The Australian War Memorial is set to remove a system of Chinese made surveillance cameras due to fears they could be operating as spyware.
Almost a dozen Hikvision devices will be pulled out in the next few months, following similar moves to remove equipment from the companies Hikvision and Dahua, revealed by The Canberra Times, at the Geelong head office of the National Disability Insurance Agency.
The concern comes after the United States and the United Kingdom restricted the sale and use of equipment from several Chinese tech companies on national security grounds. Liberal senator James Paterson has urged all government departments to "rip them out", citing intelligence experts saying the devices may be used as spyware even when users think they are turned off.
Hundreds of installed devices have been reported at Treasury through answers to questions on notice, but the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has advised none are to be found at any Prime Minister and Cabinet department sites.
But in the latest move to remove the devices, 11 Hikvision branded cameras have been found at Australian War Memorial sites, and it is advised they will be removed by mid-2023, with five to go this month.
"I welcome the War Memorial's decision to replace the existing Hikvision cameras on their site," Senator Paterson told The Canberra Times.
"A Chinese government linked surveillance company has no place on the grounds of our most sacred monument to Australians who fought and died for freedom."
In answers to Questions on Notice from Senator Paterson, the minister representing the Minister for Veterans' Affairs said 11 of the 200 CCTV cameras across all of its sites (Campbell, Mitchell and Dickson) are currently Hikvision branded cameras.
"These cameras are situated externally and monitor the building perimeter and surrounding public areas and car parks," the answer said.
"Ten cameras are located at the Campbell precinct with one located at the Mitchell precinct. A replacement program is in place to replace these cameras by mid-2023, five of which are expected to be replaced by February 2023."
The Australian War Memorial was contacted over the cameras, but did not provide a comment before deadline.
The Treasurer Jim Chalmers has advised that there are 115 devices across 13 Treasury portfolio sites, but gave no further information.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts has also advised it has five devices, while there is one at Airservices Australia and 11 at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
No such devices have been advised by Mr Albanese at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet nor its associated agencies.
Senator Paterson, who sits on the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security, has been asking all government departments and agencies about the China-linked devices, finding hundreds of Hikvision and Dahua security cameras and recorders, some apparently linked to networks.
In December, it was revealed the National Disability Insurance Agency was to replace a Hikvision closed circuit television system, with 132 cameras and four recorders, in the first quarter of this year.
The Minister for Social Services has advised the security system, which started operating in March 2019 is about to be replaced at the Geelong national office of the NDIA.
"This infrastructure will be replaced in the first quarter of 2023 with Australian government Security Committee equipment catalogue approved CCTV and NVR equipment," the answer provided by the Minister for Social Services read.
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