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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 11 Hansard (25 September) . . Page.. 3359 ..

MR OSBORNE: Mr Speaker, I move:

That the report be noted.

This inquiry has taken a lot longer than expected because of the amount of material the committee was able to uncover. The task given to the committee was to see whether surveillance cameras had a role in preventing crime in public places, with a view to the issue surrounding the possible use of them here in the ACT. The committee received submissions from a wide range of groups and individuals, and at one stage spent a couple of days in Queensland looking at two of the systems that are in operation there - one in Brisbane covering the Queen Street Mall and Fortitude Valley, and one in the Gold Coast in the mall there. Mr Speaker, video surveillance cameras, or closed circuit television systems, are used in several countries around the world and are becoming widely used in Australia. By and large, there are two main reasons for this expansion. One is based on a public perception that certain areas of a city or town are unsafe, and the other is a recognition of business opportunities by private security companies.

It was surprising for me to learn, Mr Speaker, although with some exceptions, that the following is often a typical Australian scenario: A private security company approaches a town or city council with a proposal to sell or trial a surveillance camera system. That is not too different from what happened here in the ACT. Occasionally - I must stress the word "occasionally" - some pre-installation research would be done, but, unfortunately, this does not appear to be very common. A system of non-legally binding protocols is then worked out between the relevant parties, more than likely by the company installing the cameras, usually the local council, the police and other interested parties, and then about a dozen or so cameras are installed. Typically, and sadly, signs are not put up, so the public are unaware that they are under observation. A little while after initial installation, and usually after very little or no evaluation at all, the system is then gradually and increasingly expanded.

The two main problems with this scenario, Mr Speaker, are the worldwide lack of suitable privacy legislation and, in Australia especially, that the rapid expansion of surveillance camera systems largely appears to be industry driven and not based on accurately researched facts. The committee was surprised to learn of the number of councils around Australia that have already installed surveillance camera systems, but most do not know what the others are doing with these systems. The committee was even more surprised and extremely disappointed and concerned to learn that surveillance cameras are already in use in several public places here in the ACT without signs notifying the public and without being subject to any privacy legislation or written protocols for their use.

This committee has come up with a number of recommendations which form, we think, an appropriate step-by-step process which we believe members of this Assembly should carefully consider when assessing and debating the possible use of video surveillance. I will briefly mention those steps, Madam Deputy Speaker. Recommendation 1 requests the ACT Attorney-General to initiate a review of the use and effectiveness of video surveillance systems currently operating in this country. The reason for this,

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