Senator accuses Telstra of faults cover-up

Accusing Telstra of a cover-up for not revealing details of network faults Labor Senator Sue Mackay is seeking a formal explanation in the Senate.

Appearing at Senate estimate hearings Telstra's finance director John Stanhope refused to provide details citing commercial confidentiality but confirmed there were between 10,000 and 20,000 network faults outstanding at any given time.

Claiming 'commercial-in-confidence' reasons Telstra said it would make the information privately available to Senate members but not for public record.

Mackay told Computerworld "it is clear Telstra has something to hide, otherwise it would not have claimed the database that holds all of these faults are commercial-in-confidence."

She said cutbacks in capital expenditure have created a network in disrepair that is affecting Australian business which is why Telstra needs to provide answers to identify the faults.

In a bid to force Telstra to make the information available before Budget hearings Senator Mackay sought advice from the Clerk of the Senate Harry Evans.

"He stated there are no adverse commercial reasons why Telstra should not make available information in the faults database,"she said.

Armed with written advice Mackay is formulating a letter to Telstra this week seeking an explanation and will take further action in the Senate if the company is not forthcoming.

"This is a very serious issue; Telstra admitted in the Senate that some of these faults awaiting repair date back as far as 1995," she said.

"Telstra's high level of sensitivity is evident in its ballistic response when the number of faults were first revealed in Tasmania; suspecting the information was leaked from its Hobart headquarters Telstra removed staff computers and shipped them to Melbourne to check hard drives as part of their investigation into the matter."

Telstra spokesman Jason Laird denied a cover-up claiming information was provided by Stanhope in Parliament but refused to elaborate on the company's intentions regarding written correspondence from Senator Mackay.

He didn't comment on staff computers being seized as part of Telstra's investigation to locate information leaks.

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