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Sydney evacuation plan revealed

SMH | August 5, 2005
By Tom Allard

Workers and residents in Sydney's CBD would be evacuated to three zones under an emergency plan unveiled today by Premier Morris Iemma.

Mr Iemma unveiled a map - complete with arrows - showing where people should go if a terrorist attack occurred.

- Those in "City North" - incorporating the financial district - would head into the Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens.

- People in "Mid-City" - covering Town Hall and the Pitt Street Mall - would evacuate into Hyde, Cook and Philip parks

- Those in "City South" - including Haymarket - would move north-west into Darling Harbour.

Emergency marshalls would help direct the evacuation.

Mr Iemma dismissed concerns that the map - available online at http://www.emergency.nsw.gov.au - would supply sensitive information to potential terrorists.

The evacuation plan would provide public reassurance, he said.

"It's a question of balance. We need these marsalls in place and we need these plans in place. We know that when an attack does occur there is the risk of confusion and further injury. It is about managing the risk," Mr Iemma said.

"People are entitled to get information as to where they go."

Asked whether he had just tipped off terrorists where to place a secondary explosive device, Mr Iemma said: "Not at all."

"The attacks in New York, Madrid and London have shaped the way the NSW Government's Counter Terrorism and Disaster Recovery Unit developed the plan."

"Experience shows getting timely, accurate information to the community is crucial during a terrorist attack or emergency.

"Half a million people work, live and visit Sydney's CBD everyday - their safety and security is paramount."

Other elements of the plan include:

- SydneyALERT: A secure information network providing messages from police to building managers, security staff and chief fire wardens across the CBD by email, text, telephone and facsimile.

- Sydney Safety Sites and Marshals. Police will command safety sites, assisted by the NSW Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.

- State Coordination Centre designed to ensure a co-ordinated response between federal and State government agencies in the event of an emergency

- A website (www.emergency.nsw.gov.au) designed to provide up-to-date information on any terrorist incident or emergency

Other measures under development include:

- A siren and public address system

- Variable Message Signs in key CBD locations to give directions and advice to people on the streets


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