Senator Lundy's legal threats fall on a deaf Telstra

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Senator Lundy's legal threats fall on a deaf Telstra

ACT Labor Senator Kate Lundy has threatened legal action against an online Telstra mouthpiece over alleged defamatory comments made in a blog posting.

The blog posting in question was written by Telstra Business senior public affairs adviser Rod Bruem, and accused Lundy of participating in telecommunications debate in the Senate without first "disclosing the potential conflict of interest created by the business interests of her husband".

Lundy’s husband, David Forman, is the executive director of the Competitive Carriers’ Coalition, a telecommunications industry association which aims to promote fair competition. It is made up of a number of Telstra’s competitors including, Hutchison, Macquarie Telecom, iiNet and Primus Telecom.

"Over the past decade I've been watching Senate committees closely and I've never seen Senator Lundy declare her relationship, or even abstain from any debate in which there is a risk that she could be seen to be pushing the interests of her lobbyist husband," wrote Bruem in the blog entry.

"At times you get the impression that Lundy and Mr Forman plan their pincer attacks on Telstra over the family breakfast table before taking themselves up the hill and staging a public re-enactment before the cameras in Parliament House."

In a Telstra-addressed letter obtained by iTnews, Lundy’s lawyers, Slate & Gordon, claim several remarks made by Bruem defame the Senator.

In particular, Lundy has taken exception to Bruem’s claims that she used the processes of Parliament to pursue the private business interests of her husband.

Lundy’s lawyers also rejected claims she had wasted the time of Government officials to pursue her husband’s business interests and that she acted in a corrupt manner by misleading Parliament about her true intentions.

The letter demands the removal of the blog posting in question, the publication of a retraction and apology to Lundy, and an undertaking from Bruem not to repeat the allegations.

In an act of defiance, Telstra has refused to stand down from Lundy’s demands, using the same blog to announce it would not remove the offending post.

Chief Editor of the nowwearetalking blog, Jeremy Mitchell, said the offending posting raised significant questions regarding the appropriate disclosure of potential conflicts of interest.

"This blog raises very serious and legitimate questions; it is not too much to expect full disclosure from our elected representatives. nowwearetalking and Telstra stand behind the publishing of this blog; we support the raising of these important questions and will not be removing the blog as requested by lawyers representing the Senator," wrote Mitchell.

Lundy did not respond to requests for comment.
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