NBN too important to risk security, but answers needed on Huawei ban
The National Broadband Network is too important to be exposed to any security risk but the Government should explain any bans on companies from NBN tenders, the Australian Greens said today.
Responding to the news Chinese technology giant Huawei has been excluded from tenders for the NBN, Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam said "the Government is right to be cautious, but needs to make the case for the ban public".
"Huawei has operated in Australia since 2004, but this is no ordinary tender; it is the most significant infrastructure project of our generation. It will be a crucial part of communications in Australia, with a vital role to play in commerce, education, the public health system, and all levels of civil administration.
"The Government is prudent do all it can to protect the integrity of the NBN. While it is unlikely ASIO would issue a security warning for trivial reasons under these circumstances, the Government should explain the decision.
"Huawei is led by a former People's Liberation Army engineer, and the Chinese government has been accused of intercepting confidential information in cyberspace by the United States Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive. China is not alone in this regard; geo-strategically, it stands to reason the governments of nation states will do what they can to learn all they can about other nation states."
"As Huawei has not been accused of breaking any Australian laws, the Government's apparent intervention in NBN Co's tendering processes raises questions that need answering. If the Government has evidence that there is a dangerously close relationship between Huawei and Beijing's political and military interests - it should make that information public."
Senator Ludlam said it's unlikely the decision will have any significant diplomatic impact on Sino-Australian relations.