When the US government says ‘jump’, the Australian government’s response is often, ‘How high?’
But in a speech to the Henry Jackson Society in London, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says that was not the case with Australia’s decision to ban Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE from developing the 5G network.
Instead, Australia relied solely on its own security advice.
Banning companies a necessary step
The former PM also said that he spoke with US President Donald Trump on numerous occasions regarding how 5G will change communications, as well as security risks that may present over time.
Turnbull says that a necessary step in the implementation of 5G is to ban companies who couldn’t meet Australia’s security requirements, AAP reports.
‘We were the first nation to do so. And we so decided not because another country told us to, let alone for protectionist reasons, but to defend our own sovereignty and to hedge against changing times,’ Mr Turnbull said on Tuesday in London.
‘I discussed this issue with President Trump on many occasions. 5G is different.’
Turnbull also stated that he had raised his concerns with the Five Eyes security alliance — Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK — that there wasn’t a leading 5G vendor based in their countries, according to AAP.
There are four leading vendors of 5G, two are Chinese and the other two are European-based: Ericsson and Nokia.
5G vendors a security risk
Turnbull said that it ‘beggars belief’ that nations that pioneered wireless tech have tolerated falling behind, therefore their own telecommunications companies are not leading the 5G charge.
After consulting advice from the Australian Signals Directorate, Turnbull stated that the 5G network would pointedly decrease the barriers for foreign powers to compromise a network, AAP reports.
Currently, the UK is considering its point on Huawei, whereas New Zealand has already banned the company from its 5G rollout.
The decision to prohibit ZTE and Huawei from the 5G rollout was declared only hours prior to Turnbull announcing that he would resign as PM in August — in a media release, the companies were not mentioned by name.
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