Blog: Security and APEC

Blog: Security and APEC

Insight Producer/Reporter Amy Laging shares her fearful experience of gaining security accreditation for APEC.


Time for a confession: part of me experienced an exhilarating thrill at the idea of undergoing an ASIO background check as part of my APEC media accreditation.

Externally I waved it off nonchalantly of course, casually dropping it into conversations and pretending not to notice my companions’ eyes widen with newfound awe and respect for the hard-nosed, world-weary journo in their midst.

I briefly fretted that the hardworking folks at ASIO would find something damning about my background before remembering that by and large my life has been a Groundhog Day loop of sensible early nights and paying bills on time.

Well … there was the time that I ran away from a teaching job in South Korea in the middle of the night, but that’s another story.

The ASIO background check was just one part of the long process journalists had to undergo in order to get the green-light to cover the APEC conference in Sydney.

Step 1 was several pages of questionnaire to be filled out online.

Step 2 was an even longer printed questionnaire, which in one part required the applicant to list every single address they have lived in over the last decade – including the dates they lived there. A daunting prospect for a Bedouin such as me.

I had to attach a separate loose-leaf page to cover all my previous abodes, from Broken Hill to Hong Kong, including shabby share houses that were better left forgotten.

Step 3 required certified photocopies of several identification documents and a signed copy of a passport photo of yours truly looking suitably sober and serious. Done.

It wasn't until the last page that I noticed the stern warning: applications are to be filled out in black pen only. Black? I’d used blue! Now I was fearful. It was back to the drawing board …

Check out the INSIGHT website: Fear Factor.

Have Your Say on the issue here

Mr Michael Ccurfield


Yes, there does seem to be a factor of fear in Australia at the moment.

I have been living overseas, including a year in London when the IRA were there.

But…there wasn't the awareness of fear that there is in Australia at the moment. Every time you watch TV, you will probably see an ad on being aware of terrorism, or make sure to tell the government where you go when you go overseas.

Ostensibly, this is for your safety, but it doesn't feel like that.

It seems like Australia has become more greedy and with that comes fear of someone else taking it off them.

Greg Smith

Perth, Australia

Your reporter was 'feaful' about applying for a media pass? Come on. That's exaggerating a bit.

Mrs Robyn Gooch


I regret to say I found your program, which hitherto has been one of my favourite programs, was disturbing and distressing.

Was it Roosevelt who said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself"?

I am not living in Sydney at the present time, but do plan to return, and the if the television footage of the city over the APEC week is a demonstration of "progress and prosperity" and if most Sydneysiders accept that as necessary for our safety, I sadly don't identify with them.

As for the constant mantra – "the world has changed since 9/11", I emphatically do not accept that as a pretext for such blatant manipulation of society.

Mr Kevin Eade

Newcastle, Australia

The war on terrorism – each person I suppose has their own response.

Yes the mass murder of the innocents are becoming larger with each passing year, no doubt the advancement of technology has a lot to do with this. The illegal arms trade also has a lot to answer for.

The opinion of Government is that "we know best" in these matters. Well, sorry I don't follow or believe that.

What is it going to take for people to start questioning the authority under which we are governed and what we are told?

Mr Antonio Cammarano

Melbourne, Australia

Fear is a trigger, to wake up and take stock to what’s going on in our environment / world and then through knowledge or correct information, motivate us to take positive action to regain our lost feeling of security.

When we fear, fear for fear itself (that is fear without information / knowledge) we compound it and it becomes a bottomless pit and no matter what we do, we will never really feel safe.

Feeling safe is a state of mind and it can only be resolved by correct information and not by what others tell you, especially a controlled media.

Ms Vicki Smith

Hobart, Australia

We are rapidly becoming a 'no risk society' living in a state of fear. We need to acknowledge the fear and do it anyway!

Ms Rusty Campbell

Sydney, Australia

I find myself becoming more afraid, not of terrorism, or bird flu or environmental change, but of speaking my mind and putting my name to my views,

I'm becoming afraid of the policies in this country regarding terrorism, freedom of speech and the protection of the private individual. It's not the "foreigners" I am wary of but the the Australian government, the police and the increasing compliance of both myself and other people to doing as I'm told without question, and not getting involved in anything that takes me out of being "relaxed and comfortable".

I have tried to counter this fear by doing things I never had interest in before – joining Amnesty, putting my name to civil rights petitions, and petitioning the government.

Ms Barbara Tenney

sydney, Australia

I believe that slowly under this government our rights as citizens are being erroded.

This does not appear to be a democracy, our right to protest is being selected by the government, permission given to those that are acceptable.

As our politicians are supposed to represent the people I see that happening less and less.