The federal government has bought at least 3100 DJI drones, with CSIRO home to more than half of the device fleet.
An “audit” of drone numbers, conducted by Senator James Paterson via questions on notice to agencies, uncovered a total of 3114 drones in operation.
The number could be higher; Paterson notes several agencies declined to disclose usage or numbers, though ballpark figures for some are known.
As reported by iTnews in May, Home Affairs and Defence suspended their use of DJI drones after questions from Paterson.
Paterson has used recent senate hearings to raise security concerns over the use of the drones, as well as Chinese-made CCTV cameras, which are subject to restrictions in the United States.
In a statement, Paterson pressed the government to “urgently order a government-wide grounding of all DJI drone fleets.”
He also said there needed to be “a more systemic, robust and proactive model” across the government to identify and act on potential threats to national security.
“Earlier this month, I called on the Albanese Government to establish a new office within the Department of Home Affairs to assess security threats from high-risk technology originating from authoritarian countries,” Paterson said.
“This office should map and remove problematic technology already embedded in government systems, while also assessing emerging technologies before they are deployed to ensure appropriate mitigations are in place.”
Paterson has also called for a grounding or suspension of use of the drones to be extended beyond government to critical infrastructure sectors as well, where cyber security efforts and laws have been ramped up in recent years.