The City of Sydney's response to today's hostage situation at Martin Place was managed under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act that defines the roles and responsibilities of emergency services, government agencies, utility providers and transport services to respond to and recover from emergency incidents.
Representatives from NSW Police, emergency services, transport services, utility providers and the City of Sydney meet regularly and practice how to respond and protect the community in the event of an emergency such as this.
The City has planned intensively over many years for emergencies such as this. Just a couple of weeks ago, we invited counter-terrorism police to brief Council, and they confirmed to Councillors that they are satisfied with the work the City is doing in this area.
A "Sydney Alert" system has also been established to send text messages and emails to the City of Sydney and the managers of major buildings in the CBD advising them of emergency situations. It was these alerts which kept the city managers informed and which advised us to keep staff indoors throughout the day as the situation unfolded.
City staff meet regularly to practice our crisis management and emergency response protocols. For years, we have had a crisis centre set up offsite which is always ready in an emergency. We have a crisis and emergency management plan and a number of supporting plans.
As soon as the crisis began, we began implementing our emergency protocols.
A senior staff member from our CCTV network moved straight to the Police Operations Centre where all agencies convene. This becomes an emergency management centre for as long as the emergency lasts. We are well practiced at this at the City because it's what we do every New Year's Eve.
We received direct requests from the emergency management centre including:
- Providing a direct CCTV feed to Police to help monitor and control the situation
- Providing barricades for road closures;
- Providing access to Hyde Park to establish a marshalling area; and
- Providing access to health and building information such as plans for buildings.
On the advice of NSW Police we cancelled tonight's Christmas activities to help NSW Police manage the city safely. We also closed several pools today.
Around 1,500 students from North Sydney Girls High School were at their speech day at Sydney Town Hall today when the situation developed. The City worked with teachers to ensure the students were safe.