An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens

Please note: An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens is a work in progress – January 2019.

PLEASE NOTE: 

An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens is still being edited:- thank you.

In 1994, the Australian Government promised that all of our ongoing phone and faxing problems would be fixed as part of our government endorsed arbitration and mediation processes – a promise they never delivered.  Even when the government were informed of these injustices against the 21-type COT Cases, they only assisted five of those cases (as this injustice page shows) The other 16 cases, as we have shown below were left without the documents they were promised they would receive if they trusted the process.

It is most important to understand that while it might seem like I am criticising the five COT ‘litmus test’ cases because they not only secured compensation but also managed to collect some of their previously withheld arbitration documents, this is certainly not the case – far from it.

What my research has uncovered from the documents I hope to release very soon on absentjustice.com, is that at least two of those five ‘litmus test’ cases was forced to accept less than 30% of the original value of their claims, purely because, by the time that person was offered compensation, five years after he first went into arbitration, he or she was on their knees financially and sinking further very fast. Grabbing this less-than-30% was just like a drowning person desperately grabbing a partly inflated life-raft in the hope that it would keep them afloat.  In the case of the COTs, they hoped to keep their businesses ‘afloat’ a bit longer, while they continued to challenge the system that forced them into the position they were then in.

Of course, for government minders to admit, after 22 years, I am right and that none of the COT arbitrations should have commenced while the New South Wales police was investigating Telstra for rorting millions upon millions of dollars from the Australian public, who then owned Telstra (see following link > SENATE official Hansard – Parliament of Australia), would be an admission most bureaucrats could not possibly bear. But for them to admit they also allowed the COT arbitrations to commence when the Australian Federal Police was investigating the defendants (Telstra) for unauthorised interception of the claimants’ phone and fax services, before those claimants even entered their arbitration process, was a situation that was totally unacceptable.

And yet, even worse, Telstra was somehow able to pressure AUSTEL, the then government communications regulator, into providing the then Minister for Communications, The Hon Michael Lee MP, and the arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes with a grossly sanitised version of AUSTEL’s findings on the COT investigations, (see Chapter Two Front Page Part One) and 20111025143553046 – 20130627133948062). That this happened, just prior to the COT four signing their individual arbitration agreements with the defendants (Telstra), is appalling. The current government, who is aware only the five litmus-test cases finally received their promised documents, should now be demanding the remaining 16 also receive justice, in a democratic manner.

The Casualties of Telstra (COT cases) arbitration issues are very complex and we have attempted to separate the various different issues into different pages, here at absentjustice.com.  You can find these different topics listed in the menu bar at the top of this page. We are sure that, if we not done this, then much of the corruption, and the collusive practices, that were all so firmly embedded in the arbitration processes themselves, would have been lost. In particular, the events at Front Page Part One discuss the same meeting with Senator Ron Boswell that is reported in Senate Hansard records of 20 September 2005 and this is because we need everyone to clearly understand the impact that these kind of events had on the COT cases people, not only during but also long after the end of our arbitrations.  We understand that we have therefore sometimes repeated parts of our story on this website, or we have perhaps repeated statements made by various people (just as we have done here), but that is simply because we need to stress exactly how incestuous the corruption was, right throughout the COT arbitrations.

Although we have produced the following statement by Senator Ron Boswell in official Hansard dated 20 September 1995, discussing the injustices the four original COT claimants ( i.e. Ann Garms, Maureen Gillan, Graham Schorer and me) experienced prior and during our arbitrations see below it was important to remind the reader again to the following statements:

Senator Ron Boswell

Not only were they being denied all necessary documents to mount their case against Telecom, causing much delay, but they were denied access to documents that could have influenced them when negotiating the arbitration rules, and even in whether to enter arbitration at all.” (see Senate File No/1)

On 20 August 1997, during the period I was in Parliament House, Canberra, in conference with Senator Ron Boswell and four other COT cases, my Melbourne lawyers, Michael Brereton & Co, faxed a letter to Senator Ron Boswell, detailing how the arbitration had failed me:

“The conduct of the arbitration which followed was highly dubious and open to attack as inviting questions of bias since the arbitrator ruled out many relevant documents to the detriment of Mr Smith’s claim… All of these circumstances and the fact that the entire arbitration was conducted in a highly legalistic manner much in favour of Telstra on rules it forced into place suggest that Mr Smith was less than fairly dealt with by Telstra and the arbitrator.” (See Senate Evidence File No/58)

Senator Ron Boswell’s son Steven said this letter supports the COT cases’ claims against the conduct of the arbitration process. I was, by then, included as one of the cases the Senate estimates committee working party was to investigate. At this stage, however, in August/September 1997, the Senate working party had not yet divided the 21 COT claimants into two groups, the A (or ‘litmus’) list and the B list. All members at this gathering, along with Senator Ron Boswell and including Graham Schorer, COT spokesperson, knew all 21 COT cases, who went through either arbitration or mediation, were all denied FOI (discovery) documents and therefore were to be included in the process being set up by senators to have all of the COT cases’ FOI complaints validated. After all, with Telstra shortly to be privatised, it was paramount all the 21 COT cases who could prove documents were withheld from them, during their arbitration and mediation processes, had their claims resolved though the proposed Senate investigation.

Graham Schorer, (as spokesperson for the COT Cases) has noted that he, the Commonwealth Ombudsman and a number of senators believed all 21 COT cases would be treated the same. It was decided, in September 1997, that six COTs should be litmus-test cases, and all parties agreed upon this compromise. One, due to illness, withdrew at the last moment, leaving five COT cases to be the spearhead. Ross Plowman, Ralph Bova, Anthony Honer (who also withdrew later) and Graham Schorer were chosen, as their claims had not been finalised by the arbitrator. COT case Ann Garms, who had appealed arbitrator Dr Hughes’ award in the Supreme Court of Victoria, was included on the litmus list – although she lost her appeal (which cost her in excess of $600,000 in legal fees).

All of the COTs, including the 16 on list B, were not only discriminated against by their own government but they also were victims of the arbitrator, as he chose, or was forced to choose, to conduct the arbitrations outside the ambit of the agreed arbitration procedures, having lost control over the process.

The remaining 16 COTs received no justice at all as only the litmus cases were addressed: the B list were ignored.

Chapter One

Major Fraud Group – Victoria police

Now I need to jump ahead of myself here to 1999 and 2001, five years after the conclusion of my arbitration. During 1999, the Major Fraud Group Victoria Police asked me to supply any evidence I had of Telstra committing fraud to support its defence during my 1994/95 arbitration. It was common knowledge in government circles that Telstra, indeed, used fraud in defence documents, as well as submitted false information to the Senate in September and October 1997, concerning this same fraud. As I did during my 1994 arbitration, when I assisted the Australia Federal Police during its investigation into Telstra’s unethical conduct towards me (see Senate Evidence File No 31), I agreed to assist the Victoria Police in their 1999 investigations into similar acts of misconduct towards fellow Australian citizens.

I ask you to consider two witness statements, dated 8 and 10 August 2006, referring to the 1999 and 2001 Major Fraud Group investigations: one statement was prepared by a government public servant/ex-police officer and the other by an ex very-senior Telstra protective officer (later promoted to principal investigator). Both statements are discussed on our Absentjustice Preface page AFP Evidence File No 13. Members of the current government were provided with copies of these witness statements, without redactions. Sadly, the information in these two witness statements, to date, has not been acted upon.

The Telstra ex-senior protective service officer’s witness statement discusses a then still senior detective sergeant of the then Major Fraud Group, Victoria Police. The ex-police officer’s witness statement also describes the anguish experienced by the senior detective sergeant while he was investigating alleged fraud within Telstra during the COT arbitrations and the fears he had after being subjected to intimidation. Consider this: if this feeling of being got at by the Telstra Corporation can reduce a fully trained senior police officer to the condition Telstra’s ex- senior protective service officer alleged, just think how this continued and unaddressed harassment, by Telstra officials, left the COT cases during and after their government-endorsed arbitrations. NONE of us were ever offered counselling or apologised to by the government, who still owned Telstra when this harassment commenced in 1992 (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1) and continued well past the Major Fraud Group investigations of 1999 and 2001.

After I provided a second report to Mr. Neil Jepson (see Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report), the Major Fraud Group asked me to assist them to compile this evidence for its own investigations. I did this over two separate visits to Melbourne: spending two full days at the Major Fraud Group’s St. Kilda Road (Melbourne) offices. I have released these reports, Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report and Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report (see above menu bar), because the Major Fraud Group was stunned at my evidence and my ability to prove Telstra perverted the course of justice, by submitting false evidence to Dr. Gordon Hughes, the arbitrator, on two occasions. Telstra released fresh evidence, inconsistent with its arbitration submissions, on 23 May 1995, i.e., two weeks after Dr. Hughes handed down his award. Although Dr. Hughes was alerted to this deception, he and the administration did nothing, despite Dr. Hughes using both false reports to reach his decision that my business was no longer experiencing phone and faxing problems, when it was clear the faults continued throughout my arbitration. This is what rocked members of the Major Fraud Group: that regardless of me spending over $200,000 in arbitration fees to fix these problems, they were still clearly apparent.

