Event group grilled on WA terror security

Facial recognition cameras have been considered at Perth’s Optus Stadium, an inquiry has been told.Visitors to Perth’s new Optus Stadium could be monitored by the same hi-tech facial recognition cameras used during the Sydney Ashes cricket Test, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

VenuesWest, which manages some of WA’s biggest entertainment venues, considered using facial recognition technology at the stadium as part of a broader security plan to protect event-goers from a possible terror attack.

“We have the technical capability to do that at Optus Stadium, it would just take some software and a few little changes,” chief executive David Etherton told the inquiry on Wednesday.

He said other major venues also had the CCTV infrastructure for the technology.

Mr Etherton went on the defensive when inquiry members, including chair Peter Katsambanis, criticised the lack of oversight for the agency’s terrorism response plans.

“There seems to be a ‘leave it to the experts and she’ll be right’ attitude,” Mr Katsambanis said.

VenuesWest has an emergency management response plan, which guides security and other employees on their response to terror-related incidents, including their communication with WA police and emergency services.

Inquiry members were visibly bemused when Mr Etherton said VenuesWest’s plans were not shared with parliament or cabinet.

“How does VenuesWest assure the government of the day they’ve got things under control in that respect if they don’t see that security plan?” MP Zak Kirkup asked.

Mr Etherton questioned whether there was anyone in cabinet with the expertise capable of assessing a counter-terrorism security plan.

The City of Perth also fronted the inquiry and highlighted several areas in the CBD where security remains a concern, including at major intersections and Perth Arena.

City of Perth director of community and commercial services Rebecca Moore said the city had been very lucky.

“We’re aware we actually operate under a lower threat than places like Sydney and Melbourne,” Ms Moore said.

The local government authority has installed bollards in the main malls and monitored areas where crowds were likely to gather.

However, City of Perth chief executive Martin Mileham said the threat of an attack had little impact on visitor numbers.

He said more people avoided the city due to day-to-day anti-social behaviour than the threat of terrorism.

The Community Development and Justice Standing Committee will conduct further hearings over the coming weeks and is expected to deliver its report in November.