A dozen four-metre tall, bright red and yellow security cameras covered in barbed wire were put up at public housing sites around Canberra this week before mysteriously being taken down days later.
Residents in public housing complexes in Canberra’s inner north near where the cameras were temporarily located have complained about the lack of consultation, saying they returned home to find the cameras installed.
Shadow Minister for Housing Mark Parton said he is still perplexed as to why the cameras were installed, and then what influenced the Government to take them down only a few days later.
“I had a number of conversations with people in that space and they said it was all a complete surprise to them,” Mr Parton said.
“When you come home one day and rock up to your complex and there are four of them, you just wonder ‘what the hell is going on here?’
“Nobody has a clue what Big Brother Barr’s surveillance experiment is about because just as soon as the cameras were up, they have quickly been removed.”
While some of the cameras were taken down, two cameras remained at Braddon Court and one was still at Kanangra Court but had been folded down as of Thursday night (25 June) when Mr Parton posted a Facebook video regarding the cameras.
The Government said the cameras were installed to increase security and reduce the need for on-site security personnel but admitted it was a mistake to install the cameras without consulting tenants.
“While Housing ACT discussed the initiative with stakeholders as part of canvassing options to make the site safe, consultation with tenants had not been undertaken,” a Government spokesperson said.
“The cameras were pre-emptively installed to the site without the necessary consultation. The cameras should not have been installed and as such have been removed.
“It is important to note that the cameras were not recording or transmitting footage whilst they were on site. The cameras that were installed all pointed into the common areas and carpark areas of the complex to ensure tenants’ privacy.”
The ACT Government spent $8,000 installing and removing the cameras between 17 June and 25 June 2020.
Although tenants were not consulted, a working group had been established in 2019 to address inadequate lighting and safety measures, a Government spokesperson said.
“In early 2019, a working group was formed to ensure the safety of residents, people on-site (such as Housing ACT staff, programmed maintenance and social workers) and the public in the area.
“Further to this, in October 2019 Housing ACT commenced the Connecting Communities strategy along the Ainslie Avenue precinct. This strategy is a new tenancy model which focuses on obtaining better social outcomes for residents of the Ainslie precinct, as well as the broader Canberra community.”
Mr Parton called it has been “a pretty nasty ordeal for tenants who weren’t consulted let alone warned”.
*This story has been updated to include comments from an ACT Government spokesperson.
Why did this tired old government install a dozen massive CCTV cameras in the inner north last week….and then take them all down this week ?
Posted by Mark Parton MLA on Thursday, 25 June 2020