Victorian audit puts Chinese-made cameras in the frame
The Victorian government is auditing surveillance cameras in government buildings and precincts amid rising concerns over the Chinese-made devices.
Close to 1000 security cameras and other recording systems linked to the Chinese Communist Party are installed in federal government buildings, the Commonwealth confirmed earlier this month.
The Australian Defence Force is auditing the Chinese-manufactured Hikvision and Dahua devices, while dozens of cameras have already been removed from federal government offices.
Victoria's department of government services was doing its own audit of security cameras in the state's government buildings and precincts, a spokesman told AAP.
Premier Daniel Andrews could not be drawn on whether he was concerned some cameras were compromised.
"I don't think that serves anybody's interests," he told reporters on Wednesday.
Data published in The Age on Wednesday showed there were 9000 internet-enabled Hikvision cameras operating in metropolitan Melbourne.
There were hundreds more installed across the regional cities of Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton.
The City of Greater Geelong was replacing a number of Hikvision and other Chinese-branded CCTV cameras, city director Gareth Smith said.
"The Geelong safe city network has Hikvision CCTV cameras at two sites which will remain online for the time being as they monitor high priority areas," Mr Smith told AAP.
"We haven't received guidance or direction from the state or federal governments about Hikvision CCTV cameras."
The City of Ballarat had Hikvision surveillance cameras installed throughout council premises although they were not connected to the internet, city corporate service director John Hausler said.
"They are installed locally and all data is recorded on a local hard drive," Mr Hausler said.
"As a result, there are no current plans to replace the cameras, although safety and risk assessments are continually undertaken."
About 65 per cent of the City of Greater Bendigo's cameras are from Hikvision although they only capture public areas, the city's acting corporate performance director said.
"They do not operate within offices or other sensitive areas. The majority of the cameras have been installed to protect city assets," Jessica Clarke-Hong told AAP in a statement.
"City staff will consider any risks associated with this camera brand and what steps, if any, need to be taken."
All three councils have not been contacted by the state or federal governments 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.