended a strip club. Another instance a member posing as a reporter attended Helen Clark's (Prime Minister of New Zealand) press conference and attempted to persuade her to say six. New Zealanders pronounce six as sex. For other exploits of the chaser team go to www.abc.net.au/tv/chaser/war/ - 17k -.
In the APEC stunt, eight crew and three drivers were in a fake convoy supposedly carrying the Canadian Prime Minister and was allowed through two checkpoints in Sydney's APEC restricted security zone.
They stopped just 10 metres from the InterContinental Hotel where US President George Bush was staying. They were only discovered when a member of the team, Chas Licciardello, jumped from the black limousine dressed as Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
The stunt exposed an embarrassing and potentially dangerous flaw in the security arrangements to protect 21 world leaders. The cost of the security was estimated at $250 million and yet it was breached so easily.
The chaser team never expected to get so far, ABC lawyers approved the skit on the assumption they would be stopped at the first checkpoint, but they were waved through the first and then the second and eventually stopped of their own accord.
The Police didn't see the joke and all the members of the team were charged with entering a restriction zone. They were bailed to appear in court on October 4.
It was obviously a communication breakdown but the Police denied it.
Isn't it amazing how expensive arrangements are often seen to be pompous and in adequate and circumvented by a small group.
I know this has serious consequences but I get the joke. I'm sure many others will too including the commercial TV stations that have reportedly offered mega bucks for the Chaser Team to cross over from the ABC.
Perhaps the publicity from this stunt will give the Team an international presence. Next stop the US talk show circuit, maybe a gig on Parkinson?
The fine they will receive for the stunt will be minute compared to the profile the team will receive and consequent monetary rewards.