The Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) meeting to be held in Sydney in September will require "maximum security," but it will be a worthwhile inconvenience said Prime Minister John Howard.
Mr Howard, speaking at a joint press conference with New South Wales Premier, Morris Iemma, said the APEC meeting was the most significant international meeting Australia had ever hosted.
"I mean, never before will you have in one part of Australia, the Presidents of the United States, Russia, China, the Prime Minister of Japan, the President of Indonesia," he said. "We will in fact be hosting the first ever visit to Australia of a head of government or a head of state from either the Russian Federation or the former Soviet Union."
The APEC meetings will run from September 2–9 and will see Sydney accommodate 21 world leaders, 42 foreign and trade ministers and over 6000 delegates.
Around 1000 media officials will also be included as part of an International Media Centre (IMC).
Presidential accommodation from over 12 hotels has been incorporated and approximately 25,000 room nights have been booked.
Special Security for Sydney APEC
According to the Financial Review additional security arrangements will cost tax payers around $170 million.
Security personnel is said to include 3500 police officers and over 300 secure VIP motorcades.
The most significant traffic and transport changes will occur between the declared public holiday, Friday September 7 and Sunday September 9 as APEC leaders arrive, gather for meetings and then depart.
During this time the immediate surrounds of the Sydney Opera House, Government House and some areas of the Sydney Botanic Gardens will be totally locked down.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Cahill Expressway, the Harbour Tunnel, the Western Distributor and the Eastern Distributor, however, will remain open.
According to an APEC Taskforce brief, special legislation enacted by the NSW Government specifically for the meeting, allows certain areas of the Sydney CBD, Darling Harbour and parts of the harbour water off Circular Quay to be designated as "declared areas."
In these areas, all members of the public including residents or members of businesses can expect "a significant security presence, large numbers of police, safety barricades identification checks and the possibility of vehicle or personal searches."
Mr Howard said there would be a heavy security presence and there "will be some inconvenience" but the only way to avoid that would be to not have any of the events at all.
"There will be barricades and all that sort of thing, but the place is not going to be shut down and totally locked up. There will be a heavy security presence, there should be, and we won't make any apology for that," he said, adding: "I don't think Australians want us ever to say to the rest of the world: 'It's all too hard, go somewhere else'."
Climate Change Talks Significant
Mr Howard said climate change talks would be of particular significance in the coming meeting as "the two largest polluters in the world, the United States and China" would be coming together.
"You see, a lot of these other meetings, the Americans and the Chinese aren't sitting down together, except as part of an enormous concourse of everybody in the United Nations ambit. The G8 talks about climate change. The G8 does not include China whereas APEC includes China and the United States.
"Now I am not suggesting we're going to solve the problem of climate change at APEC, but I do think it will be a principal point of discussion and having both China and the United States around the same table is a huge advantage."
An update on transport arrangements for the September 2−9 APEC meetings was released by the APEC Taskforce last weekend.
A precinct bounded by King, George, Macquarie and Alfred Streets to Circular Quay will be "the focus of significant activity including frequent motorcades" the update said.
While trains and buses will continue running to weekend time tables, Circular Quay, St James and Museum stations will be closed over the September 7−9 long weekend.
The bus terminal at Circular Quay will also be relocated to Elizabeth Street, near Park Street during this time.
Sydney ferry services will run to normal timetables apart from two exceptions; JetCat services to and from Manly will not operate over the APEC long weekend and holiday timetables will apply to all other ferry services on Friday September 7.
Airline timetables will run to schedule but motorists have been warned to expect delays in the city through that week, especially around the airport September 7−9.