After the Federal Government put the Major Fraud Group under political pressure to abandon the four COT claims of fraud against Telstra, I met two senior Victorian police officers who apologised for what they realised was truly an ordeal for me: not only my failed arbitration but also the failed Victoria Police investigation. I was provided with a small A4 storage-box, taped shut. They advised me my four larger boxes of evidence would be couriered to my designated location. I asked if this small package could be included, as I preferred not to carry it away. The look in the eyes of the police officer in charge was stern and direct, and when he stated, “NO, you take this box with you now,” I didn’t argue!

It turned out that this box contained some startling documents I had not seen before, documents that would shock most Senators today, but which clearly indicated that their predecessors had allowed only five of the twenty-one legitimate COT claimants to have access to discovery documents and had also organised compensation for those five, compensation that ran into the millions upon millions of dollars in hush money, and all of that was accomplished so that the Telstra Corporation could be privatized.  Now, if I am wrong, and that is not the case, then why were the remaining sixteen COT claimants all denied access to any of the privileges that the five ‘litmus test cases’ had been granted, and why did a letter from the Senate Estimates Committee Chair advise the police that two In-camera Hansard records, dated 6 and 9 July 1998, must not be provided to anyone outside of the Major Fraud Group and, if someone did reveal them then that person risked being sentenced to jail?  Interestingly, the 9 July 1998 Hansard clearly states that to only award compensation to the ‘litmus test cases’ that were being investigated by the Senate Committee Working Party, and not to the other sixteen claimants, would be an injustice?

It might be hard to believe but, back in August 2001, and again in December 2004, the Australian Government threatened, in writing, to have me charged with contempt of the Senate if I was to ever disclose these in-camera Hansard records, even though those documents could well have won our cases if the COT claimants had appealed against the arbitration process? Where is the justice in that? Being charged with contempt of the Senate can result in a two-year jail term and, of course, the Government has always known that but, if I had been in a position to safely go ahead and make these documents public, they would have been a huge help, probably resulting in me winning my appeal against Telstra for gross misconduct.  So how can the Senate continue to hide this conduct and, in the process, destroy so many lives? How is this democratic?

To understand how and why this occurred, we need to go back to 1997, when the John Howard Coalition Government was in the throes of executing the first of its three steps towards the final privatisation of Telstra. Then, towards the middle of October 1998, the COT ‘litmus test’ cases were, eventually and slowly, beginning to receive some of the previously withheld documents they had legally requested. It then became apparent that the Howard Government was selling the Telstra Corporation, i.e. a government asset, which was in a much worse state than the Government Communications Regulator had claimed it was in (see Manipulating the Regulator and Cape Bridgewater Evidence File). After some 150,000 previously withheld documents were finally delivered to the ‘litmus test’ cases (see An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens) the picture that began to emerge clearly identified exactly how bad the Telstra copper-wire network was, certainly in many rural locations. It then seemed that this was the real reason for the Government’s decision to stop the remaining sixteen COT claimants from receiving the same privileges as those awarded to the ‘litmus test’ cases, which eventually took more than two years to assess. Could the Government afford to have the truth of Telstra’s dilapidated network exposed just as they were about to privatise the corporation? I think not.

I am convinced that when the Major Fraud Group ‘inadvertently’ provided me with copies of these Hansard records, they believed that those records would be instrumental in eventually creating justice for the remaining sixteen COT Cases. Our webpage An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens shows however that this was never the case.

The government may believe the FOI litmus test for only five of the 21 COT cases is a government matter, however, note how discriminative this process has been – giving free technical advice to some COT cases concerning their FOI requests while refusing/failing to assist the other 16 COT cases who also suffered at the hands of Telstra.

For obvious reasons, I have only skipped over the duties I performed while assisting the Major Fraud Group during their COT investigations.

It is important to raise the Victorian Major Fraud Group’s police involvement in the COT cases’ matters (as well as a number of parties associated with the Major Fraud Group), as it is clearly linked to our An Injustice to the Remaining 16 Australian Citizens page. I was not one of the four COT cases’ litmus group, who, through Sue Owens (barrister) lodged complaints against Telstra with the Major Fraud Group in 1999. I was seconded some months later as a witness. The litmus COT cases provided my evidence of Telstra committing fraud against me, during my arbitration (see Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report), to the Senate estimates committee during their FOI investigations. Despite this, the chair of the Senate estimates committee discarded my evidence (even though it had been provided On Notice to Senator Ron Boswell). It was this discarded evidence the Major Fraud Group asked me to supply at the request of their barrister, Neil Jepson.

After I provided another report to Neil Jepson (see Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report), the Major Fraud Group asked me to assist them in compiling this evidence for their investigations. I did this over two separate visits to Melbourne spending two full days at the Major Fraud Group’s St. Kilda Road offices. This is important to the litmus tests cases issue because the Major Fraud Group was stunned at the evidence and how I was able to prove Telstra definitely perverted the course of justice, on two occasions, by submitting false evidence to Dr. Hughes, the arbitrator appointed to my case.

It was some time later (after the Major Fraud Group abandoned the four COT litmus cases’ claims against Telstra) that I was again seconded to Melbourne by Neil Jepson. Mr. Jepson was clearly distressed – not only because the case against Telstra had folded through political pressure by the then Liberal National Party – but also because my evidence against Telstra was ignored by the Senate, despite Telstra knowingly providing this false information to the arbitrator as well as the Senate.

Neil Jepson asked me to go the office of the person handling the abandoned police investigation. There I met two senior Victorian police officers who apologised for what they realised was truly an ordeal for me. Not just my failed arbitration, but now the failed Victoria Police investigation. They provided me a small A4 storage box taped shut. They advised me my other four larger storage boxes of evidence would be couriered to my designated location. I asked if this small package could be included, as I preferred not to carry it away. The look in the eyes of the police officer in charge was stern and direct, and when he stated, “NO, you take this box with you now,” I didn’t argue!

It turned out that this box contained some startling documents I had not seen before, documents that would shock most Senators today, but which clearly indicated that their predecessors had allowed only five of the twenty-one legitimate COT claimants to have access to discovery documents and had also organised compensation for those five, compensation that ran into the millions upon millions of dollars in hush money, and all of that was accomplished so that the Telstra Corporation could be privatized.  Now, if I am wrong, and that is not the case, then why were the remaining sixteen COT claimants all denied access to any of the privileges that the five ‘litmus test cases’ had been granted, and why did a letter from the Senate Estimates Committee Chair advise the police that two In-camera Hansard records, dated 6 and 9 July 1998, must not be provided to anyone outside of the Major Fraud Group and, if someone did reveal them then that person risked being sentenced to jail?  Interestingly, the 9 July 1998 Hansard clearly states that to only award compensation to the ‘litmus test cases’ that were being investigated by the Senate Committee Working Party, and not to the other sixteen claimants, would be an injustice?

Although the exposure of these In-camera Hansard records would have helped both me and the other fifteen COT claimants to have our FOI matters reviewed, I chose not to risk a jail sentence, particularly when, in 2004, I received a second letter from the Senate Chair with the same threat!

Chapter Two

Australian Senate

In this chapter, we aim to show that, during the five litmus Senate estimates committee FOI investigations, errors were disclosed – such as the Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) testing process, which was shown to be deficient and, in my case, impracticable. At that time, all participating COT members were content to wait, believing the investigation of the litmus cases would flow onto the remaining 16 on the Senate schedule B list and none of the 16 COT cases were notified of the progress as the investigation proceeded. John Wynack, director of investigations assisting the Senate chair and the litmus cases, was also investigating my FOI issues and demanding Telstra provide the requested documents I originally sought in my 18 October 1995 FOI request.

Although the COT litmus-test cases received some 150,000 FOI documents, through the Senate estimates committee investigation (see Senate Evidence File No/11), I did not receive one single document as John Wynack’s records show. Mr Wynack’s letters, of 11 and 13 March 1997, show he did not accept Telstra stating it destroyed the arbitration file I sought to use in my pending appeal process.

All of the remaining other COT cases, whose names appear on the Senate schedule list B, also sought FOI documents from Telstra during their respective arbitration and mediation process, as did the litmus tests cases, all this was known by the Senate estimates committee and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office. This was the reason a litmus-test situation was set up. The Senate schedule A list named the litmus tests cases and the Schedule B listed the remaining 16 cases. If the litmus test cases proved their case, that Telstra had withheld relevant documents during their arbitrations and was still doing so, then the remaining 16 cases would automatically receive a similar outcome.

