I spent a couple of hours this morning in the company of the Australian Federal Police Bomb Squad, members of Star Security and a bloke called Dave.
No, I wasn't under arrest. I was instead in the company of these fine fellows, and a bomb-sniffing dog, while they checked the National Tally Room for explosive devices.
I was scheduled to meet the guys from the Bomb Squad at nine am but they turned up ten minutes late, a quirk that you hope doesn't occur when they actually have a real callout.
While the dog went about it's search with the handler I watched with the rest of the cops and shot the breeze. Topics of choice were the recent gas explosion in Queenbeyan, which they had all attended, the amount of work and training they had been doing recently and the bloke in Mackay who had dropped a vibrator in a rubbish bin and caused an evacuation and five hour delay at the airport. No talk on the latest primers, techonogical advancement in high explosive materials or Australian Idol. I was pleased to hear nothing about the latter but was hoping for at least some tech talk. However, i wasn't to be dissapointed as that was when Dave rocked up to see what all the commotion was about.
Dave was working for the contractors installing the National Tally Room and particularly all the electrics. 250 double power points have been installed into the empty cavern of the Budawang Building along with over 100 phonelines, several hundred meters of phone cable, way too many high speed internet connections and a new floor. The Tally Board is up and waiting for business. Most of the tables on the floor of the room are completed and all that needs to be done is the final rigging of some of the electrics. Dave was complaining that after all the effort probably only a third of the power points and half of the phonelines would be used. He proudly pointed out that they were ahead of schedule but admited later on that they were no longer as far ahead of schedule as they were on Thursday, but at least they could start 8 hour days instead of the thirteen that had been the previous norm.
The room itself is only half finished with only ABC and Nine having started their temporary studios at the back of the room (No sign yet of the private port-a-loo that Roy & HG demanded during the last election or the giant mirror in the Nine dressing room). Ten and Seven have only chalk marks on the floor to indicate their presence. Each studio runs off a private generator and the entire Tally Room has a back up generator that was being installed and tested as i left the site. A new welcome addition to the room is a proper walkway behind the Tally Board where previous there was a 40cm gap that staffers had to squeeze through to change the numbers.
Dave, flicking ash at his feet, left me with an assurance that it takes two weeks of 12 hours days to get everything in but only two days to tear it down and that he was kind of concerned that neither Ten or Seven had yet to rock up but he had other things to worry about as Workcover were coming out to check the site and the generator needed to be tested and if they were still hammering in the set at 6pm on Saturday it was their own bloody fault.
The Bomb Squad had found nothing in their search, not even a discarded sex toy, and so sat about waiting for the Fire Department to rock up to do their check. My security escort had long since left so i took the opportunity for one last wander through the construction site that will soon show the nation it's government for the next three years. Like our Government it is a facade that masks a complete shambles behind the scenes but as long as there are blokes like Dave proping it up maybe there is a little hope after all.