De­ci­sive mo­ments at the point of en­try

Border Se­cu­rity — Aus­tralia’s Front­line 7.30pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

THE last time I re­turned to Aus­tralia from over­seas, it was about 6am, four or five long- haul flights had ar­rived si­mul­ta­ne­ously, and the log­jam at the bag­gage check queues was end­less.

Af­ter a while I wearily pulled out a book, bal­anced it on my trol­ley and started to read. Within min­utes, a Cus­toms of­fi­cer ap­peared from nowhere and waved me through to the wide open world out­side.

Is it pos­si­ble to play roulette and win?

OK, for the record, I wasn’t car­ry­ing any con­tra­band, so al­though I felt oddly vic­to­ri­ous at the time, I hardly cheated the house.

Dam­mit, chalk up an­other vic­tory for the folks at border con­trol.

We Aussies place quite a bit of trust in our nurses, pi­lots, An­zacs and, I pre­sume, our Cus­toms of­fi­cers.

And Border Se­cu­rity ( which, let’s face it, can hardly nail peo­ple who do beat the sys­tem) is like a half- hour ad­ver­tise­ment for our seem­ingly un­flap­pable ser­vice­men and women, with a lib­eral dose of Big Brother thrown in: will our of­fend­ers be kicked out or locked up?

The only other rea­son I can think of why 1.8 mil­lion peo­ple tune in to the show ev­ery week is that se­cretly ev­ery one of us wants to be the per­son who de­cides whom to ques­tion and whom to let through.

In this episode, a pas­sen­ger ar­riv­ing from The Philip­pines has paid more than a month’s salary to visit Syd­ney for a few days, af­ter re­cent overnight trips to Hong Kong and China. Un­der cross- ex­am­i­na­tion, he con­fesses to a burn­ing de­sire to see the Har­bour Tower.

‘‘ You’re mak­ing this up as you go

Cus­toms along,’’ says Cus­toms of­fi­cer Greg.

Time to dig deeper. Or bet­ter still, frisk him.

This is fam­ily- hour de­tec­tive work with­out the pond scum and swear­words of life on the streets: all the dig­ging can be done from the sani­tised en­vi­ron­ment of the air­port and the mail room.

Tonight’s episode isn’t out­stand­ing, but it’s worth watch­ing, if only to watch the the­atri­cal per­for­mance of this week’s up­set pas­sen­ger who car­ries on like a pork chop over a mat­ter that re­ally does not mat­ter all that much, at least to any rea­son­able per­son sit­ting in the com­fort of their lounge­room. Stress­ful flights, stress­ful predica­ments, stress­ful en­tries to a for­eign land we take for granted. Ev­ery show, if not ev­ery flight, must have one.

In an­other arm of the Cus­toms ma­chine, known as Bio- Se­cu­rity, an of­fi­cer has dis­cov­ered what ap­pear to be snakes in a cou­ple of in­bound parcels.

Will the rep­tiles make it out alive? Al­most as sig­nif­i­cantly, will our Cus­toms of­fi­cers? Al­ready, the sus­pense is killing me.

Lara Sin­clair

Great job, folks: Border Se­cu­rity pro­ducer Dan Meenan with Cus­toms of­fi­cers

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