NBN should be “above politics”, says Huawei


Chinese technology manufacturer Huawei has called for Australia’s commitment to the National Broadband Network to be “above politics”, arguing that the network rollout is a defining moment in the nation’s history.

The development of the NBN project over the past half-decade – and its refinement into the policy which Julia Gillard’s Labor Government is implementing today – has been the subject of constant political debate over its lifetime, including internal division in both the Liberal and Coalition parties about how it should proceed.

In one example, the actual rollout of the network is proceeding in a starkly different manner in Australia’s various states, with Tasmania pursuing an ‘opt-out’ approach to the NBN, where property owners have to consciously choose not to have the NBN connected to their premises, and at least one state – Victoria – choosing a rival opt-in approach.

In addition, the passage of NBN-related legislation through parliament has been a constant struggle, with both sides of politics, as well as the Greens and independents, debating much of the legislation put forward furiously. In addition, the network rollout has been the subject of constant verbal struggles in Senate Estimates committees.

Speaking before the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications Inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network, Huawei corporate and public affairs director Jeremy Mitchell said Huawei – which supplies solutions to other NBN rollouts around the globe – “fully supports” the rollout.

“We also believe that the commitment to an NBN should be above politics and supported by both major political parties,” he said.

“There always will be, and should be, debate about implementation, in fact of the five NBNs Huawei is building globally, no two are the same,” he added. “But we believe there should be an agreed set of guidelines for Australia’s NBN, equality of service, investment in the best technology and that we build not just a network but a “networked nation” where “no one gets left behind”.”

Mitchell said there were “moments in a country’s history” where choices were made that laid the foundations for the social development and economic prosperity for the decades to come, comparing the NBN to similar “visionary” infrastructure rollouts in the US such as the construction of railroads and interstate highway networks.

“The 21st century is the Asia-Pacific century. Singapore, Malaysia, and China are investing in fibre networks, Korea and Japan have already invested. If Australia is to take full advantage of this opportunity we need to make sure we aren’t the poor digital cousins in the neighbourhood,” he said.

The future of the NBN still appears to be in doubt, despite Labor’s success in taking Government after the 2010 Federal Election, with the support of the Greens and independents. It will take almost a decade for the network infrastructure to be completely rolled out, and the Coalition has pledged to immediately halt the NBN project if it wins government in future.

In addition, stark political differences of opinion regarding the NBN continue to exist. Only last week, Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull took the Government to account for not investigating allegations of bribery at Alcatel-Lucent before hiring NBN Co’s CEO Mike Quigley and CFO Jean-Pascal Beaufret, who both had a history with the US/French networking company.

“Beaufret was the Chief Financial Officer of Alcatel and we know that millions of dollars – because Alcatel has admitted it – we know that millions of dollars were paid in bribes in all of those countries that you mentioned earlier,” Turnbull said on Radio 2UE in Sydney last week. “Now Mr Beaufret says, and I don’t challenge him, that he knew nothing about it, that he wasn’t involved and that it all happened unbeknownst to him. But nonetheless, he was the chief money man of Alcatel and a lot of money was being spent improperly and indeed, criminally.”

Image credit: Office of Malcolm Turnbull


  1. The Australian Liberal Party is demonstrating signs of shocking similarity to the corporatist Republican party in the US.

  2. Unfortunatley we live in a world of reality, not hypothetical “shoulds”

    If you wanted NBN to be above politics, and you see no political interference as a positive for such infrastructure projects, you should have gotten the private industry to do it (or set up an environment so they can develop infrastructure, something we don’t have in Australia due to a vertically integrated Telstra)

    Also there is an obvious conflict in interest in Huwei having such a point of view, they own one of the tenders, they gain the most financially from such a scheme

    • “If you wanted NBN to be above politics, and you see no political interference as a positive for such infrastructure projects, you should have gotten the private industry to do it”

      That’s what the Howard Government has been doing for more than 10 years, and that’s how we got ourselves into the Telecommunications mess that we’re in right now. The private industry has FAILED!