But, the Australian litmus cases were treated differently to the remaining 16 Australians citizens, who were dismissed. Why? The answer is simple: politics and time. It took almost two years, using numerous senators’ valuable time, just to obtain the documents for the five litmus cases. Some consider the pending Telstra privatisation may also have played a part in why the 16 were dismissed the way they were. This is possibly the worst multiple discrimination against 16 Australians citizens.

Litmus Tests

What the coalition LNP government perpetrated against 16 citizens of Australia, from 1997 to 1999, after what was exposed in Senate Hansard records, dated 24 and 25 June 1997, is incredible. The LNP government knew that not only should the litmus-test cases receive their requested documents but so should the other 16. These Hansards, only a day apart, confirm the Telstra Corporation acted illegally against all 21 citizens, yet the government only sanctioned Telstra to pay compensation to the litmus cases, and not the remaining 16. The litmus cases (as stated above) also received 150,000, or more, previously withheld discovery documents (see Senate Evidence File No/11), which allowed them to appeal their arbitration process. But the remaining 16, who didn’t receive their withheld documents, were unable to appeal.

An LNP senator threatened I would be held in contempt of the Senate if I publicly exposed in-camera Senate Hansards, dated 6 and 9 July 1998, showing even worse discrimination. In fact, after one National Party senator verbally attacked a very senior Telstra arbitration officer, stating, “You are really a disgrace, the whole lot of you,” regarding the Telstra officers involved in the COT arbitrations, he then apologised to the chair of the Senate committee, stating:

“Madam, I withdraw that, but I do say this: this has got a unity ticket going right through this parliament. This has united every person in this parliament – something that no-one else has ever had the ability to do – and Telstra has done it magnificently. They have got the Labor Party, they have got the National Party, they have got the Liberal Party, they have got the Democrats and they have got the Greens – all united in a singular distrust of Telstra. You have achieved a miracle.”

A Labor Party senator also made it clear to the same Telstra arbitration officer that if Telstra was to award compensation only to the litmus COT cases, then this act “would be an injustice to the 16”.

The FOI Act allows the respondent 30 days to supply requested information, yet the senior Telstra official, at the brunt of these senator’s attack, wrote to me, on 23 May 1995, two weeks after my arbitration appeal period expired. Accompanying his letter were numerous documents, hundreds, which I originally requested in May 1994, one month after I signed my arbitration.

This same official, while on the TIO council, provided in-confidence COT-related advice to another senior Telstra executive. The document in question shows he obtained the information while wearing his TIO hat. He also, prior to this severe reprimand by the Senate on 9 July 1998, advised another Senate estimates committee hearing, on 26 September 1997, that at no time during these TIO monthly meetings did he declare his conflict of interest. When the Senate asked TIO John Pinnock if COT arbitration issues were discussed at these TIO council meetings, he answered YES.

The government may believe the FOI litmus test for only five of the 21 COT cases is a government matter, however, note how discriminative this process has been – giving free technical advice to some COT cases concerning their FOI requests while refusing/failing to assist the other 16 COT cases who also suffered at the hands of Telstra.

Correspondence to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, from various technical experts appointed via the Senate working party to assess the relevance of FOI documents that the litmus COT claimants asked Telstra to provide, includes a letter from Qyncom IT & T Business Consultants Pty Ltd (Victoria) to Mr John Wynack, as chair of the working party (see Senate Evidence File No 13A & 13B). This 14-page letter, and many others to the Commonwealth Ombudsman, show the litmus COT claimants received free of charge, qualified technical assistance from government-appointed independent technical consultants. The other 16 claimants were denied these same privileges. If this is not discrimination of the worse possible kind, then what is?

Senate Schedule A and B list

Was there a second, or even a third, reason why the remaining 16 COT cases were denied the same type of compensation paid to the litmus-test cases? What other questions might the larger group of 21 claimants expose in the sale prospectus? Addressing a few still-unaddressed four-year-old arbitration claims, prior to the prospectus being prepared, would look better than 21 still-unaddressed four-year-old arbitration claims. Especially considering those 16 claimants had still not received their relevant discovery documents under the agreed FOI Act – an agreement reached with the administrator prior to arbitration that documents would be provided under FOI to enable us to prove our cases (see Arbitrator File No/71). The government knew Telstra was still refusing to supply relevant documents at the time of this litmus-test process, four years later.

On 23 October 1997, the office of Senator Schacht, Shadow Minister for Communications, faxed Senator Ron Boswell the proposed terms of reference for the Senate working party for their investigation into the COT arbitration FOI issues. This document shows the two lists of unresolved COT cases with FOI issues to be investigated. My name appears on Schedule B list (see Arbitrator File No 67). Telstra, by still refusing to supply these 16 COT cases with promised discovery documents, first requested four years earlier, was acting outside of the rule of law and yet, regardless of Telstra breaking the law, these 16 claimants received no help from the police, arbitrator or government bureaucrats and were denied access to their documents, as absentjustice.com shows.

150,000 FOI Documents 

The 150.000 late provided FOI documents to the five litmus tests cases mentioned above was not of a historic nature in the case of Ann Garms and Graham Schorer, the eleven large storage box that I received from   Graham’s office in 2006, when I started to investigate these issues for Graham I did not see any Leopard Data for the exchanges that Graham’s Golden Messenger Courier Services has routed through. So it is quite clear from the three numbered emails discussed below TIO Evidence File No 7-A to 7-C) are true to their wording. That is, Telstra did not keep Leopard historic fault data longer than 12 to 13 months.  This release of 150,000 non historic fault data documents and NOT the requested historic data which the five ‘litmus’ tests cases requested shows that the compensation the five litmus cases received were partly associated with Telstra being unable to provided those five cases the documents they should have received during their arbitrations.

The fact that NONE of the sixteen COT Cases who were also on the Senate schedule B list as unresolved COT FOI Cases is further testament we COT sixteen were discriminated against by the government.

PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING 

In the cases of Ann Garms and Graham Schorer, of the 150,000 FOI documents that were provided to the five ‘litmus-test’ cases, but which, as recorded above, arrived too late for them to use, none were of a historic nature.  In fact, when I first started to investigate these issues for Graham, I did not find any Leopard Data for the exchanges that Graham’s Golden Messenger Courier Services was routed through, anywhere among the eleven large storage boxes that I received from Graham’s office in 2006, so it is quite clear that the three numbered emails discussed below, and at TIO Evidence File No 7-A to 7-C), are the truth, i.e. Telstra did not keep historic Leopard fault data longer than twelve to thirteen months.  The release of those 150,000 non-historic fault data documents, but none of the requested historic data that the five ‘litmus-test’ cases requested, shows that the compensation that those five ‘litmus-test’ cases received was partly associated with Telstra being unable to provide the documents that those COTs should have received during their arbitrations.

I again note: the fact that NONE of the other sixteen COT Cases received any compensation (even though they were also on the Senate Schedule B list as unresolved COT FOI Cases) further proves that the Government discriminated against us sixteen remaining COTs.

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Other COT Case stories 

Over the years, COT claimant Sandra Wolfe, the person Senator Eggleston referred to on 16 August 2001 (see Senate Evidence File No/12), has lodged many claims that her phone conversations were listened to, without her permission, while she was connected to the Telstra network. These complaints are documented by the TIO and a number of past and present senators. Sandra also suffered other kinds of harassment connected to these claims until finally, from sheer frustration of her claims being ignored, Sandra suffered serious bouts of stress-related illnesses. Various Senate Hansard records show senators are clearly concerned that her case should be investigated, together with that of Barbara Oldfield, another person on the Senate Schedule B list.

Senate Hansard records, particularly various senators’ criticisms detailed in the 24 June 1997 Senate Hansard and my discussions with Senator Ron Boswell on 20 August 1997, led me to believe that the still-unresolved problems suffered by Sandra and Barbara would come to light during the proposed Senate estimates committee investigations, along with my still-unresolved claims also.

Sandra and I correspond on a regular basis, although she is now in her 70s and is now a shadow of her former self. She knows how close she came to finally having her Freedom of Information (FOI) claims assessed in the same way as the five litmus test cases. Like me, Sandra was included on the Senate Estimates Schedule B list back in 1997 and, also like the rest of us on that list, her claims were abandoned because she had no political clout.

I am in possession of an official 67-page Queensland police service report dated 24 May 2001, from the office of the Assistant Commissioner, Southern Region, Queensland Police, although it is not kept in my office or my residence. This document marked Confidential and addressed to “Assistant Commissioner Ethical Standards Command”, also recommends that Sandra’s complaints should be assessed and resolved. What has happened, though? Well, the Senate estimates committee and the Liberal government simply turned their backs on Sandra and the rest of us on the B list, and only resolved five of the total 21 cases.

