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House of Representatives
4 April 2012
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12. Broadband, Cyber-security—Australian Concerns Regarding Huawei Technologies

[Sitting date: 04 April 2012. Volume:679;Page:1647. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]

12. CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Prime Minister: What did he mean when he told the NZ Herald and other media last week that “We are comfortable with the current arrangements we have” with regards to Chinese telco Huawei’s involvement in our national broadband infrastructure, given that Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also said last week that “We’ve taken a decision in the national interest” to ban Huawei from even tendering for its broadband network?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister) : I meant that we are comfortable with the current arrangements.

Clare Curran: How does he reconcile his statement to the media last week that “We received good quality advice and we do the best to protect New Zealand businesses and consumers where we think that’s necessary.” with Julia Gillard’s statement that “We took appropriate advice and used that advice to make our decision.”, a decision that was to ban Huawei from tendering? Was the advice from the same source?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: As I said to the House yesterday, I am not going to go—as no Prime Minister has—into the practice of commenting on security issues, other than I can say that we have taken into account all issues of network security. I am comfortable that the Government has taken a holistic view on that. And can I say how touched I am that the member has put in an Official Information Act request for Helen Clark’s advice.

Clare Curran: What did he mean when he told the New Zealand Herald last week that “He was aware of Australia’s actions but had a limited knowledge on the reasons for it.”? Had he not been briefed on Australia’s reasons for its decisions?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: I simply do not get into public discussions about what briefings I may or may not have from Australian intelligence.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. The questioner asked the Prime Minister not what was the subject of the briefing but whether he was briefed. Surely he can answer that question and not offend his so-called self-made rule about not talking about national issues of security.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The question actually contained much more than that. If I recollect correctly, it asked at the outset what the Prime Minister meant. When questions are framed like that, you cannot expect the Speaker to assist with the answers, because the answers are going to be so difficult to pin down. When members ask what a Minister means, it is a risky approach.

Clare Curran: Was he briefed on Australia’s reasons for its decision?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: All I can say to the member is we have considerable dialogue with all of our partners in this area. That is about all I am prepared to say.

Clare Curran: Did he read—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! I have called Clare Curran.

Clare Curran: Did he read the report he received from his security agencies in 2010, and did it say that there were no mitigation measures that would totally counteract the compromising of our broadband infrastructure should Huawei be given the contract; and why did he not warn his Ministers accordingly?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Firstly, yes, I would have read that report, although it was a couple of years ago. Secondly, it would be worth it, if the member is really trying to ask me a direct question in relation to Huawei, if I could just make this comment. Not only is it one of the three major suppliers of this equipment in the world, alongside Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, but also it operates in Australia, it operates in the US, and it operates in the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan. And, by the way, if it is so unwelcome in Australia, I was amazed to find out that it has just become the official sponsor of the Canberra Raiders.