State Government awards rail communications contract to Chinese firm

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Stock Image.
Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Stock Image.

CHINESE-owned telco Huawei has been awarded a $136 million contract with the West Australian government.

The McGowan government is under fire for dismissing security concerns over the deal to supply a 4G communications system for Perth’s rail network.

News of the deal follows the local arm of the Chinese-owned telecommunications giant saying Australian customer data will never be handed over to Chinese spy agencies.

Huawei Australia Chairman, John Lord, a former rear admiral, told the National Press Club last month the company obeys the law in the 170 countries in which it operates.

He said while Chinese law requires companies to hand over information, it won’t happen in Australia.

His comments follow concerns about security fears.

Mr Lord said the WA government contract reinforces the company’s strong long-term investment focus in Australia.

On its website, Huawei announced on Friday the Radio Systems Replacement project will deliver across the Public Transport Authority’s 180km electrified rail network and the new Forrestfield Airport Link twin tunnels.

“The Huawei UGL joint venture will design, install and commission the service and maintain the new digital radio system for an initial period of five years from completion with options for a further five plus five years,” it said.

Huawei has been providing similar communications technology services to Sydney Trains and Ambulance NSW “safely and securely for nearly a decade”, Mr Lord said.

Under the contract, local WA steel and labour will be used, with more than 50 WA-based staff and subcontractors employed during the 40-month design-and-build period.

Shadow minister for innovation Bill Marmion voiced his concerns on Twitter.