PLEASE NOTE: absentjustice.com – brief summary part 1 was as created on 27 November 2018, and is a work in progress. Last edited April 2019
Continued from our INTRODUCTION Front-page
What we later found out, concerning the type of in-house emails these hackers wanted to share, appears to have been associated with correspondence between Telstra and its lawyers, Freehills (see SENATE Hansard, page 5169). The COT strategy is available at Prologue Evidence File 1-A to 1-C and shows how, even before the arbitrations began, Telstra and its lawyers colluded on how to conceal technical documents from the first four COT cases: Garms, Gillan, Schorer and me. Just imagine: What if Graham Schorer and I had not been afraid that this offer by the hackers was a setup by Telstra to trick us into accepting documents from an illegal source? If this had been a trick and we fell for this method of discovery, then the administrators would have expelled us from the arbitration process. On this occasion, however, being honest did not pay because had we received the various emails we now have on file, back then, including the information contained in Prologue Evidence File 1-A to 1-C, we could have used these documents to prove Telstra and its lawyers conspired to pervert the course of justice before we entered arbitration.
Many months after the hackers exposed what the forces at work in Telstra were unlawfully doing to us COT cases, the arbitration project manager John Rundell (who now operates an arbitration centre in Collins Street, Melbourne) also uncovered similar acts against us and mentioned this in his 18 April 1995 letter to TIO Warwick Smith – copied to Dr Hughes, arbitrator, and Peter Bartlett, arbitration special counsel. (See our Prologue page Chapter One) Sadly, the statement Mr Rundell made in this letter that: “It is unfortunate that there have been forces at work collectively beyond our reasonable control that have delayed us in undertaking our work,” (See Prologue Evidence File No 22-A) was never acted on nor provided to the COT claimants to assist us during our designated appeal period. In other words, except for Julian Assange and his hacker mates, everyone protected the defendants (Telstra) during our arbitrations, at a huge cost to us, the claimants. We also show in Chapter One of the Prologue page that this same arbitration unit, including the arbitrator Dr Hughes, knowingly minimised the financial liabilities of Telstra to the detriment of the COT claimants.
With so much evidence against Telstra, why didn’t Warwick Smith (as TIO and administrator of the arbitration) call the whole arbitration process a farce and ask the relevant government minister to intervene? This did not happen, not even after he was advised of the forces at work and what their unlawful conduct had achieved throughout the COT arbitrations. Even Dr Hughes’ letter to him, dated 12 May 1995 (see Open Letter File No 55-A), advising that the arbitration rules were grossly deficient, did not prompt him to disclose the truth.
Instead, a little more than two hours after receiving Dr Hughes’ 12 May 1995 letter, Warwick Smith put out a media release stating, “The Administrator noted that the arbitration process, under the direction of the independent Arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes, appointed with the agreement of the parties, had been run in accordance with principles of natural justice.” (See Open Letter File No 55-B)
What is actually being revealed here, on absentjustice.com, is that had the TIO Warwick Smith and other parties within government properly investigated the systemic phone problems and corrupt practices the hackers uncovered after breaking into Telstra’s Melbourne Lonsdale telephone complex, then not only would the COT cases have had a proper assessment of their legitimate complaints, but the whole of Australia would have benefitted by not having to accept – 24 years later – an NBN system that is well below par. Despite both the COT cases and the hackers advising that Telstra had major network problems, the TIO, government and arbitrator chose not to investigate.
As stated in our INTRODUCTION page this is the story of a group of ordinary Australian small-business-people who have been forced into a long-lasting, legal fight with one of the largest companies in all of Australia. It is the story of how the main Australian telecommunication company, Telstra (originally called Telecom), wasted years of their customers’ time, apparently unable to address the many phone problems that were affecting the capacity of the first four COT claimants to run their businesses. In fact, Telstra constantly told the COT group that they (Telecom/Telstra) had checked but there had been ‘No faults found’, even though we now know that Government records dated March 1994 (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings) found that Telecom/Telstra had actually uncovered numerous serious telecommunication faults that were directly wrecking those businesses. The truth about these faults was, however, deliberately concealed from the four claimants for more than thirteen years after their arbitrations had been finalized. The Government had agreed that, if the COTs were proved to be correct in their claims, then a Government-appointed arbitrator would not bring down an award for award damages against Telstra until Telstra had conducted a series of Service Verification Testing at each of those businesses which proved beyond all doubt that the phone problems had now been fixed. The reason for this government promise (in writing by the government communications) was that less than two years before the proposed government endorsed arbitrations the first four COT Cases (which included me), had previously settled with Telstra only to find within days of this compensation settlement compensation that the problems were still ongoing as the following government report shows.
