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Tuesday, 8 February 1994
Page: 505

Senator ALSTON —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications and the Arts. I refer to allegations on last night's 7.30 Report that Telecom has made almost 700 tapes of phone conversations involving Casualties of Telecom, that is, persons seeking compensation from Telecom over failure to provide an adequate phone service resulting in substantial damage to their businesses. Is this figure correct? If not, what is the correct figure and on what basis does Telecom justify its actions? Is the minister also aware of an April 1993 internal Telecom document indicating that the telephone of yet another COT case member was tapped without his knowledge? What actions does the government propose to take in respect of these matters?

Senator McMULLAN —I am aware of the background of the issues to which Senator Alston refers. He asked a question of me before, to which I provided an answer which was essentially based on a brief from the minister who was dealing with it directly. I am not aware of the details of the particular matter which he raised. I am sure the minister is and I will get a reply for Senator Alston as soon as I can.

Senator ALSTON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I presume the minister did see a report in this morning's Australian Financial Review. If not, he is not being properly briefed. That report referred to this internal memo and I ask the minister to investigate whether in fact that document was not one of the documents released to Dawson's Pest and Weed Control pursuant to an FOI request. If that is the case, on what possible basis was it withheld from him?

Senator McMULLAN —I will add that to the information about which I seek further advice from the minister.