New Australia govt upholds ban on China’s Huawei

New Australia govt upholds ban on China’s Huawei

SYDNEY - Australia's newly elected conservative government is upholding the ban on China's Huawei Technologies Co Ltd tendering for work on the country's US$38 billion (S$47 billion) National Broadband Network (NBN), the attorney-general said on Tuesday.

The former Labor government cited cyber-security concerns when it banned Huawei, the world's largest supplier of telecoms network equipment by revenue, from bidding for contracts on the infrastructure rollout last year.

Some senior officials in the new Liberal-led Coalition government, including Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, have supported a review of the ban, raising expectations it would be scrapped.

But Attorney-General George Brandis said that after due consideration the government had decided not to change the policy, citing new briefings from Australia's national security agencies.

The move is likely to rile major trading partner China in the midst of negotiations on a free trade agreement, while pleasing Australia's traditional ally the United States where lawmakers have warned against awarding Huawei major contracts over spying fears.

"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 said in an email to Reuters.

"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," he said.

The government would not comment on advice from the national security agencies, he added.

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