The Victorian government is auditing surveillance cameras in government buildings and precincts owing to worries over Chinese-made devices. Close to 1000 security cameras and other recording systems connected to the Chinese Communist Party have been installed in federal government buildings, as confirmed by the Commonwealth earlier this month. The Australian Defence Force is assessing the Chinese-manufactured Hikvision and Dahua devices, and dozens of cameras have already been taken out of federal government offices. In response, Victoria’s department of government services is conducting its own audit of security cameras in the state’s government buildings and precincts, a spokesman stated to AAP.
When asked if he was concerned some cameras were compromised, Premier Daniel Andrews said, “I don’t think that serves anybody’s interests.” Data published in The Age on Wednesday showed there were 9000 internet-enabled Hikvision cameras operating in metropolitan Melbourne, and hundreds more in the regional cities of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton. The City of Greater Geelong is replacing a number of Hikvision and other Chinese-branded CCTV cameras, according to city director Gareth Smith. He mentioned that two sites with Hikvision CCTV cameras will remain online since they monitor high priority areas.
The City of Ballarat has Hikvision surveillance cameras installed throughout council premises, however they are not connected to the internet, as reported by city corporate service director John Hausler. About 65 percent of the City of Greater Bendigo’s cameras are from Hikvision, and only capture public areas, according to acting corporate performance director Jessica Clarke-Hong. She stated that they do not operate within offices or other sensitive areas, and that staff will consider any risks associated with this camera brand and what steps, if any, need to be taken.
The state or federal governments have not contacted the three councils in relation to the cameras. Some of the Chinese-manufactured devices have already been banned in the United States and Great Britain. Federal Defence Minister Richard Marles earlier this month reassured Australians the surveillance systems were not spy cameras.