SYDNEY, Australia – Residents of Australia’s largest city are being urged to create survival bags to prepare for terrorist attacks and other emergencies under a campaign launched by city council Tuesday.
The “Go Bags,” featured in the new terrorism awareness campaign, would include maps, a radio, a first aid kit, an extra set of keys, some spare change and important documents.
The campaign, similar to one in New York after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, urges Sydney residents to consider how they would make contact with friends and relatives during a terrorist attack or other emergency, when mobile phone services are often disrupted.
The council’s acting chief executive, Garry Harding, said Sydney residents need to prepare for a serious incident like a terror attack.
“You can’t ignore what’s happened overseas, you know we’re all aware of that,” Harding told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Critics said the campaign was unnecessary, and some ridiculed some of the advice it included — such as packing toilet paper rolls and using a pillow case to carry pet cats who might not want to leave home.
“This is yet another campaign that basically injects more fear into our lives,” said Deputy Lord Mayor Chris Harris, who was among a minority of councilors to oppose the campaign.
Anthony Moorhouse, a consultant for companies that send staff to danger zones, said the idea of a quick evacuation kit was good but that some items being recommended for inclusion could mean people wouldn’t take it seriously.
Packing a radio and first-aid kit would be beneficial, but the need for toilet paper was questionable, he said.
“I guess the City of Sydney assumes that there’ll be some sort of toilet roll crisis in a flood, or any given emergency,” Moorhouse told ABC radio.
Australia is a close ally of the United States in its fight against terrorism, and has sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. Prime Minister John Howard has warned Australians that they could be targets for terrorists.