Fears for security as Huawei wins $136m Perth trains telco contract

Huawei, a controversial Chinese organisation, has been given a $136 million telco contract by the Western Australian government raising security concerns.

The company is currently in a joint operation with UGL to construct a 4G communication system for voice and digital services on trains in Perth, including as part of the still-under-construction Forrestfield Airport Link.

Mike Nahan, the WA Opposition leader, said that the deal raised “serious strategic issues”.

Dr Nahan said that the primary security concern was the fact that the project would be integrated alongside data from emergency services in a facility under the operation of Huawei.

Australian intelligence agencies and some in politics have historically demonstrated concern about Huawei technology being used to access infrastructure in Australia.

Some in the intelligence community have said that Huawei is a cyber espionage risk and that is why the company will be barred from contributing to the construction of the 5G network. A decision regarding the banning of certain companies from participating in the 5G network is expected soon.

Dr Nahan went on to say that the contract should have been given to local providers and that he believes Huawei wont the contract simply because they were the cheapest, regardless of security concerns.

Huawei issued a statement reminding Australians that it had provided communications technology safely for our emergency services for “over a decade”.

The company also said that more than 50 WA people would be employed over the course of the contract’s design and building periods.

Mack McGowan, WA Premier, said that he did not foresee any security issues with the deal and accused the Opposition of politicising the issue.  He said that the security advice, from Federal agencies, was presented to the State Opposition so that they had no excuse as to why they were making it an issue now.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later confirmed that Mr McGowan’s government had sought advice from the Department of Home Affairs.

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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