The emperor has no clothes, says high-profile economist Saul Eslake. Why didn’t one of us travel writers dare to pen this biting piece about the absurdities of airport security a long time ago? It took an economist to spell it out for us… How much longer should any self-respecting Australian endure this supposedly random wait-whilst-I-check-for-explosives pantomime?
Often it’s about pandering to American phobias, post-9/11. How would I know? The last time I passed through Bangkok, one of the local politicians had just let the cat out of the bag. Airport security officials baulked at obeying a directive to ease up on trouser belt removals, because, as they admitted, if the American aviation authorities get wind of it they might blacklist the offending airport.
No such fear applies to domestic flight operations in many countries, hence my unexpectedly pleasant experience recently in Christchurch, New Zealand: “straight through the door and up the stairs [onto the aircraft], thank you sir!” Haere mai, indeed.
By the way, Eslake has also had the temerity to question whether price-busting foreign bananas would really represent a threat to the nation’s biosecurity, or might it be that quarantine concerns always make a convenient fig-leaf for self-interested scaremongering. That man is a threat to our national xenophobia. But I digress.