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Melbourne Prepares for G-20 Summit
Meeting of world economic leaders to be held on Nov. 18, 19
Michael Clough (clough)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-15 07:16 (KST)   
Large sections of Melbourne's central business district have gone into lockdown as preparations commence for this weekend's G-20 Summit of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.

Access by vehicles in the streets around Melbourne's Grand Hyatt Hotel, where the summit is to be held will be restricted with police throwing a tight security cordon around the venue to protect the delegates at the summit to be held over two days, Nov. 18 and 19.

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The lockdown is likely to cause traffic chaos in the city and in response some businesses plan to close their door or temporary relocate staff.

What is the G-20? The G-20 is an economic group of nations, compromising a mixture of the world's wealthiest industrialized nations with some of the world's fasting growing developing nations. The purpose of the G-20 Forum is to discuss and promote ways of improving global economic stability through international co-operation. The G-20 claim to represent two thirds of the world's population and approximately 85 percent of the world's gross domestic product and 80 percent of world trade.

The forum was established in its current form in 1999 and was the brainchild of the G-7 group of nations after the Asian financial crisis of 1997. The Forum first met in 1998 as the G-22 and was expanded to the G-33 the following year before settling into the current 20-nation format.

The G-20 meets annually in the country of the current chair, which changes on a yearly basis. Australia is the G-20 chair in 2006 while South Africa will be the chair in 2007 and will host next year's meeting.

Who are the G-20? The G-20 is made up of members representing each continent, a rarity in select groups such as this although Africa is seriously underrepresented with South Africa being the only African member.

Along with South Africa and host nation Australia the members of G-20 are Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, United States of America and European Union.

Representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank will also attend the Summit.

Related activities in Melbourne
There are a number of activities planned to take place in Melbourne to coincide with the G-20 Summit, with many focusing on alleviating world poverty. The largest events are being organized by the group Make Poverty History, a coalition of some of Australia's largest church, charity and social welfare groups. Make Poverty History is co-chaired by the World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello who is the brother of G-20 Chair and Australian Treasurer Peter Costello.

The group will be holding a forum of their own on Thursday, Nov. 16 with the "Make Poverty History Forum" as well as a festival on Saturday, the first official day of the Summit. The highlight will be on Friday with the "Make Poverty History Concert" to be held at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. Inspired by Live 8, the concert will feature some of the biggest names in Australian music including Jet, Evermore, Paul Kelly, Hilltop Hoods, Eskimo Joe, John Butler Trio and Sarah Blasko.

Protest Action
As has become commonplace at economic and free trade forums in the past decade, protest action has been planned to take place during the summit. The largest of the planned protests is being organised for Saturday with both protest organizers and Victoria Police calling on the protest to be peaceful to avoid a repeat of the violent scenes of 2000 when Melbourne hosted the World Economic Forum. Despite the calls for peaceful protest, activist group Stop G-20 have on the website have included safety tips for protesters should things turn violent.
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Michael Clough

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