Telstra's CEO David Thodey has asserted that Telstra is responsible for asbestos issues associated with the National Broadband Network (NBN) and said there is a “zero tolerance” with contractors.
“We own the infrastructure – it is our responsibility,” Thodey said during a media briefing on Monday.
Telstra’s CEO also said there were opportunities to improve processes with contractors.
“So we’re going to go and look at those and work with our contractors and let’s get through that and see where we get to, but it is zero tolerance – zero tolerance. For all of us this is a very serious issue and we need to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Thodey said.
Thodey said Telstra has already handled asbestos claims for “many years” and urged people to contact Telstra if they had any claims.
He did not guarantee that the public would not be exposed to asbestos in the future and said Telstra had not cut any corners.
“We will take every precaution, follow processes that have been defined by Comcare and are world-class in terms of our objective in terms of compliance, but guarantee is a very strong word. We will do everything we can and follow every process we know that is available,” Thodey said.
Thodey said “10s” of people had come forward about asbestos-related issues, with Telstra also following up with people who have gone to the media and it is keeping a register.
“There’s some instances in Ballarat, a couple of incidences coming up in Tasmania and South Australia,” he said.
“We just need to know about them, go and look at them and see what happens and see what remediation we need to take...
“We need to up the ante in terms of making sure that things are closely complied with. We need independent checks as well because we can’t take any risks in this at all and we will not.”
Thodey said Telstra had not cut any corners.
Earlier today Telstra said it does not face any financial risk from people potentially being exposed to asbestos in its pits and pipes.
Last week Telstra announced it had begun advertising for up to 200 specialists to inspect and supervise asbestos remediation work of its pits and pipes following remediation work shutting down due to asbestos fears.
Telstra is conducting an audit into the asbestos practices of contractors upgrading pits as part of the NBN rollout after concerns around safety procedures were raised.
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