Service Verification Testing
Point 5.25, 5.29 and 5.32 of the 13 April 1994 Government Communications Regulator COT Cases official public report (See AUSTEL Evidence File 1-A) states:
“…Mr Smith was the first of the original COT Cases to reach an initial ‘settlement with Telecom. It is understood that he: identified the type of faults which his business had experienced. Mr Smith has informed AUSTEL that his major concern and stipulated condition at the time of ‘settlement’ was that his service should operate, and continue to operate, at normal standards”.
“The fifth of the original COT Cases, Mr Schorer, had particular concerns about Telecom’s limited liability and the impact that the limitations was likely to have on any claim he might make for compensation arising from an inadequate telephone service.
“The fact that faults continued to impact upon the businesses in the period following the settlement shows a weakness in the procedures employed. That is a standard of service should have been established and signed off by each party. It is a necessary procedure of which all parties are now fully conscious and is dealt with elsewhere in this report. Its omission as far as the initial ‘settlement’ of the original COT Cases were concerned meant that there was continued dissatisfaction with the service provided without any steps being taken to rectify it. This inevitably led to a dissatisfaction with the initial ‘settlement’ and to further demands for compensation. To avoid this sort of problem in the future, AUSTEL is, in consultation with Telecom, developing –
- a standard of service against which telecom’s performance may be effectively measured;
- a relevant service quality verification test.
On 27 April 1994, Telstra’s Steve Black wrote to Robin Davey Chairman of AUSTEL (see AUSTEL Evidence File 1-B) noting:
“Attached for your information, an updated draft of the standard Verification Test for use in the Telecom’s Public Switched Telephone Network. Once agreement has been reached of these Verification Tests, Telecom will be in a position to commence the testing of the services associated with COT customers, and ensure they meet the agreed requirements for a satisfactory service.
In the case of at least six of the Service Verification Tests conducted at the COT cases businesses including the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp, NO supervised testing of those service lines were carried out by anyone other than the defendants Telstra. In my own case, regardless of my continually pleading with the TIO and arbitrator to investigate the ongoing telephone problems including the incorrect billing practices, which the TIO-appointed consultants admitted (see Chapter One /Prologue page) were never investigated during my arbitration.
As shown in the following link > Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report, Telstra fudged their Cape Bridgewater SVT tests and the government communication regulator AUSTEL assisted Telstra with this fraud, as Arbitrator/Part Two Chapter Eight and Open Letter File No/23 show. Not only did the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO: the administrator to the arbitrations) allow three senior Telstra executives, Chris Vonwiller, Jim Holmes and Ted Benjamin, to attend TIO board and council monthly meetings (where the progress of the COT arbitrations was discussed, without any COT case representation present), but ex-Telstra senior employees also infiltrated the government’s regulatory ranks so Telstra was now in control of the SVT testing. In short, Telstra manoeuvred employees into positions of power where they were even able to dictate to the government communications regulator AUSTEL (see exhibit 25-a – Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report) what information could be supplied to the COT cases, during their respective arbitrations, and which could be withheld. The government’s withholding of its true findings (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings) against Telstra was not the only evidence concealed from the COT cases and the arbitrator.
Anyone reading pages 2703 to 2716 in the following Senate Hansard > aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/displaychamberhansards1999-03-11 of 11 March 1999 must conclude that all of the 21 COT cases – not just the five litmus COT cases on the Senate Schedule A list –should have had their cases investigated in the same way as the five litmus cases (See An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens). It is not too late to bring justice to those remaining 16 cases.
Lies, and more lies
One of the Telstra technicians, whom I refer to below as Joker Three, and who was one of those who knowingly and deliberately misled and deceived the arbitrator during my arbitration, is a respected member of the Portland community in a position to often make decisions affecting Portland residents as well as the local council. This, I believe, puts me in a difficult situation: i.e., do I have a moral obligation to tell my Federal Member of Parliament about this man’s appalling past behaviour? Clearly, lying under oath in a formal litigation process, or at any other time for that matter, is not something that would meet the expected criteria for a person whose professional advice is often sought by others.
