Thursday, November 16, 2006

Here we go again – How did a major disruptive event get to be held in Melbourne CBD

In 2000 protestors caused disruption to the leisurely pace of Melbourne when they blockaded Crown Casino, the venue for the World Economic Forum. Then in August last year protestors once again caused disruption to Sydney’s Circular Quay precinct during the Forbes Conference.

In both these instances considerable areas of each CBD were “locked down” by Police, causing considerable disruption to traffic and access to public areas.

Now it is all happening again in Melbourne.

Assistant Commissioner Gary Jamieson told the media that police did not expect demonstrators to blockade the meeting venue, as they did at the 2000 WEF meeting at Crown Casino, but he could not guarantee delegates would be able to enter the hotel, located in the heart of Melbourne's central business district.

And get this – “Police had not been consulted on the choice of venue,” he said.

The G-20 Meeting is being hosted by the Federal Treasurer and funded by the Federal Government. Just imagine anyone else deciding to hold an event that is expected to disrupt the running of a major city and not consult the local police before booking the venue. How arrogant!

Here is how the event is being explained on the G-20 website…

Public Information about the G-20 Meeting of G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, Melbourne, Australia, 18–19 November 2006

This November, Melbourne will host the world’s most influential economic and financial leaders at the G-20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors. It will be the most significant gathering of its kind ever held in Australia.

Following the success of this year’s Commonwealth Games, Melbourne will again be at the centre of the world stage. Melbourne has proven its ability to deliver a truly world-class event and with the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in town, Melbourne will once again show the world what it has to offer.

The meeting will take place at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne and at several other venues around the city, showcasing the dynamic and cosmopolitan nature of Melbourne – sporting greatness, vibrant arts industry, successful business sector and the natural beauty that surrounds the city.

The meeting is likely to attract local and international interest, including possible demonstrations. As a result, it is expected that there will be some changes to a small area of the CBD however, most of the CBD will remain open for business as usual.


The meeting will be held at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Its facilities will be closed to the public from 12 noon Wednesday, 15 November until 12 noon Tuesday, 21 November 2006.

Traffic and Roads Information

Security around the Grand Hyatt Melbourne, and the possibility of some protest activity, is expected to lead to some minor traffic disruptions. These will be clearly sign posted and up-to-date traffic information will be regularly communicated.

Don’t you just love the reference to “some minor traffic disruptions” when you see today’s news reports. And “showcasing the dynamic and cosmopolitan nature of Melbourne” with the Paris end of Collins St blocked off to traffic and pedestrians.

The 2002 WTO meeting was held at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park – well away from the Sydney CBD and where the police had special powers under the Sydney Olympic Park Act to control protestors. Surely this is a much saner way to manage such events.

However Sydney’s turn will be next.

APEC is being staged this time next year in the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre. I got a taste of how some of this will be managed when I had to make a delivery to a client at the SIBOS conference at SCEC last month. The carpark under the exhibition was shutdown and the entire centre was restricted to those with appropriate accreditation. This is a venue that can handle that type of security. Although for APEC one would assume that the lockdown perimeter will be far more reaching.

A word on APEC.

Remember all the speculation some months ago about whether John Howard would stay until the next election? I kept saying that APEC was the reason that he would stay on. This will be the first time that a full APEC meeting will be held in Australia (it came out of an informal Ministerial-level dialogue group with 12 members in Canberra in 1989) and there would be no way Howard was not going to host it.

Let’s face it; he has to get his own back on previous hosts by dressing them in Ken Done shirts.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It’s a new soundsation!

Recently I had my first close quarters experience with a band using in-ear foldback, and it was very disconcerting.

The band was playing a corporate event at SCEC’s Bayside Grand Hall, the exhibition and function space under the main convention hall at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

The FOH sound system in the hall has been “upgraded” from a Meyer UPA system to a line array system. Now this in itself is intriguing because the while the Meyer system provided a very good, even coverage of the room, the line array system is very focussed. While it pushes the sound right to the back centre of the room (where the FOH mixing desk is located) it provides no coverage to most of the dance floor or to the sides of the room. So fill speakers are used for the sides and the dancefloor.

However the band on this occasion was being mixed from the side and the operator was frequently seen walking to the side of the dance floor to assess the mix from directly in front of the line array. However, the front middle section of the dancefloor was getting nothing from either the line array speakers or the infill speakers rigged on the lighting truss.

Normally this isn’t a problem because there is usually plenty of spill from the band’s stage monitors and foldback. However, the drummer was enclosed behind a Perspex screen and the electric instruments were plugged directly into the mix without on-stage amps. This meant that the only sounds that could be heard in front of the stage were acoustic - the brass and a proportion of the drums. Watching the guitarist go into a very dramatic solo and just hearing the scratching of the strings was like listening to a teenager practicing without an amp – very weird.

The lead singer made a number of forays into the crowd – no problem with feedback as he never got in front of a live speaker and his singing could be heard better than when he was on stage.

Seeing so many Gen X and Y kids plugged into their ipods these days one wonders how long it will be before sound systems are done away with all together and the audience listen to the band via a wireless ipod device.

A very clean stage look - note the lack of amps and foldback