Telstra cops heavy fire over disaster data

Matt Coughlan
·1-min read

Telstra and other telcos have come under heavy fire from the federal government for failing to release crucial data to emergency services.

Emergency services are seeking information about telecommunications utilities to help save lives during natural disasters including bushfires, cyclones or floods.

Fire and rescue workers will use the information to make strategic decisions to keep communications alive during a disaster.

Emergency Management Minister David Littleproud singled out Telstra's chief executive after the company failed to honour an agreement made in October 2019.

"I am disgusted that Andy Penn has not made good on Telstra's commitments even after a personal conversation with him that he would not put Telstra's commercial interests ahead of the safety of Australians."

Mr Littleproud declared the time for talk was over as he ramped up the pressure for Telstra, Optus, NBN and Vodafone to sit down with emergency services.

"This is about people, not profits," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"This is about making sure that our emergency personnel have the resources and require to protect us and themselves."

Vodafone rejects the claim it failed to provide information to emergency services.

"We shared requested information about the location of our critical infrastructure with state and territory agencies following last summer's bushfires," a spokeswoman said.

She said the company had strong relationships with emergency services agencies across Australia.

"We understand the critical role that telecommunications plays in keeping communities connected during emergencies and natural disaster events," the spokeswoman said.

"We take our public safety obligations extremely seriously and our networks engineers do whatever they can to provide support to first responders when required."

Mr Littleproud promised the government and emergency bodies would not share commercially sensitive information.