‘Punked… Australian-style’

Sep 6, 2007 6:52pm

ABC News correspondent David Kerley writes from Australia:

We nearly became part of an Australian comedy show hours ago here in Sydney. A strange possibility when you are part of the White House Press Corps. Along with producer Stephanie Smith and our local Aussie crew of Mario and Paul, I was working a story about how President Bush is being welcomed in Australia, where a majority of citizens oppose the war in Iraq. We decided to shoot some pictures and do an on camera element about the miles of fences erected to protect the 21 World Leaders who are here for the APEC conference.

As we were walking towards the fence, there was a lot of activity. Dozens of police officers and a couple of paddy wagons were gathered at the opening of the fenced roadway leading to President Bush’s hotel. I had traveled this route the day before to attend a news conference with the President and Prime Minister Howard. There is a lot of security. They check your credentials at two stops along this "security tunnel." Australia has put up 3 miles of fencing and has 5,000 police officers working security.

Mario and Paul started talking to local crews as we move closer to the cops. Turns out "Chases War" has just been busted for busting through the massive security apparatus here. Call it "Punked" Aussie-style. The actors, using a couple of black vehicles, motorbikes, and a Canadian flag created their own little motorcade. Complete with a couple guys in dark suits running alongside playing the role of security men. And one of them inside the car was dressed as Osama Bin Laden. It worked, for a while. They got through two checkpoints and within 30 feet of the president’s hotel. It’s an amazing feat considering the amount of money being spent on security here. The 11 "TV people" arrested were using fake credentials which contained the name of the show, and had the word "joke" next to the APEC logo. We watched as one of the "security" actors, in his dark suit, was put in the paddy wagon.

Not surprisingly, police are livid. All 11 people posted bail and are out of jail. They will be in court next month long after the APEC leaders are gone. The Australian Foreign Minister sees the glass as "half full." He said the security system worked because the actors were stopped and arrested. Maybe, but when you’re spending more than $20 million a day to keep these world leaders safe, it’s not good to get "Punked." And the topper; the network that the show appears on is government owned!

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