Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Critics want Go Bag gone

THE City of Sydney has spent $40,832 buying 1200 Go Bags - emergency escape kits packed with radios, torches, dust masks and other survival paraphernalia - for staff and councillors.

The Go Bags were spruiked by the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, in July in a campaign called Let's Get Ready, Sydney.

The $200,000 project, half-funded by the federal Attorney-General's Department, advised city residents and workers to prepare for a hazardous materials incident, an explosion, an outbreak of contagious disease, civil disturbance, a natural disaster or other emergencies.

An accompanying website - - advised residents that "you can carry your cat in a cotton pillowcase" but no pillowslips were included in the bags provided to council staff.

Chris Harris, a Greens councillor, has called the Go Bag a waste of ratepayers' money.

"I would rather see the $40,000 spent on environmental initiatives somewhere in the City of Sydney," he said yesterday. "It's an outdated hangover of the fear campaign of the Howard government."

Cr Harris said he received his council-issue Go Bag late last year. "I thought the wind-up radio would be good to take camping and the little torchlight was terrific so I kept that. I gave the Go Bag to my wife to take her books to uni."

The Go Bags contain first-aid kits, a bottle of water, sunscreen, tissues, a poncho, a dust mask, maps, a notepad and pen and a torch.

A spokeswoman for the City of Sydney said yesterday: "The cost of each Go-Bag is approximately $25, but you cannot put a price on safety and the city is leading by example by undertaking this emergency awareness program."

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