Telstra director Charles Macek was sharing a panel with the likes of Tim Costello and Crikey last Thursday, which happened to be the day the mooted chairman of the Future Fund’s comments about corporate crime appeared in The Australian.

“Directors must treat confidential company information confidentially, and under no circumstances can they use it for personal benefit,” Macek told The Australian in comments he stressed weren’t directed specifically at Vizard. “I regard it as totally unacceptable, and in some cases more serious than other crimes because it’s committed by people of financial substance in positions of trust.”

It’s reasonable for Australia’s corporate elite to wait before commenting until the judge deals with Steve Vizard next week, although the whole “can’t talk, it’s sub judice” argument is weakened because the former funny man has agreed to a series of extraordinarily damaging facts about his blatant insider trading.

The only other current or former Telstra director to weigh in so far is Frank Blount in the Herald Sun last week, and all he could be coaxed into saying was: “We all know that’s against the rules.”

Crikey can add one more today – John Menadue. “I was surprised at (ASIC’s) decision to proceed only on the civil side,” the man who sat on the Telstra board from 1992 until 1996 told Crikey reporter Sophie Vorrath.

“All I can think is perhaps the DPP had compelling reasons… perhaps they felt they couldn’t succeed down the criminal route.”

“I would also add that there is not much doubt boards have access to a lot of information about what’s happening in their industry. And it’s very important that be kept confidential.”

Given all this reticence before Vizard is banned and fined, we’ll be keeping tabs on which current and former Telstra directors are prepared to speak out once the Federal Court deals with him next week. These are the 28 people to watch. Yes, that’s right – the Telstra board room has seen no fewer than 28 directors move through those revolving doors since the Howard Government came to office less than a decade ago:

Ross Adler: 1996-2000
Frank Blount: 1991-1998
Mark Burrows: 1995-1996
Sam Chisholm: 2000-2003
Anthony Clark: 1996-2005
Michael Codd: 1992-1999
Brian Finn: 1992-1996
John Fletcher:2000-
David Hoare: 1991-1998 (chairman)
Belinda Hutchinson: 2001-
Malcolm Irving: 1997-2000
Catherine Livingstone: 2000-
Charles Macek: 2001-
Bob Mansfield: 1999-2004 (last four years as chairman)
Bill Mansfield: 1992-1996
Donald McGauchie: 1998- (chairman past year)
John Menadue: 1994-1996
Cecilia Moar 1998-2001
Elisabeth Nosworthy: 1991-2001
John Ralph: 1996-2005
Peter Redlich: 1992-1996
Chris Roberts: 1991-2000
John Stocker: 1996-2000
Ziggy Switkowski: 1998-2005
Sol Trujillo: 2005-
Robert Tsenin: 1991-1996
Helen Williams: 1996
Stephen Wilson: 1992-1996

The September 1996 purge by Vizard’s mate Richard Alston isn’t looking too flash. Dumped were Mark Burrows, John Menadue, Bill Mansfield, Brian Finn, Stephen Wilson, Helen Williams (then Tourism department chief), Peter Redlich and Robert Tsenin. They were replaced by John Stocker, Steve Vizard, Tony Clark, Ross Adler and John Ralph, a group which constituted a neat cross-section of Alston and Howard’s personal friends, plus a couple of major party donors and veteran Liberal supporters.

Peter Fray

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