It was this Queensland police report in mind that, to help Sandra, I wrote to Senator Alan Eggleston and suggested that I send copies of the 6 and 9 July 1998 in-camera Senate Hansard records to Mr. Brian Pickard, Sandra’s solicitor.

I discussed Sandra’s case with Neil Jepson, reminding him of events that occurred while I was working with the Victorian Major Fraud Group, when three sets of documents that I had faxed to his office never arrived, even though my fax journal shows they sent successfully (see Senate Evidence File No/53). I explained this was one of the issues Sandra had also experienced and also discussed the January 1999 Steven Scandrett fax-interception evidence (see Open Letter Evidence File Nos/12 and 13) and how it had been provided to the Senate estimate committee as the reason for the five litmus test COTs receiving so much compensation.

But, what about my proof that my faxes were still being intercepted while my arbitration claims were being assessed and that this continued for the next seven years? What about the irrefutable evidence I provided to Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Attorney-General of Victoria between 2007 and 2012?

A senior ex-Telstra protective services officer (name withheld) prepared a witness statement (see Senate Evidence File No/54) on 10 August 2006. He stated his experience as a protective services officer led him to believe that at least one of the Major Fraud Group detectives was under surveillance during the COT investigations. He also states that when he visited Portland in the early ’90s to investigate phone interception issues and could not locate the Portland exchange logbook, Telstra staff at that exchange told him that it was probably removed because of the COT case in Cape Bridgewater (me, of course).

The Commonwealth Ombudsman and I both tried to locate this same logbook, however Telstra would not supply it and the arbitrator said he would not insist on access to it until after Telstra submitted their defence of my arbitration claims. Then, even after they submitted their defence, the arbitrator would still not allow me any extra time to source that logbook. To this day, the logbook has still not been produced. If, as promised, the Schedule B cases had been allowed the same treatment as the Schedule A cases, I would have been able to seek this logbook and prove my case.

So, back to Sandra Wolfe and the threats from the Senate: what can be done to break down the steel door this current government has closed on us, the forgotten COT cases (see Senate Evidence File No/60 Pages 82 to 88)?

Brian Purton-Smith 

The whole Casualties of Telstra (COT Cases) arbitration issue is very complex. Due to this fact, we had no option other than to separate the various stories into the pages as we have done in the menu-bar above. Had we not done so, the fact that the corruption and collusive practices were so firmly embedded into the arbitration processes themselves, all this would have been lost had we not separated these issues. Arbitrator One and Two is a condensed version of a manuscript I hope to publish in the near future on this very sorry saga.

2 June 1999: Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman wrote, Chairman of the TIO’s Council who was also President of the Federal Liberal Party, advising him that COT Case Brian Purton-Smith was ‘not a good case to go to arbitration’ because of ‘the many problems and deficiencies in the arbitration process’, but did anyone offer to help Brian in any other way?  Certainly not; neither the TIO nor the Chairman of the TIO Council, or anyone other government official for that matter, ever offered Brian any alternative to the very arbitration process that the Chairman of AUSTEL, Robin Davey, originally promised Brian in April 1994. In other words, between April 1994 and June 1999, Brian was pushed around, shuffled from here to there, and forced to spend thousands and thousands of dollars over this five year period, all the while believing he would eventually go through arbitration like the rest of the COT claimants, but all the time, all Brian’s correspondence was being read and pushed aside as if he was a nobody.

One important question (from among many) that has never been answered by the TIO or Telstra is, since Brian had a complex case and his communication losses were associated with two different companies he once owned, was the interception of his correspondence more related to what he had lost due to Telstra’s faulty network? Whatever the answer to this question might be though, what is most important is that Brian is an Australian citizen and neither the TIO nor the Government Communications Regulator should ever have promised him an arbitration process if they never intended that his case would be arbitrated.  If Brian had received the correct advice in the beginning, which was that his case would not be arbitrated on because of the many problems and deficiencies in the arbitration process’, then perhaps he could have had his matters assessed by Slater & Gordon on a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis instead or some similar legal firm a process that Slater & Gordon offered to another COT claimant.

If the arbitrations were so poorly administered then why wasn’t Brian provided with an alternative resolution process?

Why has Brian been ‘hung out to dry’ (as the saying goes) since 1999?

Is Brian not a worthy citizen of Australia?

This astonishing story reveals how various public servants from the Australian Communication Regulator’s office, who were appointed to investigate Brian’s case against Telstra, were blinded to the real truth by what was then the government-owned telecommunications carrier and so did not carry out their duties impartially. This has left Brian as yet another Casualty of Telstra.

As the COT issues ground slowly forward however, a number of more scrupulous government ministers became interested in us and our stand and tried to help. Even though they were appalled to learn that legitimate small business people had been treated so badly, and even though they believed, at first, that they would be able to ensure that the COTs were provided with a phone system comparable to the bigger Australian corporations, they found themselves fighting a battle that was so heavily weighted against the COTs that even the power that went with their positions was no help.

Brian is certainly not the only casualty of a corporation that has enormous power over the Australian legal system, including many of the larger legal firms, but it is interesting to note that government records show that, between 1994 and 1999, forty-three of the most prominent legal firms were on retainer to Telstra, which meant, in effect, that the COTs were on their own. Eventually, together with a joint claim lodged by Barbara Oldfield & Carol Clark and another lodged by Sandra Wolf (see below), they were all forced into believing that the only choice they had was to place their trust in the TIO’s office. That, however, turned out to be a serious mistake (see absentjustice.com/Other Cases/Evidence File No/1).

So I am not the only story where lives have been ruined by a process that, as the TIO advised the then Chairman of the TIO Counscil, ‘had many problems and deficiencies’ and, if the TIO and this then Chairman of the TIO Council had just told the Australian Federal Government what they had uncovered in June 1999, of the ‘the many problems and deficiencies in the arbitration process’ both Brian, myself and other COT Cases who were offered a government investigation of our claims in March 2006, by Senator Helen Coonan, we could have used this information to support our 2006 claims and more than likely, we would have won those claims. After all, how could Senator Helen Coonan’s assessors have argued that there were ‘many problems and deficiencies in the arbitration process’.

In relation to the COT v Telstra claims, Senator Barnaby Joyce (National Party) met with myself, Graham Scherer (COT spokesperson) Brian Perton Smith, Carol Clark (on behalf of Barbara Oldfield) and ten other COT claimants in Brisbane, in July 2005, to discuss the COTs then still ongoing complaints against Telstra.  Senator Joyce was so overwhelmed by the evidence provided by this group of fourteen, and the stories they told him about their Telstra related arbitration issues, that he agreed to take their matters directly to Senator Coonan himself.  I

The mini DCITA report on the COT Case arbitration matters had to have been derived from a much larger inaccurate Government archival report compiled on each of the COT Cases Telstra arbitration matters. The fact that the statement made by the TIO in his letter of 2 June, 1999 to the Chairman of the TIO Council that there were: ‘…many problems and deficiencies in the arbitration process’,  is not sighted in the mini DCITA archive report (which was used as a bench mark to see whether the COT Case matters had been successfully resolved) and GS 522 shows this was not the case means quiet clearly the COT case issues are still unresolved in 2015.

Story three– the following is only in draft format

Miscarriage of Justice

Princes[1]

Very early in the piece, when the COTs were offered arbitration or mediation, Barbara Oldfield was one of those who chose mediation instead.  Barbara was then running a Brisbane (Queensland) business called “Lady-Lace” but had previously spent twenty-eight years as a member of the Victorian police, ending that part of her career as a Chief Inspector, which was no mean feat in what was then, back in the 1980s and early 1990s, a male-dominated police force.  That experience taught Barbara what discrimination was like and hard it was to overcome, but she could never have imagined the battle she would go on to experience when her business telephone system began to fail.  Unluckily for Barbara her business was connected to a telephone exchange in Fortitude Valley, a Brisbane suburb.

At point 2.58 in the formal AUSTEL April 1994 COT Cases Report it is noted that survey was conducted by way of a telephone interview over a four days ending on 24 November 1993. A total of 2700 small business customers were surveyed – 300 small business four designated locations four in Victoria, three in New South Wales, one in Brisbane and one in Adelaide.

Many Telstra FOI documents (supplied to our two websites) ‘telephone-survey documents’ show that a number of small business complaints came from the Fortitude Valley/ Lutwyche Exchange in Brisbane. Of those small businesses contacted, customers in the overall survey:

“73% of customers who felt the problems associated with incoming calls had seriously affected their business had reported the problems to Telecom with varying degrees of success regarding resolution”,

and FOI document 10117 also notes:

“19% of all businesses with incoming call problems felt these had adversely affected the business significantly or very significantly”.

