Huawei Media Statement: Response to Malcolm Turnbull 5G Comments on ABC Four Corners

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(Sydney, 4th August 2020)

Huawei Australia would like to make the following statement regarding comments made by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the ABC Four Corners program on the circumstances leading to his government’s 5G ban on Huawei in August 2018.

“Huawei Australia takes issue with some of the comments made by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in the ABC Four Corners program last night concerning our company.

“In the program Mr. Turnbull claims that he was the person to first raise the subject of banning Huawei from 5G in Australia with the Trump Administration.

“However, it is a matter of public record (as reported in the Australian Financial Review on February 24th 2018) that Mr. Turnbull was briefed by the US National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security on their concerns about Huawei being involved in Australia’s 5G on February 23rd 2018.

“A further story appeared in the Australian Financial Review on March 4th quoting US Republican Congressman Michael Conway saying that US-Australia intelligence sharing relations would be damaged if Huawei was not banned from 5G in Australia.

“We can say with absolute certainty that Huawei Australia was completely unaware of any concerns around our involvement in 5G from the Australian Government until the Australian Financial Review article was published on February 24th.

“We received a formal letter in August 2015 from Mr. Turnbull as Minister for Communications where he assures Huawei Australia that the Telecommunications Sector Security Reforms legislation – under which Huawei would later be banned – “do not apply to suppliers and do not seek to exclude any specific supplier from offering services or equipment to the Australian market.”

“On this basis by 2018 Huawei Australia had employed hundreds of new staff as we looked to not only secure 5G contracts with our existing 4G customers, Optus and Vodafone, but to also aggressively compete to win 5G business from other telecom operators.

“Huawei Australia had already spent tens of millions of dollars engaging in 5G trials in Australia with our 4G customers as well as non 4G customers, employing new staff and installing new 5G trial equipment – we would never have done this if we had been advised on any prospect of a 5G ban.

“Until that article was published nobody from Mr. Turnbull’s government had expressed any concerns at all to Huawei about our involvement in 5G.

“In addition, none of our network operator customers had received any indication that any 5G ban on Huawei was in prospect.

“As we know, the later sudden imposition of the ban placed both Optus and Vodafone at considerable commercial disadvantage to Telstra in the 5G market.

“That being the case, if Mr. Turnbull did indeed have any misgivings about Huawei being involved in Australia’s 5G then he should have raised them with us in any of the multiple meetings we had with him or his office prior to his apparent raising them with the US Government in February 2018 – but he most certainly did not do this.

“We fail to understand why Mr. Turnbull should raise these concerns with the US Government before he raised them with us – we can only presume this is because there were no concerns on Huawei delivering 5G in Australia until after his visit to the US in February 2018.”

Notes to Editors:

Malcolm Turnbull quote on ABC Four Corners broadcast Monday 3rd August 2020

“The 5G issue was raised by me with the Americans and that assertion by Huawei is utterly false. It was raised by me when I was in discussions with the administration and it was something that we made a point about, it was a matter of very keen interest to us. I want to say that the proposition that we were directed or advised by the Americans to keep Huawei out of our network by the US is simply not true.”

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