Huawei to deliver WA train network: Report

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The Western Australian government is going ahead with its AU$136 million contract with Huawei to construct and manage the digital radio systems for data and voice services for the Public Transport Authority (PTA) as part of a joint venture with UGL, according to a report.

The ABC said the state opposition wants any correspondence between the government and Huawei to be made public, however.

“The Huawei and UGL representatives confirmed they would be able to source equipment required for the project. Further confirmation was subsequently received by the PTA,” ABC reported Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti as saying.

“The state government is committed to delivering this project, and making sure that the proponents deliver on their contractual obligations.

“To that end, the state will continue to monitor this contract, with the involvement of other key state agencies.”

According to the ABC, Saffioti said that due to the contract needing ongoing monitoring, she is “at this stage” unable to table the government’s correspondence with Huawei. In response, Deputy Liberal leader Lisa Harvey reportedly accused Saffioti of being “secretive”.

The minister’s office did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

The state government had in January confirmed making comments to The West Australian that it was looking to review the contract with Huawei in the wake of the Chinese networking giant facing charges from the US on conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and conspiring to steal intellectual property.

“The Public Transport Authority is currently seeking advice from the contractor regarding any potential impacts of these risks on the delivery of the project,” Saffioti told the newspaper at the time.

Huawei had been awarded the contract in July last year, a month prior to Canberra’s ban on Huawei for 5G in Australia.

Under the Radio Systems Replacement project, Huawei was contracted to design, install, and commission a digital radio solution along Perth’s 180km rail network, including the new Forrestfield-Airport Link tunnels.

The system will utilise a 4G LTE network using PTA’s 1800MHz spectrum holdings, and involve the instalment of outdoor cabinets and towers. Once complete, Huawei-UGL would then service and maintain the system for five years, with the option to do so for a further 10 years.

Huawei began work on the project in July 2018, to be completed by 2021, with the Chinese technology giant saying it would employ over 50 local steel and labour workers during this time.

The contract was awarded a month after Saffioti said federal government agencies had advised the state that they were unfazed by the prospect of Huawei winning the contract.

Huawei last week filed to sue the US government, seeking a declaratory judgment that the National Defense Authorization Act, which prevents US government entities from using Huawei or ZTE equipment, is unconstitutional.

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