Broader terror drill might hit Melbourne

Christine McGinn

Melbourne's preparations for terror attacks could include a trial mass evacuation.

Police on Tuesday conducted the first large-scale test of a new emergency public warning system, with alarms and a spoken broadcast blaring from speakers at 65 locations across the city.

"The harsh reality of today's world is that we need to be prepared. We are now prepared," Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane told reporters.

"We know in NSW ... they've really tested their evacuation for Sydney and that's on the planning books for us as well," Mr Leane said.

"We may go away in another location and try that, and eventually one day we may very well ask the community to be involved."

Mr Leane said police would co-operate with emergency service partners over the next six months to conduct a test and understand how the city evacuation plan would work.

Melbourne's network of speakers is designed to broadcast an alarm and alert for emergencies, including a terror attack, riot, siege or hostage event.

Another 60 speakers at 30 locations across the city are due to be added by the end of the year, with police being trained to operate the speakers.

During Tuesday's test, a siren blared before the audio message was delivered.

"Attention, attention, attention. This is a message from Victoria Police. This is a test of Melbourne's public address system. The sound you just heard is the standard emergency warning signal."

Many pedestrians looked up at the speakers and turned towards police officers stationed at each location, without breaking their stride. Others came to a standstill to listen to the message.

Police Minister Lisa Neville told reporters she hoped the speakers would never have to be used for an emergency but it was "a really important additional tool" for police.

"In the future, it has the opportunity for the City of Melbourne to use them (speakers) for things like White Night, New Year's Eve, to guide people with really important information," she said.

The speakers are connected to the City of Melbourne's camera network.