Thursday, 28 February 2019 15:27

Australia firm on Huawei ban even if US wavers: Payne Featured

Marise Payne: "Australia has made our decision in relation to 5G." Marise Payne: "Australia has made our decision in relation to 5G." Courtesy YouTube

Australian Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne does not think there will be in any change in the decision to ban the Chinese telecommunications equipment firm Huawei Technologies from playing a role in the country's 5G networks.

Asked during a doorstop while on a one-day visit to London on Wednesday whether any change was possible in view of the US appearing to somewhat change its view on the matter, Senator Payne said: "I think that is a hypothetical, but I have no reason to think that Australia will be changing our position."

In recent days, US President Donald Trump has tweeted saying, "I want 5G, and even 6G, technology in the United States as soon as possible. It is far more powerful, faster, and smarter than the current standard. American companies must step up their efforts, or get left behind.

"There is no reason that we should be lagging behind on something that is so obviously the future. I want the United States to win through competition, not by blocking out currently more advanced technologies. We must always be the leader in everything we do, especially when it comes to the very exciting world of technology!"

Senator Payne was asked whether "the noises coming out of the US" were any reason for the Australian Government to have any pause for thought on the matter.

She replied: "I think that is a matter for the United States. Australia remains committed to the decision we made and announced last year.

"To protect Australia's national security, we would ensure that the development of our 5G network, those who participate in the 5G network, must have no other - we don't want anyone in our communications networks that have an a obligation to any other government."

Australia announced a ban on Huawei and another Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, in August last year. Britain, which has had a long association with Huawei, said recently that any risk posed by the Chinese company was manageable.

"Because of our 15 years of dealings with the company and 10 years of a formally agreed mitigation strategy which involves detailed provision of information, we have a wealth of understanding of the company," Ciaran Martin, the chief executive of the UK National Cyber Security Centre, told a conference in Brussels last week.

And Jeremy Fleming, the head of Britain's main spy agency, Government Communications Headquarters, has voiced similar sentiments.

When asked whether she would have any message about Huawei for her British counterpart, Jeremy Hunt, Senator Payne responded: "Australia has made our decision in relation to 5G. It is a decision we made in the context of protecting Australia's national security from using the strong advice of intelligence agencies on that matter."

"The decision of other countries is a sovereign one for them. But I am always happy to share with appropriate counterparts that sort of information that is appropriate, and that I am able to share, in terms of Australia's decision."

Apart from the US which has led the way in banning Huawei, only New Zealand has said it would block a move by telco Spark to use Huawei gear in its 5G rollout. But Wellington has now indicated that this is not the end of the matter.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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