      Australia is a very unique country. Because of our large geographic land mass and sparse population, I personally don’t think that Infrastructure competition can work in Australia. That’s why we need the NBN and that’s why it should be a wholesale-only natural monopoly, just like our roads, rail and electricity. No private company can roll out a wired network (of any kind, fibre or copper) to 98% of the Australian population.

      • Geez, good work ignoring half of what I said, including the part about the private industry being unable to do it effectively in the Howard era due to Telstra’s vertical integration

        But yeah w/e man, a troll’s a troll

  3. i think all the companies participating in the NBN tender are troubled by the prospect of the Coalition winning government and axing the project.

    for the life of me, i can’t see how Abbott, the purest of all ideological purists, will sanction the rebuilding of a giant, government telco monopoly under his tenure as PM.

    given the leadership tussle and conflicts between the two men, it’s obvious Turnbull was only given the job of being Opposition communications spokesman because both men share the same views on this issue (unlike climate change).

    and Turnbull has made clear what the Opposition will do when they win government.

    • I’d say Turnbull was given the job and told by Abbott, I am leader now, not you… as such you do as I say.

      With this Abbot told him, I DO NOT want more Turnbull dissent of the party’s policies and ideologies (like preaching climate change or Republic – where Turnbull is now suspiciously quiet, btw), so now go out and toe the party line by wrecking the NBN…!

      Lets not forget (even following the Abbott strangely silent and uncontrollable head wobble interview, where he looked like a stunned mullet and also seeing the blokey, cobber maaaate speedo PR) TA is a Rhodes scholar and no mug…!

      So putting Turnbull into the role he is most suited, but then telling him to argue against his tech tendencies, was a politically astute manoeuvre, by TA imo!

      It a winner for for him no matter what (see – even Malcolm Turnbull a tech geek from way back doesn’t believe in the NBN – you can see TA saying it) and a loser for Turnbull… (he is either looked upon by those who know as selling out or those who don’t know as a good minister in an Abbott government) making TA’s main opponent from within, somewhat nobbled at the knees!

      Full points to Tony Abbott imo…!

  4. The Governer General should be above politics, the Queen should be above politics, the High Court should be above politics.

    A buy Huawei campaign seeking to slurp my tax money certainly does not belong on the same level as any of the above.

        • No question…Huawei certainly has their obvious motives (otherwise they wouldn’t said anything!)

          Still doesn’t mean they are incorrect, imo!

    • Since you strangely brought up the Queen and GG, being above politics…let’s run with that eh?

      Aren’t the Queen and GG paid for (or at least subsidised) by Commonwealth taxpayers? Well… as such, they are (like the NBN) surely NOT above politics either then…?

      In fact…

      I wanna know exactly where every one of “my” tax dollars is being spent on this Queen and GG?

      Why should this commie government waste “my” tax dollars on such luxuries “I” don’t need?

      The government should butt out, because private enterprise will invest in their own Queen and GG! Look, I don’t have a problem with the script kiddies wanting their Queen or GG, but “I” don’t need them, so user should pay, not “me” the taxpayer!

      Where is the GG/Queens Corporate/Business plan?

      Oh look no CBA, what are you hiding? You know the $’s won’t stack up eh…? Just like insulation and BER, more Labor wastage…!

      What is the ROI on this GG and Queen…? You’d get a better return depositing the money in the bank!

      Investing in this Queen and GG is like buying a Ferrari on a $50K salary!

      And what about true competition? One monopoly Queen and one monopoly GG?

      Anyway, we don’t need a GG or Queen to “every premises in Australia…” I reckon GGQTTN is goodnuff!

      Well it’s unanimous people (according to the nay-sayers very own rules and rhetoric) the Queen and GG are white elephants we simply can’t afford! So roll on next election…when Malcolm becomes PM and he can also become the “white elephant hunter” by stopping the NBN and starting a Republic…!!

        • LOL…myne.

          Yes using NBN nay-sayer logic, would certainly make one appear somewhat, umm whacked…!

  5. I would rather spend money on the NBN, which will propel us into the 21st century, than on the outdated GG and the monarchy.

  6. Why does that fool keep using “private should do it” Well they Didnt and they probly wouldnt for another 100 years… From just about ever article you have som BS to add that means jack all… What are you getting paid to come on these things and talk like a stupid moron De

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