Under the Sydney plan, modelled on how British police handled last month’s deadly bombings in London, an emergency command centre will use SMS texting, email and telephones to alert security managers and fire wardens in some 1,500 buildings in Sydney’s central business district.
Scores of civilian marshals drawn from volunteer firefighters or emergency service workers would handle the crowds and tell them how they can return home.
At a press conference attended by Sydney’s top police officers New South Wales state Premier Morris Iemma rebuffed suggestions his rushed counter-terrorism plan, announced just three days after he took office, could frighten Sydney residents into thinking an attack was imminent.
“People are entitled to get information as to where they go because we know that when an attack or an incident does occur, there is confusion, there is fear, and were trying to manage that,” he said.
Prime Minister John Howard meanwhile announced he had called the leaders of Australia’s eight states and territories to a summit meeting to discuss further tightening the country’s counter-terrorism defences in light of the London bombings.
The summit, tentatively scheduled for late next month, will focus on transport security, anti-terrorism legislation, “identity security” and ways to deal with those who advocate or incite terrorism, Howard said.
Mr Howard’s government has also passed a raft of controversial legislation boosting the powers of police and other agencies to deal with suspected terrorists.
Australia is a key US ally and the government has already spent billions of dollars on counter-terrorism measures since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
Mr Howard said one controversial proposal on the table next month would be the possible introduction of an Australian national identity card.