Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 01:38 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 01:38 | SYDNEY

Albanese and our mad security culture


Sam Roggeveen


4 August 2011 14:16

Sigh. Launching yet another feasibility study on high-speed rail (HSR) yesterday, Transport Minister Anthony Albanese trotted out one of the most transparently silly arguments for its adoption. But it is also unintentionally revealing:

'Imagine boarding a train in the centre of Sydney - no racing to the airport, no delays, no lost luggage, no taking your shoes off - and then being whisked at 350 kilometres per hour, arriving three hours later in the heart of either Brisbane or Melbourne,'' Mr Albanese said.

It's that 'taking your shoes off' line I want to focus on, with its implication that HSR would not require the kind of security we confront at airports. Is it even necessary to point out that avoiding airport security is not a good reason to build a $100 billion piece of infrastructure? If airport security is so oppressive, then the obvious solution is to reduce airport security!

But let's ask the larger question: why does Albanese think it would be unnecessary to protect such an important piece of infrastructure with the same kind of security we now have at airports? Could it be an oblique acknowledgment that airport security is mostly theatre, aimed at allaying public fears of terrorism (which the public associates with aviation) while leaving other equally plausible terrorist targets unprotected?

The bigger picture here is that our political class cannot yet discuss the terrorist threat with us in a rational way, because they think we will freak out if they dare suggest that it might be a good idea to have less airport security. They're probably right about that.

Photo by Flickr user kubotake.