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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Sydney urged to pack for attack
By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

Sydney Harbour and the Opera House
Sydney is being urged to prepare for a possible terror attack
Residents of Australia's biggest city, Sydney, have been urged to pack a survival kit to prepare for a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.

The local authority wants people to put together an emergency "Go-Bag", including maps, food and a radio.

Officials have denied the campaign is a government attempt to create fear and enhance national security credentials ahead of elections due later this year.

Senior ministers said planning for the initiative began two years ago.

Emergency buddy

Sydney's city council said residents need to think about what they would do in the event of a terrorist attack, a natural disaster or an outbreak of a contagious disease.

An emergency Go Bag
Maps, phone numbers, insurance details
Radio, first aid kit, spare keys
Running shoes, spare change, energy bars, toilet paper
Officials have suggested they pack a special bag with items such as a first aid kit, running shoes and a baseball cap.

The list also includes toilet paper and sticky tape.

It is all part of a new advertising campaign called "Let's Get Ready Sydney".

Posters, leaflets and a website will advise people what to do if the worst happens.

They would be encouraged to team up with an emergency buddy and head to one of three designated safe sites in the city centre.

There is also a helpful suggestion for cat owners, who have been told that if disaster does strike they can carry their pet in a cotton pillowcase.

Scheme lampooned

Critics are not impressed.

A member of the Greens in Sydney said the campaign was a conspiracy by the federal government to whip up fear ahead of national elections due in the next few months.

That accusation is denied by the government of Prime Minister John Howard, who is seen by many Australian voters as a leader with strong national security credentials.

The scheme has drawn scorn from some Australian newspapers.

One cartoonist depicted a frantic woman worrying which of her designer bags to pack.

Sydney's Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, has brushed aside the criticism.

She said that cities had to be aware of the threats posed by militant groups and climate change.

The mayor has admitted, however, that she is yet to pack her own emergency survival kit.

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