• Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Defence aware of Chinese Hikvision, Dahua surveillance devices since 2018

ByGurinderbir Singh

Feb 10, 2023

The federal government has called for an end to politicking, as it reveals Australia was first made aware of Chinese-owned surveillance technologies operating in the country’s defence buildings as early as 2018.

The opposition has put pressure on the Albanese government after a Liberal-sanctioned audit revealed more than 900 Hikvision and Dahua devices were operational across departmental offices.

The Chinese companies are part-owned by the Chinese Communist Party, and if Beijing were to request any of the surveillance material it would be handed over according to the country’s national security laws.

Opposition cyber security spokesman James Paterson has led the call for the Albanese government to “rip every one of these devices out of Australian government departments and agencies”.

Defence Minister Richard Marles said the devices would be removed and warned the opposition that the matter was not political.

On Friday morning, Mr Marles said Australia had been aware of the issue as far back as 2018.

“We’ve watched Senator Paterson and (shadow home affairs spokeswoman) Karen Andrews out there trying to make political mileage of this. We are not seeking to do this,” he said.

“Defence were made aware of these cameras back in 2018, so that not only predates the last election but the one before that.

“I’m not sure how many Liberal defence ministers there have been since 2018 and the last election, but that includes the entire tenure of Peter Dutton’s time as the defence minister and nothing happened.

“So we are the government which has actually dealt with this and are removing those cameras. We’ve not sought to make politics from this, but the idea that the Liberals are out there trying to make political hay on this really is a disgrace.”

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley on Friday morning doubled down on the Coalition’s request to remove the cameras “as soon as possible”.

“And we’ll be watching and making sure that you do,” she said.

Overnight, the Chinese foreign ministry urged Australia against “overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies”.

“We oppose erroneous practices of overstretching the concept of national security and abusing state power to discriminate against and suppress Chinese companies,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

“We hope the Australian side will provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory environment for the normal operation of Chinese companies and do more things that could contribute to the mutual trust and co-operation between our two countries.”

Read related topics:China

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