With this type of information available it should have been provided to ALL the COT cases who were either going into arbitration or mediation like that of  Barbara Oldfield ‘Lady Lace’  whose business was switched via the Lutwyche Exchange through to the Fortitude Valley Exchange.

On the 9 April 1999, a Melbourne solicitor, Mr William Hunt (Melbourne solicitor) spoke to Barry O’Sullivan (now Senator Barry O’Sullivan) about various COT/Telstra matters.   A transcript of that conversation records the Senator advising Mr Hunt that some very important documents had come to light during a Senate Estimates Committee Telstra/FOI Investigation.  the now (Senator O’Sullivan) told Mr Hunt that:

“…some very important documents [sic] to light in the last two weeks that I have had a chance to view that largely boosted Garms case enormously. Very simply it was about an upgrade on the exchange on 12th September in a certain year. Telstra have maintained it never happened, it’s in their affidavit, they fought the court cases on it”. 

Because this transcript also names two leading Queensland Senators and records that they provided certain (also named) Queensland National Party stalwarts with privileges that other Australian citizens were not given, I have not yet released the full document but, on 4 May 2014, he sent a copy to the Hon Tony Abbot, the current Prime Minister of Australia, asking whether it should be released or not.

This transcript refers to the Fortitude Valley Exchange that COT member Ann Garm’s business was linked through and raises the issue of whether or not Ms Garms was quite possibly granted the millions of dollars she received in compensation after it had been discovered that Telstra lied in their affidavits.  But hang on here a minute, isn’t that the same Fortitude Valley Exchange that the businesses of COT members Maureen Gillan and Barbara Oldfield were also connected to?  And weren’t both those cases also included in the Senate Estimates Committee terms of reference, just like Ms Garms?  So, while Ms Garms was given access to this very important exchange document that Senator O’Sullivan referred to, and was then compensated royally through the Senate Estimates Committee working party that document should also have been given to Ms Gillan and Ms Oldfield, and if it had been given to them, both their lives would have changed dramatically and, from then on, their lives would have improved spectacularly.

Put this Barbara Oldfield/Maureen Gillan/ Lutwyche and Fortitude Valley issue together with the information in with all the other information disclosed on   justicecommand.com which discusses in more detail the Senate Estimates Committee working party process and how it discriminated against the sixteen COTs on the Senate’s “B” list, and it is easy to see how difficult it has been for those sixteen to be thoroughly ignored, when the five ‘litmus test’ COTs not only received at least some of the documents that had previously been withheld from them (and the sixteen didn’t receive any at all), but the five were also handed huge financial compensation packages as well.

Even now I still have threats of a possible jail term hanging over me in relation to those secret In-Camera Senate Hansards , but I believe it is worth the risk to note here that they show that many Senators must have known that the sixteen COTs on the ‘B’ list had been seriously discriminated against when they were not provided with their discovery documents like the five on the ‘litmus test’ list were.  Furthermore, if those two Hansards were assessed in connection with Article 7 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights then that discrimination would be even more obvious because page one of the first of those secret Hansards records how the Senate Estimates Committee Working Party were actually addressing arbitration issues that had previously been addressed ‘under the confidentiality provisions clause in the arbitration’ and had only been seen by the COT arbitrator and those who had participated in the various arbitrations although, according to that first page, those ‘in confidence’ issues were now also being examined by the Senate Working Party to determine their relevance.

Pages 139 to 143 of the Senate Estimates Committee Hearing Hansard report of 26 September 1997 makes it is quite clear that Ms Oldfield was not treated at all well by various Telstra officers; her treatment was certainly not what anyone would expect of a what was then a government-owned corporation.   That situation is made even worse by one Telstra officer in particular, who was also a member of the TIO Council, and who later denied that Telstra had ever threatened Ms Oldfield at all during her mediation, which is bad enough on its own but, when it is compared with the threats that I also definitely received from Telstra during my arbitration, and the fact that it was this same Telstra officer/TIO Council Member who admitted, in this same Senate Committee Hearing, that he never declared his conflict of interest during the monthly TIO Council meetings that he attended, not even when the TIO noted that COT arbitration issues were to be discussed.

It was this same Telstra officer/TIO Council member who, on 23 May 1995, two weeks after the arbitrator had handed down my award and while wearing his Telstra hat, provided me with some of the most relevant documents I had originally requested under FOI back in May 1994, and yet, here he is again, making statements about Ms Oldfield’s mediation process without Ms Oldfield being present,  So we have the word of one man who, in 1995, at this same Senate Committee Hearing, had been fully aware by November 1995 that Bell Canada International Inc. could not possibly have performed any of the tests that their report claimed they had carried out in Cape Bridgewater, over six days (see Main Evidence File No/), but still he stood by while another Telstra officer advised Senator Schacht that only one of those tests might have been flawed.

This Hansard record however does not record any reference to the previous TIO, (the COT arbitrator) and TIO Special Counsel receiving a letter dated 18 April 1995 (see Senate Evidence File No/42 – absentjustice.com) from the TIO’s Arbitration Resource Unit, warning all of them that “there have been forces at work collectively beyond our reasonable control that have delayed us in undertaking our work” during the first four arbitrations (which included  my arbitration). Are we to assume that it then never crossed the mind of the TIO that perhaps Ms Oldfield’s story might, in fact, be true and it was these same forces at work’ that had derailed the first four COT arbitrations that had also upset the stability of her mediation?  Did it not dawn on the TIO that Ms Oldfield’s case was being discussed by the Senate Estimate Committee because the Special Counsel, Arbitrator and TIO had not passed the Resource Unit’s warning on to the appropriate law enforcement agencies?

PLEASE NOTE: Senate Estimates Committee Hansard of 26 September, 1997 which discusses Ms Oldfield’s mediation issues will be available for downloading towards the end of September 2015.

The COT Group have received an email on (18 June 2015) from another member of the COT group who wants her story told on absentjustice.com and who is currently having her material edited.

We hope to have more details regarding all three of these stories by the end of June 2015 and we are thinking about adding a separate link for both them and any others that might be submitted, so that they can be read individually but, collectively, they will also be available for the Australian Government to have another look at our various claims.

The following story should be of great interest and amazement to readers. I have already read a Queensland Confidential Brief on a part of this lady’s story, and while these comments will not be fully discussed here, the government will be advised of the Brief.  It will only be made available for a private viewing to a designated member of parliament, nominated by this lady.

The thing about this particular story is that she is known to Brian Purton Smith, Barbara Oldfield, Carol Clark and me, because all five of us were promised by the, then,  Senator Barnaby Joyce on September 2006, that he had secured a deal with the government to have our still unresolved Telstra related issues commercially  assessed.

Australian Senate Canberra
Australian Senate Parliament House Canberra

On 18 August 2001, Senator Alan Eggleston wrote to me, noting:

“I am very concerned with your statement in the 6 August letter that you are in possession of two in-camera Official Committee Hansards, relating to this issue, dated 6 and 9 July 1998. Furthermore, that you intend sending these confidential Hansards to Mr Brian Pickard, Ms Sandra Wolfe’s solicitor.

“I wish to remind you that evidence or documents taken in camera or submitted on a confidential or restricted basis cannot be disclosed to another person, unless by order of the Senate. This does not occur often, although the Senate, on 30 August 2000, did authorise the release of the Hansards of 6 and 9 July 1998 to the Victoria Police Major Fraud Group to assist in their investigations.

“The fact that you have received unauthorised confidential committee documents is a serious matter, but if you disclose these documents to another person, you may be held in contempt of the Senate. I would remind you that section 13 of the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 provides for penalties in relation to these matters.” (See Senate Evidence File No 12)

These Hansards prove one senator announced it would be an injustice to the remaining COTs if Telstra paid compensation to only those currently under investigation but not the others. However, Telstra was allowed to compensate only those five litmus test cases.

Also, on October 1997, when Telstra provided the Cape Bridgewater/Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) report in response to questions raised by the Senate, on notice, Telstra already knew it was false but still no one has ever brought Telstra to account for that, even though their actions were in contempt of the Senate.

Former Senator Len Harris

Senator Len Harris – One Nation

He was stunned at how I had collated this evidence into a bound submission. When Senator Harris read Senator Alan Eggleston’s 9 August 2001 letter, warning me that if I disclosed the in-camera Hansard records (which supported my claims that 16 Australian citizens were discriminated against in the most deplorable manner) then I would be held in contempt of the Senate and risk jail, Senator Harris was most upset.

At a press conference the next day, Senator Harris aimed questions at the chief of staff to the Hon Senator Richard Alston, Minister for Communications.

“Through the following questions, the media event will address serious issues related to Telstra’s unlawful withholding of documents from claimants, during litigation.”

