McGowan, Saffioti Need to Abandon Huawei Rail Comms Contract: Opposition

The State Opposition has stated that the McGowan government needs to leave its $136 million 4G rail communications deal with Chinese telco Huawei, following criminal charges being laid against the company and its CEO.

Shadow transport spokesperson Liza Harvey said there were concerns about the suitability of the contract and Premier Mark McGowan needed to order transport minister Rita Saffioti to abandon the contract.

She said the contract was not credible.

“The Premier has done everything in his power to stop its real purpose becoming public,” Mrs Harvey said.

“The Public Transport Authority recommended the contract go to Cabinet but for some reason both Minister Saffioti and the Premier decided not to give Cabinet the opportunity to scrutinise it.”

Mrs Harvey said Freedom of Information documents obtained by the opposition “is being engaged by this Government to build a communication system in a time of crisis and for transmitting classified information.”

She said security risks were advised about.

“The advice the Premier received from his own security experts says there were serious concerns about the contract and if the Premier is so convinced he had the blessing of ASIO for this deal why won’t he release, unredacted, the advice he received from ASIO,” Mrs Harvey said.

Mrs Harvey also stated the government’s portrayal of the contract as a phone system between train drivers was “simplistic” and “looked ridiculous”.

“Last night, the Premier was still trying to convince the public he was paying $200 million to allow train drivers to talk to each other, he is treating the public like idiots,” she said.

The US Department of Justice laid fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in the US on Monday and CEO Meng Wanzhou.

The Trump administration is also threatening to order a trade embargo against Huawei.

Mrs Saffioti said the government’s contract was being reviewed.

“The Public Transport Authority is currently seeking advice from the contractor regarding any potential impacts of these risks on the delivery of the project,” she told The West Australian.

A spokesman for Mr McGowan said the review was on logistical rather than security grounds.

The Premier said yesterday that Huawei had contracts throughout Australia and ministers in the previous government owned Huawei phones.

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