The Labour Party’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran has launched an attack on Prime Minister John Key and acting Prime Minister Gerry Brownlee, after the company contracted to supply equipment for two significant government infrastructure projects in New Zealand was refused a similar contract in Australia, due to concerns about cyber-attacks coming from the company’s homeland, China.
The company, Huawei Technologies, was advised not to make a bid for the National Broadband Network (NBN) contract late last year, but the move has only just come to light after it was reported by the Australian Financial Review.
Huawei released a statement yesterday saying they are involved in building broadband networks in eight countries around the world, including the UK, Singapore and Malaysia, and ‘you don’t get to that level of success unless you have customers that trust your company, your staff, and your technology’.
It seems that’s not enough for Curran, though, who has issued her own statement saying the government needs to do more to ensure the security of the UFB and RBI projects.
"The Australians are considered to be a partner in terms of our security and intelligence relationships,” Curran says.
"If they are concerned enough to ban Huawei from bidding for the broadband contract, why has New Zealand allowed three taxpayer-funded contracts [two for the UFB and one for the RBI] to go ahead without a more robust probe into the implications for the integrity of our network?”
Speaking from South Korea yesterday, Key said he had no concerns about Huawei’s involvement in the project, and that he was ‘comfortable’ with the checks that had been done.
Key’s ICT Minister, Amy Adams, has spoken further, acknowledging that security concerns were raised during the process of signing contracts, although not specifically saying that those concerns were about Huawei.
The government responded to the concerns and put appropriate checks in place, Adams says.
However, according to Curran, we need more.
"How long have John Key and other ministers known about the extent of Australia’s security concerns and what are they going to do about it? Just saying ‘trust us, it’ll be okay’ isn’t good enough.”