26 June 2020

UPDATED: "Soviet-style" CCTV cameras put up at public housing locations

| Dominic Giannini
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Public housing residents came home this week to see newly installed CCTV cameras covered with barbed wire. Photos: Supplied.

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.”

Public housing residents came home this week to see newly installed CCTV cameras covered with barbed wire.

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.


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I understand that some people are conditioned from their Cold War childhood to characterize everything they do not like as to be the “Soviet-style”. From my side I can say that I grew up in the Soviet Union and do not recall any cameras in residential areas or streets. In fact, the famous novel “1984” by George Orwell, which many saw when released as a satire on the Soviet Union, looks to me to be more about the 21st century West, Australia included. Looking in past, I see the Soviet Government with its notorious KGB to be a hopeless loser in matter of control over citizens when compared with the present-day counterparts in Western countries.

HiddenDragon7:37 pm 27 Jun 20

Details of the ACT Social Credit System will presumably be released after the October election.

Mike of Canberra3:56 pm 27 Jun 20

As per usual, we see an article concerning public housing that goes halfway around the world while missing the obvious centre of attention: how to deal with the miscreants that give all public housing tenants a bad name. I’ve seen up close the problems that the miscreants can cause in terms of messy properties that spoil otherwise neat residential areas, anti-social behaviour that disrupts the lives of neighbouring residents and, perhaps worst of all, the constant spectre of crime on your doorstep. I’ve been assured in the past that no more than around 3% of public housing tenants create these sorts of problems for their neighbours and others living in the broader local area. Well now it seems that the most effective way to address the problems created by these miscreants is to spy on everyone, including those who play by the rules. Would it not be more effective risk management for Housing ACT to strictly enforce its own tenancy rules, with a focus in resource terms on dealing with the troublemakers and other problem tenants? The rule should be, especially in terms of criminal or other anti-social behaviour, or failure to pay rent, an initial focus on improving the conduct of such problem tenants, followed by firmer action up to and including eviction for those who simply refuse to play by the rules even when offered every facilitation to do so. Perhaps this could be done on a “3 strikes and you’re out basis”. Enforce the standing tenancy requirements firmly and I think we’d soon see a marked improvement not only in property management outcomes but also in the level of crime, anti-social behaviour and disruption to neighbouring residents. Then we wouldn’t need spy cameras would we? But this is beyond a tired old hubristic government isn’t it?

Maybe the cameras were put there due to them being high crime areas?

No different to the CCTV cameras in Civic.

Hahaha – well reported Mr Parton. The Labor/Greens Police state was obviously embarrassed being caught out putting cameras up before the election. Just wait until after.
“‘Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you.”

I am assuming you don’t have a smart phone?

Capital Retro8:49 pm 29 Jun 20

A smart person doesn’t need a smart phone, JC. I assume that you don’t have one either.

Capital Retro10:06 pm 26 Jun 20

“Mysteriously taken down”

They’ve been nicked.

What’s the big deal? Don’t most apartment developments have CCTV these days? I grant that few would be this ugly, but no-one can claim they are covert

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