Chinese telecommunications company Huawei says it still hasn't been told exactly why it was banned by the federal government from taking part in the build-out of Australia's high-speed national broadband network.
Huawei Australia chairman John Lord told a parliamentary committee today the company was disappointed by the ban and concerned it was linked to its Chinese origins, given its proven ability to deliver infrastructure.
"With the NBN decision, I was summoned to the attorney-general's at short notice and we were advised of the decision that Huawei would not be participating in the NBN," he told the joint intelligence and security committee sitting in Canberra.
"We were disappointed we were not given a chance to answer any concerns that may have led to that decision.
"The actual reasons that we were not included in the NBN we do not know."
Huawei, founded by a former engineer in China's People's Libration Army in 1987, is the world's largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment, ahead of Swedish firm Ericsson.
Its Australian office opened in 2004 and is the hub for its business across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific.
In late 2011, the Labor government banned the company from tendering for work on the $37.4 billion NBN project citing unspecified security concerns, apparently based on advice from security agencies.
US security officials have previously claimed Huawei equipment, the backbone of telecommunications networks in many countries, is designed to allow unauthorised access by the Chinese government and military.
Mr Lord said Huawei was a quiet achiever that was little known in Australia and the company had decided it needed to increase its profile.
Former coalition foreign minister Alexander Downer and former Victorian Labor premier John Brumby now sit on its board and help to market the company to Australians.
It sponsors the Canberra Raiders NRL team and hosts trips by politicians to its plant in China.
"We have had quite a few visit there and nearly every state premier has now been to Huawei," Mr Lord told the committee.
"It's getting Huawei known. We are now advertising in our name. We are number one in the world and known around the world, but in Australia we have been too quiet."
Mr Lord also said while the government had the right to decide who was involved in provision of critical infrastructure, and the company accepted some parts would be barred to foreigners, the decision process should be transparent.There was a danger Australia could fall behind in technology, disadvantage consumers and possibly infringe international commitments, he added.
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