'Lunatic fringe' behind council bomb hoax

A bomb threat involving a package which reportedly contained syringes triggered the evacuation of Wingecarribee Shire Council’s administrative building  in Moss Vale on Thursday.

A ‘‘threatening message’’ concerning council rates was found attached to the package, and has since been passed on to police.

Staff were evacuated about 9am, and emergency services personnel closed several roads surrounding the building while a rescue bomb appraisal officer investigated.

The all clear was given just prior to 10am.

Goulburn police inspector Anthony McLean said the package would be sent away for analysis as part of the investigation.

He said he would not comment specifically on what the package contained, other than to say it was deemed ‘‘not suspicious’’.

Insp McLean said it was likely to be some time before any charges were laid.

He said there were ‘‘other matters’’ also being investigated in relation to the incident.

Wingecarribee council deputy mayor Larry Whipper blamed a ‘‘lunatic fringe’’ element in the Southern Highlands community for the hoax.

He said the continued bomb threats were ‘‘very traumatic’’ for some staff members.

“It’s a bit of a worry, it must be very disturbing for staff who spend a lot of time in the building,” Cr Whipper said. “One must assume there’s a certain madness in the air pervading the local shire at the moment.

“We’ll just have to wait and see who it is and understand the lunatic fringe that seems to be out there,’’ he said.

The council’s acting general manager Ann Prendergast said the evacuation of the building was undertaken as a precaution.

‘‘When the package was found [on Thursday] morning, emergency services were called and the police and fire brigade attended to secure the area and investigate,’’ she said.

‘‘Thankfully the package was not an explosive device and once emergency services checked the entire building, we reopened for business.

‘‘The threatening messages received about the rates matter have been passed onto Police.

‘‘Council wishes to thank both the local Fire Brigade and Police officers who attended and dealt with the matter with great professionalism and calm.’’

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