Victorian Audit Frames Chinese-Made Cameras

The Victorian government is auditing surveillance cameras in government buildings and precincts amid growing concerns over Chinese-made devices.

Nearly 1,000 security cameras and other recording systems associated with the Chinese Communist Party are installed in federal government buildings. The Federation confirmed earlier this month.

The Australian Defense Force is auditing Chinese-made Hikvision and Dahua devices, while dozens of cameras have already been removed from federal offices.

Victoria’s Department of Government Services has conducted its own audits of security cameras in government buildings and precincts, a spokesman told AAP.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews could not say whether he was concerned that some cameras were compromised.

“I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest,” he told reporters Wednesday.

There were 9,000 Internet-enabled Hikvision cameras operating in the Melbourne metropolitan area, according to data published in The Age on Wednesday.

Hundreds more were installed in the regional cities of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura and Shepperton.

The city of Greater Geelong is replacing a number of Hikvision and other Chinese brand CCTV cameras, Mayor Gareth Smith said.

“Geelong’s secure city network has Hikvision CCTV cameras at two sites and will remain online for the time being to monitor high-priority areas,” Smith told AAP.

“We have not received any guidance or instructions from the state or federal government for Hikvision CCTV cameras.”

In the city of Ballarat, Hikvision surveillance cameras were installed on parliamentary grounds, although they were not connected to the internet, said John Hausler, the city’s director of corporate services.

“They are installed locally and all data is recorded to the local hard drive,” Hausler says.

“As a result, there are no current plans to replace the camera, although safety and risk assessments are ongoing.”

About 65% of Greater Bendigo’s cameras are made by Hikvision, but they only capture public areas, said the city’s deputy corporate performance director.

“They are not operating in offices or other sensitive areas. Most of the cameras are installed to protect city property,” Jessica Clarke-Hong told the AAP in a statement.

“City officials will consider the risks associated with this camera brand and what actions, if any, should be taken.”

All three councils have not been contacted by the state or federal government regarding the cameras.

Some Chinese-made devices are already banned in the US and UK.

Commonwealth Defense Minister Richard Mulls reassured Australians earlier this month that the surveillance system was not a spy camera.