  • Why didn’t the present government correctly address Telstra’s serious and unlawful conduct of withholding discovery and/or Freedom of Information (FOI) documents before the T2 float?
  • Why has the Federal government allowed five Australians (from a list of twenty-one) to be granted access to some of the Telstra discovery documents they needed to support their claims against Telstra, but denied the same rights to the other sixteen?
  • Why has the Federal Government ignored clear evidence that Telstra withheld many documents from a claimant during litigation?
  • Why has the Federal Government ignored evidence that, among those documents Telstra did supply, many were altered or delivered with sections illegally blanked out? (See Senate Evidence File No 56)

Senator Len Harris is possibly one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of meeting: a true man who believes in justice for all, not just those with political clout. The senator could not understand how, despite various senators from both houses of parliament openly condemning Telstra’s unethical conduct towards those five litmus-test COT claimants during their arbitrations and the Senate investigation itself, the other 16 ignored. The in-camera Senate Hansard records indicate no one seemed to grasp the importance of Senator Schacht’s advice to the committee that, if Telstra only provided compensation to the five litmus test cases and not the other 16, it would be an injustice because they had also suffered similarly at the hands of Telstra.

The litmus-test claimants, on top of receiving their long-awaited discovery documents, also received millions of dollars in compensation: not only as a result of their business losses but also because of the unethical conduct they suffered at the hands of Telstra. In 2017, however, the remaining claimants from the 16 on the B list (some have now died) are still waiting for the justice that was denied them.

Imagine how I felt, on 6 December 2004, when I received the threat from Senator Alan Eggleston on top of the threats I received from Telstra, after assisted the Australian Federal Police in their investigations into Telstra’s unlawful interception of my telephone conversations. All these threats are linked to the one single issue: the right of all citizens in a democracy to have access to documents classified as ‘discovery’, in any legal process.

There should never have been a litmus test for just five of the 21 COTs, unless the government fully intended to ensure justice was done for all the COTs who were “starved into submission” and suffered the same “heartbreak” at the hands of Telstra. The words starved and heartbreak are quoted from the in-camera Senate Hansard records.

 

DRAFT 

A chronology of events 

Please note: the following information below has only recently been made available. The evidence numbering system has been taken directly from the COT Cases data base ans have not been linked into the text. We hope to complete this work by February 2019: thank you

22  April 2005: Senator Helen Coonan’s office writes to me.

“I refer to your further correspondence of 22 March 2005 to the Hon David Hawker MP concerning your claims against Telstra.

“I wish to correct the impression that the Minister is investigating further claims against Telstra, including claims by some of the original ‘Casualties of Telecom’. (AS 319-A)

Senator Barnaby Joyce

On 15 September 2005, I received a letter from Senator Joyce, advising me that, as part of the Telstra privatisation legislation, Senator Joyce brokered a deal with Senator Coonan so the government would agree to have my outstanding claims independently assessed – if Senator Joyce cast his crucial vote for the privatisation of Telstra, which he did.

“As a result of my thorough review of the relevant Telstra sale legislation, I proposed a number of amendments which were delivered to Minister Coonan. In addition to my requests, I sought from the Minister closure of any compensatory commitments given by the Minister or Telstra and outstanding legal issues. …

I am pleased to inform you that the Minister has agreed there needs to be finality of outstanding COT cases and related disputes. The Minister has advised she will appoint an independent assessor to review the status of outstanding claims and provided a basis for these to be resolved.”  (See Open Letter File No/50-A to 50/C)

22 September 2005: An internal coalition email, concerning the agreed-to COT commercial settlement proposal, from Nikki Vajrabukka notes:

“Key issues for consideration include:

  • Analysis of Senator Joyce’s request, and Minister’s response
  • What the Minister can and can’t do
  • Whether there is any basis to re-open the investigations/appoint an independent assessor
  • If so, who will that be?
  • What powers does the Minister have to direct a person to do so (for example direct the TIO to revisit the cases?)
  • Whether there were any compensatory commitments or warrants of compensation given by the Minister, the Department or Telstra.” (GS 420)

Please note: the question as to whether the minister had the power to grant a commercial assessment was only raised with Senator Joyce after the coalition government secured his crucial vote for the full privatisation of Telstra.

29 September 2005: David Lever, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, sends an internal email to a number of department personnel regarding an independent assessor.

On 15 September 2005, I received a letter from Senator Joyce, advising me that, as part of the Telstra privatisation legislation, Senator Joyce brokered a deal with Senator Coonan so the government would agree to have my outstanding claims independently assessed – if Senator Joyce cast his crucial vote for the privatisation of Telstra, which he did. (See Open Letter File No/50-A to 50/C)

Please note: the question as to whether the minister had the power to grant a commercial assessment was only raised with Senator Joyce after the coalition government secured his crucial vote for the full privatisation of Telstra.

29 September 2005: David Lever, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, sends an internal email to a number of department personnel regarding an independent assessor.

“Matt Stafford rang to say that the Minister wants a draft letter to Senator Joyce by Friday next week that:

  • re-states what she said she would do in her last letter to him;
  • demonstrates that processes are in place to meet her commitment;
  • indicates the cases/persons who the independent assessment would cover, and
  • asks Senator Joyce whether this should meet his needs. …

“I suggest that we do all we can to restrict coverage to the 16 COTs that were considered by AUSTEL in its 1994 report as inclusion of any others without some justification, eg that they were mentioned in the Senate’s 1999 report on COTs, would risk irresistible pressure to extend to numerous others who have had disputes with Telstra over the past 10 years. …

“I also suggested that there may be advantages in appointing ACMA as the independent assessor rather than a consultant to the Department. He has not opposed to this idea.”  (GS 421)

Senator Coonan Reneges on her Commitment given to Senator Barnaby Joyce 

Parliament House Canberra

Bullet 2 above confirms there was a process in place to meet Senator Helen Coonan’s commitment given to Senator Joyce for his vote to allow the government to privatise Telstra. So why did the minister’s department not honour that commitment once Senator Joyce cast his vote? This misleading and deceptive, unconscionable conduct caused Graham and Alan further trauma.

18 October 2005: An internal memo to Senator Helen Coonan states:

  • “Senator Joyce has written to you seeking urgent advice on your proposed approach to the conduct of independent assessments of various claims against Telstra by customers or former customers or contractors of Telstra.
  • “We propose you ask the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to conduct the assessments. …
  • There is significant risk for the Government if expectations in relation to compensation are created among claimants that cannot be met by the Government.” (GS 422)

Exhibit GS 423 is an unsigned government memo from Senator Coonan’s office, received by the Cot cases during their FOI requests to the minister’s office regarding this assessment process.

“According to Minister’s understanding, assessor to:

  • review the status of all outstanding claims and
  • provide a basis for any sustainable claims that have not been resolved through earlier processes to negotiate a possible settlement with Telstra

“Possible Loopholes

  • ‘sustainable claims not resolved through earlier processes’ – on the basis that information provided by the claimants raises no new issues, particularly regulatory issues that require addressing by the Minister or the ACA/ACMA.
  • If concerns relate to conduct of Telstra, then these should be raised with the Commonwealth Ombudsman?
  • If the CoTS have evidence of unlawful activities, these should be brought to the attention of the police or relevant law enforcement authorities.” (GS 423)

19 October 2005: David Lever, advisor to Senator Coonan, emails departmental personnel.

“As discussed with Andrew yesterday, the minister has signed and sent a letter to Barnaby Joyce that deals with the above and local presence plan issues. We have not seen it but I made comments on the draft sent yesterday afternoon by matt, seeking to retain the tight constraints on the scope of the assessment, which he had relaxed.”

Simon Bryant responds,

“I think Jodi be getting confused about what the assessment is meant to do (or at least what we are recommending) ie an assessment of process and what further resolution channels may be available to people. We are arguing strongly that the assessment should not be about the merits of each case.” (GS 424)

QUESTIONS

  1. Who was Simon Bryant, to argue strongly “that the assessment should not be about merits of each case”?
  2. How can an independent commercial assessment process be independent, if those administering the process seek to retain tight constraints on the scope of the assessment process?
  3. Why did the Federal Government give Senator Joyce its commitment, in exchange for his vote to allow the Telstra privatisation bill to be passed, and then, as soon as they secured his vote, renege on that commitment?

21 December 2005: David Lever emails TIO John Pinnock.

“Subject: independent assessment of claims against Telstra

“Some of the former ‘COTs’ are among the 22 who will be asked if they wish to participate in the process. …

“The assessment will focus on process rather than the merits of claims, including whether all available dispute resolution mechanism have been used.” (GS 425)

3 March 2006: In AS 320, I advised Mr Pinnock, that I was about to enter the minister’s independent assessment process and requires a number documents held by the TIO.

As of 2017, I still hasn’t seen the documents I requested.