I have sat on this evidence for more than twenty years now, without publicly naming this Joker, or identifying any of the six other Telstra employees who also lied in their arbitration witness statements, even though, so far, none of those Australian citizens has come forward to explain why they lied as they did, during my arbitration. Having clear proof of these types of crimes have taken a serious toll on both my partner’s health and mine, and we deserve to have some peace of mind in the years that are left. For this reason, I am, again, informing my local Member of Parliament, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, this time on 14 January 2019, of these still unaddressed arbitration issues. I hope this will prompt him to remind the government that it was at the persistence of his predecessor, The Hon David Hawker MP, The Hon Richard Alston (the then Shadow Minister for Communications) and the government communications regulator that I ventured down the path that has to lead me to where I am today.
Between April 1988 and through to my arbitration of 1994 and 1995, I continued to experience faults with my phone service, particularly call drop-outs when, part-way through a conversation, the line would simply go dead, and short duration rings when the phone would ring once or twice and then stop, with no-one there if we picked up the receiver. In October of 1992, Joker Three arranged for two testing machines (called ‘Elmi’ machines) to be installed, one at the local Cape Bridgewater exchange and the other at my office.
In the afternoon of 13 October 1992, I reported four calls dropping out, at 1.20, 1.40, 2.00 and 3.00, and an occasion when I had answered the phone to find a dead line. Despite the Elmi machines, the Telstra technicians found, as they had in so many instances before, no faults that they could detect. What was going on?
In June 1993, I obtained a bundle of Telstra related documents from AUSTEL, one of those documents was a hand-written file note stating,
“We had the Elmi disconnected at the RCM [unmanned telephone exchange] and were installing it at Mr Smith’s house and the CCAS showed no evidence of above [not receiving ring] 1.20, 1.40, 2.00 and 3.00.” (See My Story Evidence File 1)
This was simply not the case at all; I knew Joker Three was not installing it at my house at this time; it was already installed. So I asked Telstra to supply their Elmi print-outs from September–October 1992. Some weeks later a number of documents arrived, including tapes which show that the call drop-outs and dead lines that I had experienced appeared on Telstra’s Elmi tapes (see My Story Evidence File 2) as answered calls at approximately 1.30 pm and 3 pm.
I could not fathom why a local technician would state that the Elmi equipment was disconnected at the exchange and were installing it at my house when these two print-outs show that it was actually installed and operating at both locations, albeit incorrectly.
If Joker Three says that the file note in My Story Evidence File 1 is not his handwriting and that he knows nothing in regards to the information provided on this document, then some other Joker at the Portland telephone exchange misinformed Telstra management concerning my legitimate complaints.
At point 5.8 in the arbitrators award under the heading “Faults Caused by Claimant” the arbitrator notes: “A simple example is said to involve the claimant [me] leaving the phone off the hook”. At point 21 in the False Witness Statement File No 13-A), prepared by Joker Three when discussing this Elmi equipment on 8 September 1993 (twelve months later) he: “concluded that Mr Smith’s telephone had been off the hook”.
I doubt that had the arbitrator been aware of Joker Three’s past history of lying about this Elmi machine whether he would have taken this witness statement into consideration when making his award.
A Telstra minute, dated 2 July 1992, concerning the Portland AXE telephone exchange states:
“Our local technicians believe that Mr Smith is correct in raising complaints about incoming callers to his number receiving a Recorded Voice Announcement saying that the number is disconnected.
“They believe that it is a problem that is occurring in increasing numbers as more and more customers are connected to AXE.” (See False Witness Statement File No 3-A)
This one Telstra minute, dated 2 July 1992, (on its own) shows what a liar Joker Three is.
The author of this AXE document, whom I have named Joker Two, like Joker Three also signed an arbitration witness statement, dated 12 December 1994, which told a completely different story to what he and Joker Three knew about the Portland AXE exchange. In his witness statement, he states, “I had perceived problems” but then says he had not observed any deficiencies in the service provided by Telstra. Yet it is clear from the AXE document that this is not the case. Folios C04007 and C04008, headed TELECOM SECRET states:
“Legal position – Mr Smith’s service problems were network related and spanned a period of 3-4 years. Hence Telecom’s position of legal liability was covered by a number of different acts and regulations. … In my opinion Alan Smith’s case was not a good one to test Section 8 for any previous immunities – given his evidence and claims. I do not believe it would be in Telecom’s interest to have this case go to court.
“Overall, Mr Smith’s telephone service had suffered from a poor grade of network performance over a period of several years; with some difficulty to detect exchange problems in the last 8 months.”
Why hasn’t the Australian government demanded answers from Telstra management as to why Joker Two and Joker Three, have not been made to account for their unlawful conduct?
