Minister Steven Joyce says he met with the Huawei CEO when he was visiting Shenzhen as part of an ICT trade mission to China last month.
Computerworld asked if Joyce had visited Huawei executives, following revelations last week that Crown Fibre Holdings director Murray Milner had done consulting work for the technology supplier.
“Yes, he met with the CEO and other executives of the company,” a spokesperson from Minister Joyce’s office confirmed
“The purpose of the visit was to showcase the New Zealand companies that were travelling with the mission and give them the opportunity to build contacts and relationships with Huawei, one of the world's largest telecommunications technology providers.”
“While Huawei took the opportunity to show some of their product range to the Minister, neither the New Zealand Urban nor Rural Broadband initiatives were specifically discussed.”
When questioned about the role of Murray Milner in Crown Fibre Holdings by ICT Labour spokesperson Clare Curran in Parliament, Minister Joyce told her he was no longer a shareholding Minister. That role was transferred to Minister of Commerce Simon Power in July this year.
“It would be unusual for the policy Minister to also be a shareholding Minister - for example as Minister of Transport it would not be appropriate for the Minister of Transport to also be the shareholding Minister in Air New Zealand,” the Minister’s office told Computerworld.
UPDATE: After posting this article online, ICT Labour spokesperson Clare Curran asked further questions about Minister Joyce's visit to China in Parliament. The transcript is as follows:
Broadband, Ultra-fast—Tendering Process
CLARE CURRAN (Labour—Dunedin South) to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology: Is he satisfied that the process for awarding the ultra-fast broadband tender is appropriate; if so, why?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Communications and Information Technology) : As I replied to the member’s exact same question last Thursday, yes; and for the same reasons.
Clare Curran: Has he received any advice or expressions of concern from industry stakeholders relating to a potential or actual conflict of interest in Murray Milner’s role as director of Crown Fibre Holdings at the same time that he was a consultant to Huawei Technologies, a likely bidder for equipment and services on ultra-fast broadband; if so, what is the detail of that advice or concern?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: No, I have not received any concern in that respect. I have sought advice in response to the member’s questions from the chair of Crown Fibre Holdings, and I am satisfied that Crown Fibre Holdings has robust and comprehensive procedures in place regarding conflicts of interest, which all board members and staff are required to comply with. I note again that Huawei Technologies is not a respondent in the ultra-fast broadband initiative but a technology provider. Crown Fibre Holdings will not be entering into agreements with technology providers; that is an issue for the Crown’s partners to manage.
Clare Curran: Did he meet with Chinese technology company Huawei Technologies during his recent trip to China, leading an information and communications technology delegation; if so, whom did he meet with, on what occasions, and what was discussed?
Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Absolutely. I led the trade delegation and we met with a number of very large Chinese telecommunications companies, including China Unicom, China Mobile, China Telecom, and Huawei Technologies. I met with Huawei Technologies’ chief executive officer and founder, Mr Ren, as part of a visit to its Shenzhen headquarters. The purpose of the visit was to showcase the New Zealand companies that were travelling with the trade mission I was leading, and give the opportunity to build contacts and relationships with Huawei Technologies, which is one of the world’s largest telecommunications technology providers. Although Huawei took the opportunity to show me some of its product range, neither the New Zealand urban nor rural broadband initiatives were specifically discussed.