Nearly $3 million worth of laptops have been lost or stolen at Telstra over the past 18 months, according to a survey of missing computer equipment in federal government departments.
Covering a period of 18 months to the end of June this year, the survey shows Telstra has single-handedly blown out the cost of laptop loss and theft across the nation by one third.
The survey of missing computer equipment was prepared by Shadow Minister for Public Administration and Government Services, John Faulkner, and shows Telstra has lost 426 laptop computers with a further 126 laptops stolen between January 1, 1999 and July 1, 2000.
The total replacement cost for missing laptops across all federal departments is about $5 million. Of further concern, however, is the number of laptops missing with 'classified information'.
In a list of the worst offenders for missing computers Faulkner included the departments of Defence, and Family and Community Services, both of which agencies, he said, had a "woeful record in looking after laptops".
His survey shows Defence lost the most classified information with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Australian Federal Police also missing protected documents.
Faulkner said the Department of Defence lost 54 computers with a further 73 stolen, while Industry, Science and Resources lost 12 and had 51 stolen.
He said there are 31 laptops missing from the Australian Tax Office (ATO), 34 from Family and Community Services and 29 from Air Services Australia.
A few agencies scored nil losses and Faulkner said the Office of Government Online has a commendable record with only one laptop stolen.
Faulkner said he raised the issue with IT Minister Senator Richard Alston in parliament but his only reply was to ask the cleaners.
"Senator Alston's contempt for this serious matter is out of touch with Australians when it comes to the outrageous loss of expensive electronic equipment; Alston suggested someone down the line should find out if the cleaners had a few spare minutes when asked where all the laptops have gone," Senator Faulkner said.