It is clear from much of the information supplied by David Hawker, MP, to me in 1993 and 1994, that many people as far away as Penshurst, Apsley, Hamilton, Timboon, Victoria Valley and through to Portland were complaining to him about the phone problems in his electorate. The Hon Mr Hawker was passing on many of those complaints to me for the COT cases to take to Parliament House, Canberra, in our pursuit to have the Senate investigate why so many rural south-west citizens were experiencing the same problems as my business (see Introduction File No/11-E).
A letter dated 6 April 1993, from Cathy Lindsey, Coordinator of the Haddon & District Community House Ballarat (Victoria) to the Editor of Melbourne’s Herald-Sun, read:
“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald-Sun (2nd April 1993) about phone difficulties experienced by businesses.
I wish to confirm that I have had problems trying to contact Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp over the past 2 years.
I also experienced problems while trying to organise our family camp for September this year. On numerous occasions I have rung from both this business number 053 424 675 and also my home number and received no response – a dead line.
I rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported this incident to Telstra who got the same noise when testing.”
(Because of a number of reports regarding this ‘piercing noise’, Ray Morris from Telstra’s Country Division arranged to have my service switched to another system.” (See My Story Evidence File 10-B)
On the 12 July 1993, a newspaper article from the Portland Observer Newspaper is headed ‘Network Complaints Taken Up by MPs’, and notes:
“Problems highlighted by Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp operator Alan Smith, with the Telecom network have been picked up on by not only other disgruntled customers but Federal politicians. Having suffered a faulty telephone service for some five years, Mr Smith’s complaints had for some time fallen on deaf ears, but it now seems people are standing up and listening. Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, described the number of reports of faulty and inadequate telephone across Australia as alarming. Mr Hawker said that documents recently presented to him showed that the problems people had been experiencing Australia wide had been occurring repeatedly in the Portland region.” (See Cape Bridgewater Chronology of Events File No -17)
The pressure on all four of us COT cases was immense, with TV and newspaper interviews as well as our continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now but I continued to hammer for a change in rural telephone services. The Hon David Hawker MP, my local Federal member of parliament, had been corresponding with me since 26 July 1993.
“A number of people seem to be experiencing some or all of the problems which you have outlined to me. …
“I trust that your meeting tomorrow with Senators Alston and Boswell is a profitable one.” (See Arbitrator File No/76)
On 18 August 1993 The Hon David Hawker MP again wrote to me, noting:
“Further to your conversations with my electorate staff last week and today I am enclosing a copy of the correspondence I have received from Mr Harvey Parker, Group Managing Director of Commercial and Consumer division of Telecom.
“I wrote to him outlining the problems of a number of Telecom customers in the Western Districts, including the extensive problems you have been experiencing.” (See Arbitrator File No/77 and Arbitrator File No/82)
Comments made from the Herald Sun newspaper dated 30 August 1993, confirm just how damaging some of these newspaper articles were to my already ailing business with statements like:
“The Royal Children’s Hospital has told a holiday camp operators in Portland that it cannot send chronically ill children there because of Telecom’s poor phone service. The hospital has banned trips after fears that the children’s lives could be at risk in a medical emergency if the telephone service to the Portland camp continued to malfunction”.
The centre’s stand follows letters from schools, community groups, companies and individuals who have complained about the phone service at Portland’s Cape Bridgewater Holiday camp.”
Youths from the Royal Children’s Centre for Adolescent Health, who were suffering from “chronic illnesses”, visited the camp earlier this year.
Group leader Ms Louise Rolls said in a letter to the camp the faulty phones had endangered lives and the hospital would not return to the camp unless the phone service could be guaranteed”
Five years after this article was released, Helen Handbury (sister to Rupert Murdoch, who then owned and still owns the Herald Sun visited the holiday camp). Helen’s remarks about my story, after reading the first draft can be viewed by clicking on to the following Australian Federal Police Investigations-link and scrolling down to Chapter Four.
Regardless of the negative effective that some of these newspaper articles were having on the well-being of my business, particularly when they were combined with various damaging comments from customers, such as: “… the faulty phones had endangered lives and the hospital would not return to the camp unless the phone service could be guaranteed”, I kept focused on what COT was pushing for: a Senate Inquiry into Telstra’s unethical treatment of our small group of legitimate claimants.
A further letter of support for the Senate Inquiry from a worker at D. Madden & Co of Warrnambool (Lawyers), dated 10/11/93, gave added heart to my decision to fight on. (My name had been passed to Madden & Co by The Hon David Hawker, with regard to a public meeting COT was organising.)
