Sydney news: Telstra fined, ordered to repay $1.73 million to customers

Here’s what you need to know this morning:

Telstra fined, ordered to repay $1.73 million to customers

Telstra has been fined half a million dollars by the telecommunications watchdog and forced to pay back nearly $2 million after overcharging thousands of customers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority says a recent investigation had found that more than 11,000 Telstra customers were wrongly billed for services.

That’s on top of a similar investigation in 2020 that found it had overloaded more than 10,000 customers over a 12-year period.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said there was no excuse for overcharging customers and Telstra had been slapped with a fine over its actions.

“So it’s pretty disappointing that we’re seeing continuing overcharging by Telstra of its customers,” she said.

Call for electric car policy

EV with charger attached
A group of Independent candidates is calling for better incentives and rebates to encourage people to buy electric cars. (ABC News: Greg Pollock)

A group of independent election candidates will today launch a call for better incentives for drivers to switch to electric cars.

Independent MP for the seat of Warringah Zali Steggall is calling for a target of at least 75 per cent of new vehicles sold to be electric by 2030, rising to 100 per cent by 2035.

“It’s time to take our foot off the brake and introduce policies at the federal government level to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles,” she said.

Ms Steggall will be joined at the launch by Independent candidates Kylea Tink, who is standing in North Sydney, and Sophie Scamps, who is running in Mackellar.

Warning after spate of house fires

Police say a house where there was a suspicious fire overnight was used to grow drugs.Police say a house where there was a suspicious fire overnight was used to grow drugs.
Firefighters are warning people to check heaters after a spate of house fires. (ABC News)

There’s been a spate of serious house fires across New South Wales, with 14 since Sunday, two of them fatal.

There were four fires alone yesterday, including the two deaths.

The body of a man was found after investigators searched the ruins of a home near Glen Innes in the state’s north yesterday afternoon, and another man died in a house fire in south-western Sydney.

Fire authorities have warned about the risks involved during cooler weather, when people are getting out heaters and using other methods to warm their homes.

At this point, Fire Superintendent Adam Dewberry says it’s unclear what caused the latest two fatalities.

“Look, at this stage, it’s preliminary investigations. The fatal fires aren’t considered suspicious at this stage, however the investigation is ongoing by the police and fire investigators.” he told the ABC.

Defamation case continues

Opening of tunnelOpening of tunnel
The witness yesterday described what he found when he searched the secret tunnel. (Supplied)

A former SAS soldier codenamed Person 35 is scheduled to continue giving evidence today in the defamation trial of decorated veteran Ben Roberts-Smith.

Person 35 yesterday told the court how he entered and photographed a tunnel unearthed at an Afghan village compound known as “Whiskey 108”.

He described how he found weapons, ammunition and radios in the tunnel but said there was no sign of any people.

The account contradicts those of a number of his former comrades, who have told the court that they saw two men emerge from the tunnel.

Newspapers articles at the center of the defamation action alleged the men were subsequently executed, despite the fact that they had surrendered.

Ben Roberts-Smith has told the court there were no people found in the tunnel.

Day three of ICAC hearing into Canada Bay Mayor

Angelo Tsirekas addresses the mediaAngelo Tsirekas addresses the media
The ICAC hearing into Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas will continue for a third day(AAP: Mick Tsikas)

The NSW anti-corruption commission will continue its investigation into allegations that the Mayor of Canada Bay, Angelo Tsirekas, accepted bribes from developers in return for favorable decisions on their projects.

A former director of the iProsperity property group, Belinda Li, is due to give evidence for a second day.

On Wednesday, Ms Li repeatedly told the inquiry she could not recall meetings with the mayor, prompting the ICAC’s chief commissioner to ask her how long she’d suffered from memory problems.

Former town planner David Furlong — who was part of an alleged network of professionals cultivated by Councilor Tsirekas to help usher through planning applications — is also scheduled to give evidence.

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