On 3 March 2006, Senator Barnaby Joyce wrote to Ann Garms, COT chair, during the independent assessment process. He stated:

“I met with Senator Helen Coonan yesterday morning to discuss the matter of the agreed Independent Assessment of your claims. …

“From my understanding of the CoTs evidence, the Department and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman have not acted in the best interests of the CoTs. It could be said they have not investigated valid submissions concerning the misconduct of Telstra and the evidence the dispute resolution processes you have all been subjected to over the last decade were flawed. …

“At the meeting yesterday I argued your cases strongly and informed the Minister that justice delayed is justice denied.” (See Bad-Bureaucrats-File-No/20)

10 March 200: I wrote to Ms Liz Forman, the acting general manager of DCITA (see Open Letter File No/50-A to 50/C). In my letter, I noted:

“Although you have stated in your letter that ‘…the assessment process will not extend to an examination of whether the law was broken by Telstra…’ I have been advised that it is mandatory, under Commonwealth law, for DCITA and the Minister to notify the Attorney General of any unlawful activities they may uncover during official department investigations.” (See Open Letter File No 62)

The Hon David Hawker, Speaker in the House of Representatives assists me in the DCITA assessment process

The Hon David Hawker MP

10 March 2006: The Hon David Hawker writes to me.

“I wish to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 23 February and 27 February along with your facsimile transmissions of 6 and 9 March. I will ensure this material, including the corrected version, is forwarded to Minister Coonan…” (GS 442)

17 March 2006: Before I signed for the DCITA assessment process, I received a letter from David Lever at DCITA stating:

“Thank you for your letter of 10 March 2006 to Ms Forman concerning the independent assessment process” and adding: “If the material you provide to the Department as part of the independent assessment process indicates that Telstra or its employees have committed criminal offences in connection with your arbitration, we will refer the matter to the relevant authority”.

27 March 2006: The Hon David Hawker writes to me stating.

“A note to acknowledge receipt of your letters dated 24, 25, & 26 March pertaining to your request for an independent assessment. Thank you also for forwarding Darren Lewis’ letter of 25 March consenting to being interviewed under oath to support your claim that the phone and fax faults continued long after your arbitration.

“Please be assured representations have been made today to the Minister for Communications and I have supplied Senator Coonan with copies of all above-mentioned letters.” (GS 443)

COMMENTARY

Attached to my independent assessment claim was evidence supporting:

  • the BCI tests, allegedly conducted at the Cape Bridgewater RCM, could not have been performed at the times and dates as shown in the report;
  • that regardless of Telstra being advised by the regulator that their SVT tests carried out at my premises were deficient, they still provided the arbitrator sworn testaments to the contrary;
  • Telstra submitting fundamentally flawed laboratory findings (TF200) to the arbitrator;
  • interception and privacy issues;
  • the Ericsson CCS7 testing equipment could not operate at the same time as the Ericsson Neat Testing was underway on the same line, yet the arbitrator accepted they could; and
  • the Ericsson AXE 104 Portland telephone exchange suffered with problems and faults right through and after my arbitration.

Question:

Why didn’t I receive one piece of information surrounding the Ericsson equipment and how it was supposed to function?

24 May 2006: Senator Coonan responds to Hon David Hawker.

“Mr Smith has indicated that he would like the terms of reference for the assessment to be wider, requiring the Department to make judgements about the fairness of the arbitration process undertaken by Dr Gordon Hughes, under the administration of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, in 1994. While this is understandable, it is not reasonable to expect the Department or indeed any other person at this point in time to make judgements about the circumstances surrounding Mr Smith’s arbitration. The terms of reference for the assessment are therefore more forward looking, aimed at identifying whether any further dispute resolution processes may be available to be pursued by claimants and Telstra in order to resolve their disputes.” (GS 445-b)

This statement by Senator Helen Coonan: Does not coincide with the commitment given by Senator Coonan’s advisor David Lever, 17 March 2006, to me, prior to me signing the agreement that.

“If the material you have provided to the Department as part of the independent assessment process indicates that Telstra or its employees have committed criminal offences in connection with your arbitration, we will refer the matter to the relevant authority.” (AS 321)

Does not coincide with her commitment given to Senator Barnaby Joyce.

“As a result of my thorough review of the relevant Telstra sale legislation, I proposed a number of amendments which were delivered to Minister Coonan. In addition to my requests, I sought from the Minister closure of any compensatory commitments given by the Minister or Telstra and outstanding legal issues. …

“The Minister has advised she will appoint an independent assessor to review the status of outstanding claims and provide a basis for these to be resolved.

“I would like you to understand that I could only have achieved this positive outcome on your behalf if I voted for the Telstra privatisation legislation.” (GS 432)

The one crucial vote the government needed to pass the Telstra privatisation – Senator Barnaby Joyce’s vote – was given on the base of a commitment that Senator Coonan had no intention of honouring: that an independent assessor would be appointed to assess the merits of each COT case’s claims.

6 September 2006: I and a number of COT Cases, at the invitation of Senator Helen Coonan and Senator Barnaby Joyce, attend a meeting in Parliament House, Canberra, to discuss their unresolved Telstra issues.

16 November 2006: Senator Joyce writes to Senator Coonan.

“I must remain with my commitment to the people involved with the CoTs cases. The commitment is representing their frustration and finding a resolution to the issue.

“The resolution to the issue, is referenced in your letter of 13th September 2005, where you state ‘I agree that there should be finality for all outstanding ‘COT’ cases and related disputes. I believe that the most effective way to deal with these is for me to appoint an independent assessor to review the status of all outstanding claims.’” (GS 426-a)

The link between my original letter to Mr Pinnock, dated 3 March 2006 (GS 426-b), and (GS 426-a) is that my letter alerted Mr Pinnock to Senator Coonan’s independent assessment process and that I was seeking information from the TIO (under the Privacy Policy Act) for arbitration documents to help support my DCITA assessment process.

Had Mr Pinnock not misled and deceived Senator Coonan’s office, a more favourable response to the COT cases’ claims may have been forthcoming.

My original letter of 3 March 2006 (see above) states:

“You would be aware by now that the Hon Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, has agreed to appoint an independent assessor to review all the outstanding Telstra arbitration cases, including my claims. …

“In a subsequent letter dated 12th May 2004(also attached), Philip Carruthers, TIO Business Manger [sic], advised me that my letter of 26th April 2004 to all members of the TIO Board and Council ‘…will be passed on to them by hand at the Council meeting scheduled for 19 May 2004″.

My letter is very detailed about what he is requesting, including a copy of the section pertaining to the council discussion on my matters scheduled for 19 May 2004.

I have yet to receive a letter from Mr Pinnock, the TIO board or council regarding this matter.

However, the non-release of TIO documents to me, by the TIO board or council, may well be related to the same Ted Benjamin-TIO council conflict-of-interest issues discussed by Senator Schacht on 26 September 1997, (see Senate Hansard . It appears as though the TIO board and council and Telstra representatives had a closer relationship that was more than just a possible conflict of interest.

Question:

Why didn’t the TIO assist the COT cases in accessing the relevant exchange and technical information they needed to support their claims?

The problems with AXE and ARE Ericsson exchanges, and other types of Ericsson equipment, are referred to in different sections of this document. Throughout the COT arbitrations, the various claimants also reported serious problems in getting Telstra to supply relevant diary notes or fault data, relating to specific telephone exchanges, and they questioned Ericsson’s takeover of Lane Telecommunications, because the COT claimants were in arbitration because of faulty Ericsson equipment.

In my arbitration, David Read from Lanes Telecommunications prepared the draft technical report, NOT DMR Group Canada as claimed, and he assessed only 23 of the earliest of 200 faults included in my claim documents. The remaining and continuing unassessed 177 faults were mostly caused by the faulty Ericsson AXE exchange. Did Mr Read only assess 23 of my claims, and ignore the rest, because Ericsson’s takeover of Lanes was then looming?

The following quotes from a Hansard record dated 11 February 1999 show that even the Senate smelled a rat where Ericsson was concerned:

Senator Ron Boswell

Senator Boswell to Telstra’s Mr Levy:

Senator BOSWELL – “The COT members still require the network and Ericsson documents. They have not received one Ericsson document. You have written to Mr Wynack and said, ‘If you want the Ericsson documents, you go to Ericssons and get them.’ Why can you not provide the Ericsson documents and why have you written a letter to Mr Wynack and said for him to go to and approach Ericssons? …

Senator BOSWELL – “They should not be hard to find. When you go out and upgrade an exchange you must have some form of plan, and that would be the Ericsson documents Ericsson are doing the job for you.” (GS 427)

If an investigation by the Australian government (the Senate working party) wasn’t able to access relevant technical exchange data, including Ericsson documents from Telstra, then what hope did any of the COT claimants have?

