Political Economy and the Australian Government’s CCTV Programme: An Exploration of State-Sponsored Street Cameras and the Cultivation of Consent and Business in Local Communities

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Robert Anthony Carr


This article explores the political economy of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) in Australia, providing new insights into the relationship between government policy and its economic implications. I have rationalised state-sponsored street cameras as a component in the cultivation of consent between the state and local communities; a mechanism for government to facilitate the flow of public funds to business through arrangements that are virtually unchecked and non-evidence based; a mechanism for government to facilitate profitable opportunities in and beyond the security technologies industry; and, a mechanism to normalise hegemonic social and political relations at the level of discourse. This article explores how government has assisted growth in the security industry in Australia. I draw on a case study about Kiama Municipal Council’s decision in 2014 to accept funding from the Abbott Government to install CCTV cameras through the Safer Streets Programme. This is despite historically low crime rates in Kiama and an inability to demonstrate broad support for the programme in the local community. This study reveals how politicians have cultivated support for CCTV at the local level and pressured councils to install these systems despite a lack of evidence they reduce, deter or prevent crime. Examined is how the footage captured on local council CCTV has been distributed and its meanings mediated by political and commercial groups. I argue that the politics of CCTV dissemination in Australia is entwined with the imperatives of electoral success and commercial opportunity—a coalescent relationship evident in the Safer Streets Programme. Furthermore, the efficacy of CCTV as an electoral tool in Australia is explained via the proposition that street cameras perform a central role in the discourses and political economy of the state.

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Author Biography

Robert Anthony Carr, University of Western Sydney

Dr Robert Carr is a researcher at the University of Western Sydney.