Australia’s recently formed government has maintained the existing ban which stops the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from bidding on contracts to build Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN). The new government, which took power on 18 September 2013, has listened to advise from it security agencies and upheld the ban placed by its predecessors.
Huawei is currently considered a security risk by several different nations including the USA. Its bad image stems from the fact that the company was founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army and its perceived links to the Chinese State. The USA, like Australia, has banned Huawei and a government committee reported last year that “the risks associated with Huawei and ZTE’s provision of equipment to US critical infrastructure could undermine core US national-security interests.”
The Australian Attorney-General George Brandis said the government had no plans to relax its stance on Huawei adding that “the decision of the previous government not to permit Huawei to tender for the NBN was made on advice from the national security agencies.”
“Since the election the new government has had further briefings from the national security agencies. No decision has been made by the new government to change the existing policy,” Brandis told the AFP.
Huawei had previously run an intense lobbying campaign in Canberra for the ban to be removed. According to the Australian Financial Review, the Attorney-General overruled a move by some within the new government to relax the ban on Huawei. However some members of the cabinet were reportedly against changing the previous government’s policy and had expressed concerns that allowing Huawei to bid on the NBN could be seen as a problem by the USA.
Huawei has denied having close connections to the Chinese government and has stressed that the company is 98.6% owned by its employees.