27 Mar 2012

NZ Govt comfortable with Huawei involvement

9:19 pm on 27 March 2012

The Government says it is not concerned about the involvement of Chinese electronics giant Huawei's involvement in the telecommunications sector in New Zealand despite security concerns in Australia.

Huawei has been shut out of Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) contracts following cyber attacks originating in China.


The company has strong relationships in New Zealand, supplying equipment to Chorus and 2Degrees, and working with Christchurch's Enable Services and the central North Island's Wel Networks as part of the Government's ultra-fast broadband initiative.

Huawei operates in more than 100 countries and has been in New Zealand since 2005. It is headed by a former People's Liberation Army engineer and has been struggling to expand its business in the United States due to security concerns.

China has been accused of stealing secrets in cyberspace by the US Office of National Counterintelligence Executive, which identifies foreign intelligence threats.

Communications Minister Amy Adams says she is satisfied with the security of New Zealand's telecommunications and broadband systems and is relaxed about Huawei's involvement.

"I'm aware, obviously, of Australians' decision to exclude them from the NBN and that's their decision.

"We take security of the network very seriously, but we've obviously responded to the threats we're aware of and put in place steps to deal with that. We're comfortable with where we're at."

But Mrs Adams says she has not asked Australian authorities why they have excluded Huawei from its National Broadband Network contracts.

Greens want investigation

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes says that is not good enough and the Government should investigate why Australia has taken the action it has.

Greens co-leader Russel Norman has written to the Prime Minister, asking the Intelligence and Security Committee to investigate Huawei.

Mr Hughes, the Greens' information and communication technology spokesperson, says Huawei has been blocked in both Australia and the United States over security concerns and it is hard to believe New Zealand's security agencies know something that American and Australian agencies do not.

Mr Hughes says cyber warfare is a major security concern and the Government needs to ensure it is protecting New Zealand's interests.

"I think, given the concerns we've seen in Australia and America regarding this company, it's incumbent on the Government to look further into it.

"I understand the Prime Minister's received some advice, but I do think we need an investigation into these very serious and legitimate concerns."

The Labour Party also says it is shocked the Government has not asked Australian authorities why they blocked Huawei.

But Alexander Downer, a former Australian foreign affairs minister who sits on Huawei's Australian board, rejects any security concerns.

"This sort of whole concept of Huawei being involved in cyber warfare - presumably that would just be based on the fact that the company comes from China. This is just completely absurd."