Telstra is expecting a financial hit from Australia’s devastating bushfires “in the order of $50 million”, with CEO Andy Penn calling for “more urgent action” on climate change as a result.
Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce in Australia event in Melbourne, Penn said that fires with 1000 degree temperatures took an “inevitable toll” on the telco’s infrastructure.
While the telco was “ultimately able to limit the physical loss of sites to 6 out of potentially hundreds”, the total cost of the fires was still expected to be substantial.
Those costs likely include damaged equipment, staff and maintenance, as well as the cost of providing free payphone and other services to people in affected areas, including to volunteer firefighters.
“We estimate our contribution to supporting firefighters and communities through assistance packages and donations will be in the order of $10m,” Penn said.
“We estimate the total impact of the bushfires on Telstra will be in the order of $50m.
Penn used his address to link the devastating fires to climate change, and to urge more action on that front.
“Today more than ever businesses must consider their impact on the environment and climate,” he said.
“The 2020s have started with devastating bushfires.
“With lives lost, homes burned, wildlife destroyed and whole ecosystems changed forever, climate change and our environmental footprint must sit at the top of our change agendas.
“We need more urgent action on climate as changing weather patterns deliver more frequent bushfires, floods, droughts and storms.”
Penn said Telstra was doing its bit to reduce emissions and by investing in energy efficient projects such as wind farms.