GS 428-a confirms the NEAT (Network Evaluation and Test) equipment was used at the RCM at Cape Bridgewater between 28 October and 8 November 1993, particularly on 4, 5, 6, 8 and 9 of November, when Telstra allege Bell Canada International carried out their tests. The exhibit also proves Ericcson manufactured the NEAT equipment.

GS 429 is a copy of a letter dated 30 January 1995, from me to Dr Hughes (arbitrator) confirming my challenged the results of the ELMI, BCI and NEAT tests carried out between 28 October and 8 November 1993. This letter and other CAV information provided by me details how, during his arbitration, both AUSTEL and Alan complained about the deficiencies in the SVTs – to no avail. Then Brian Hodge MBE, a specialist in the field of technical testing processes (and an ex-Telstra engineer), reported on 27 July 2007 the BCI and SVTs carried out at Cape Bridgewater were fundamentally flawed, adding further weight to the allegations made by me and other COT Cases back in 1995.

Furthermore, during my arbitration, neither Dr Hughes, FHCA DMR nor Lanes even assessed (let alone valued or commented on) my claims that the SVTs had not located the ongoing problems and faults in the telephone network.

GS 429 also shows that, throughout the arbitration process, Telstra made statements concerning the network, which must have been based on technical documents, although Telstra claimed these documents did not exist.

The three main appointments the TIO made, to assist him as administrator of the COT arbitrations, i.e., DMR (Australia), Lane Telecommunications (Australia) and Dr Hughes, were all later fired by the TIO because of a possible conflict of interest. Even worse, the TIO never looked into why, during the COT arbitrations, these three parties allowed themselves to be put in a position of having a conflict of interest in the first place, since they had all signed agreements to proceed with the COT arbitrations, presumably to the end.

As previously discussed, Senator Schacht referred to Ted Benjamin’s conflicts of interest on 26 September 1997, regarding the COT arbitrations debacle. The TIO knew Telstra’s Mr Benjamin was present at TIO council meetings, where COT issues were discussed.

I am confident that, if the current government accessed their DCITA archives for the claim material I provided the 2006 DCITA assessment process, they will find copies of the May 1999 letters, originally provided to Ziggy Switkowski (Telstra’s CEO), David Hoare (Telstra’s chair) and the Hon Tony Staley (the TIO council chair), confirming Telstra knowingly submitted a false arbitration report to the arbitrator (see Bad Bureaucrats (draft) page) alleging a sticky beer substance was found inside my telephone after it was taken away for testing during my arbitration. I am also equally confident that the two reports available at Telstra Falsified BCI Report ‘masked identities and Telstra Falsified SVT Report ‘unmasked identities are also in the DCITA archives. All three of those reports, which I provided to the DCITA, confirm, beyond all doubt, that Telstra and/or its employees did commit criminal offences in relation to my arbitration, but the DCITA assessment found Telstra and its employees did not commit any of the offences that all three of those reports show they did.

The COT chronology of events (see Arbitrator Part One and Part Two and Senate pages) describe how, once the government secured Senator Joyce’s crucial privatisation vote, they reneged and refused to appoint anyone other than their own government-employed assessors, rather than the independent assessor that was promised to Senator Joyce. Senator Joyce was very disheartened that the coalition government let down the COT cases once again. In an attempt to salvage something Senator Joyce agreed to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) assessing the claims of any of the 14 COTs who were interested in being involved. The COTs and Senator Barnaby Joyce did not know at that time that the DCITA assessors used government-concocted archive documentation to assist with their validation of the COTs’ claims. That documentation (see Home Page Part-One File No/6) does not coincide with the many statements made by various senators involved in investigating the COT FOI issues (see above) nor AUSTEL’s own findings (see Front Page Part One). This means the DCITA process was fundamentally flawed, as the COT arbitrations and mediations were.

A comparison of the two letters available at shows two DCITA internal emails from Nikki Vajrabukka to David Lever. Both refer to my assessment claim and ask ex-DCITA staff member, David Quilty (who was then a Telstra government liaison officer), to assist DCITA in the preparation of their findings regarding my DCITA claims against Telstra, a situation akin to asking a thief who had been caught in a stolen car if they should be charged for that offence. Therefore it is not so amazing to learn, first, the eventual finding was that Telstra had no case to answer and, second, I lost my claim against Telstra not long after and David Quilty was promoted to a very senior executive position with the Telstra Corporation (see Open Letter File No 64-A to 64-B)

The Hon Senator Helen Coonan

Although I provided the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) with most, if not all, of the documents that are now available for downloading from various different sections of absentjustice.com, and although those documents all clearly show that Telstra and its employees did commit criminal offences in connection with my arbitration, the DCITA assessors never referred any of those matters to the relevant authorities.

Why didn’t the DCITA bureaucrats immediately contact the relevant authorities as soon as their internal investigation had clarified that Telstra had indeed acted outside of the law as exhibits Open Letter File Nos/3637 and File No/38 show? This clearly raised a most important question:  why didn’t DCITA advise the then current Australian government that Telstra and its employees have committed criminal offences in connection with your arbitration”

Why would government bureaucrats do such a thing to an Australian citizen they knew the Telstra Corporation threatened because he assisted the Australian Federal Police during their investigations into Telstra’s unauthorised interception of his telephone services? (See Prologue). Something had to be radically wrong. And it was, because, sometime after the end of my March to June 2006 DCITA-government evaluation of my arbitration claims, I received a copy of an email, dated 3 March 2006. This email was originally sent to a senior ex-DCITA bureaucrat, in his new role as government liaison officer for Telstra, for his advice on how to assess my 2006 claim (see Senate Evidence File No 18). Sending this email is akin to asking a criminal if they should be charged for crimes they have committed. For obvious reasons, I have masked this person’s identity.

On 3 December 1997, before this executive moved to the position of Telstra’s government liaison officer, the principal advisor to Mr Costello (then Federal Treasurer), provided the executive (as advisor to Senator Richard Alston, Minister for Communications) with damning evidence against Telstra. This evidence confirmed Telstra and its employees committed criminal offences against me in connection with my arbitration.

How could the 2006 DCITA independent-assessment process of my claims remain independent if the ex-government bureaucrat was evaluating my claims against his new employer (Telstra)? (See Senate Evidence File No 19) Not long after this executive helped the DCITA assessors with my claim, and the DCITA found in favour of Telstra (and against me), this same bureaucrat secured a very senior executive position within the Telstra Corporation.

AS discussed in our Introduction Part One page The Hon Senator Helen Coonan wrote to me on 17 May 2007, in regards to my complaints concerning the failed DCITA assessment process stating:

The Hon Senator Helen Coonan

“Telstra is not prepared to undertake an alternative means of pursuing this matter. I also appreciate the depth of feeling regarding the matter and suggest you consider whether court proceedings may be your ultimate option.” (See Senate Evidence File No 15)

Surely it was Senator Helen Coonan’s duty, as the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, to initiate an official enquiry into why Telstra intercepted my in-confidence arbitration-related faxes and used three separate falsified reports and false witness statements as arbitration defence documents during my 1994/95 governmentendorsed arbitration.

Our story is still actively being covered up. It is my moral duty to keep fighting to expose the systemic corruption – not just within the Australian arbitration system, where valid COT cases’ claims went unaddressed from 1994 to 1996 during a government-endorsed arbitration – but also when similar valid COT cases’ claim documents were not addressed, in 2006, during the DCITA process conducted by the government themselves. This is a true story: it happened to us, and it could well happen to you!

Frankly, what happened to the 16 COT cases is something that most Australians should find most disturbing.On 6 September 2006, in Parliament House, Canberra, Senator Barnaby Joyce advised a number of the COT cases, including me, that he would not give up until the government honoured their commitment to him to have our unresolved Telstra arbitration issues assessed independently.

The above part of our story, where Senator Barnaby Joyce ‘was done over’ by the Liberal Coalition National Party, the same party he became deputy prime minister of and then lost the position as he was not eligible to be an Australian minister, is currently being researched and edited. What has surfaced during our research, is, technically, when Senator Helen Coonan and the LNP government secured Senator Joyce’s crucial vote required for the Telstra privatisation legislation to succeed, the government knew it had no authority to broker such a deal with Senator Joyce. Not only did the LNP government renege on its deal with Senator Joyce (and not tell him a deal wasn’t possible until after he cast his crucial vote), but he was not a legitimate senator to have been able to cast that vote, to begin with.

This terrible error has left many COT cases the victims.

The fact that I was threatened by the Senate chair, on two separate occasions (in 2001 and 2004), with being held in contempt of the Senate (a possible two-year jail term) if I disclosed this Senate in-camera evidence) is sad.  Considering that, had I been allowed to use it, I would have had good grounds to appeal the Government’s decision to only compensate five of the twenty-one COT Cases for their failed arbitration process.

To be continued