Australian government to uphold Huawei ban

29 October 2013 |

Australia’s newly elected conservative government said today that it will uphold the decision to ban Chinese vendor Huawei from bidding for a contract on Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) roll-out.

Huawei was initially banned from participation in the $38 billion NBN project in March last year by the former Labor government.

According to local reports, a number of senior Liberal officials wanted to review the decision with a view to abandoning it, but attorney-general George Brandis announced today that further briefings from national security agencies meant that the ban would remain.

“No decision has been made by the new government to change the existing policy,” Brandis confirmed.

"The decision of the previous government not to permit Huawei to tender for the NBN was made on advice from the national security agencies. That decision was supported by the then opposition after we received our own briefings from those agencies."

Huawei has been at the centre of cyber-spying speculations from the US over the last year and the decision is likely to strengthen Australia’s collaboration with the US in the sector.

However, it could have detrimental effects to Australia’s strong trading relationship with China, as well as the UK, which announced its support for Huawei last year.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told a Beijing newspaper: “We...consistently oppose using national security concerns as a pretext to interfere with the two countries’ normal economic cooperation.”

"We hope all sides can make joint efforts to engage in normal cooperation and create good conditions for each others' companies on the basis of market principles and on the foundation of mutual respect and equality."

Speaking to Reuters, Huawei spokesperson Jeremy Mitchell expressed his belief that a lift on the ban in Australia was still being considered.

This is not the first time that the Chinese vendor has attempted to strengthen its presence in Australia. In October last year, the company put forward a proposition for a cyber security centre in the country, as part of a pledge to become “more transparent”.

The NBN network has not been hitting its targets for completion and in March this year, the company announced that the project had experienced a three month delay due to a problem with its workforce.