“I am writing in reference to the proposed Senate Committee Investigation into Telstra.
As you are aware, I am employed as a telephonist with a large legal firm in Warrnambool. In the course of my employment, and particularly during the months of July and August this year, numerous service faults have been brought to my attention. These problems include:
- Calls being disconnected during conversation.
- Recorded messages informing Melbourne clients and callers that the number has been disconnected when the correct number was dialled.
- An engaged signal received by callers despite a number of lines being available.
- Complaints from callers that the line has rung out when no ringing tone has been received at the number dialled.
Our firm duly contacted Telstra on a number of occasions in an effort to have these fault rectified. However, Telstra technicians were constantly unable to identify the numerous problems and subsequently remedy our complaints.”
Rural subscribers wrote to TV stations and newspapers supporting my allegations that, with regard to telephone services, rural small-business people, as well as the general public, suffered a very bumpy playing field compared to our city cousins. David M. Thomson & Associates, Insurance Loss Adjusters in Ballarat, wrote to the producer of Channel 7’s ‘Real Life’, a current affairs program:
“I have watched with interest the shorts leading up to tonight’s program as I have similar problems to the man at Cape Bridgewater.
Our office is located in Ballarat and due to Telstra structure the majority of our local calls are STD-fee based.
On many occasions we have been unable to get through to numbers we have dialled, often receiving the message ‘This number is not connected’ or similar messages which we know to be untrue.
Clients report that they often receive the engaged signal when calling us and a review of the office reveals that at least one of our lines was free at the relevant time.
We have just received our latest Telstra bill which in total is up about 25–30% on the last bill. This is odd because our work load in the billing period was down by about 25% and we have one staff member less than the previous billing period.”
On 9 December 1993, The Hon David Hawker wrote to thank me for:
“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.” (See Arbitrator File No/82)
This was very affirming, as was another letter, dated 9 December 1993, from The Hon David Beddall, MP, Minister for Communications in the Labor Government, to Senator Michael Baume, senator for New South Wales, that says:
“Let me say that the Government is most concerned at allegations that Telecom has not been maintaining telecommunications service quality at appropriate levels. I accept that in a number of cases, including Mr Smith’s there has been great personal and financial distress This [sic] is of great concern to me and a full investigation of the facts is clearly warranted.” (See Arbitrator File No/82)
A Portland Telstra technician, whom I have named Joker Seven, experienced major problems during his official fax-testing process of my service on 29 October 1993, nevertheless he advised the arbitrator that there was no problem with that service, despite what the following Telstra document shows:
“During testing the Mitsubishi fax machine, some alarming patterns of behaviour were noted, these affecting both transmission and reception. Even on calls that were not tampered with the fax machine displayed signs of locking up and behaving in a manner not in accordance with the relevant CCITT Group 3 fax rules. … Even if the page was sent upside down the time and date and company name should have still appeared on the top of the page, it wasn’t. During a received call the machine failed to respond at the end of the page even though it had received the entire page (sample #3).” (See False Witness Statement No 7-A)
Didn’t this local Telstra technician understand that lying under oath in his witness statements assisted Telstra to conceal from the government and the arbitrator how bad the phone system really was in his hometown of Portland? Did he not understand that hindering my chances of getting a fair hearing in the arbitration also hurt his own family and friends, who were also residents of our region?
The cover-up continues
This internal Telstra document discusses the errors experienced at the Cape Bridgewater unmanned exchange, at least up to July 1991, and states:
“When the ‘A’ direction of system 2 was initially tested, approximately 11000 errors per hour were measured. In the ‘B’ direction, approximately 216 errors per hour were measured, 72 errors per hour is the specified number allowable.” (See Main Evidence File No 22)
False Witness Statement File No 13-B), dated July 1993, clearly shows Telstra continued to experience degraded errored seconds and minutes in the newly installed exchange at Cape Bridgewater. Worse, even though this new RCM exchange was installed in August 1991, Telstra did not realise it hadn’t connected the fault alarm system, from the main Portland manned exchange to this unmanned Cape Bridgewater exchange (18kms from Portland), until March 1993 (18 months later)! This March 1993 document reports the following:
|“Initial error counter readings, Portland to Cape Bridgewater direction”:|
|System 1||System 2||System 3|
“At this stage we had no idea over what period of time these errors had accumulated.
- the alarm system on all three RCM systems had not been programmed. This would have prevented any local alarms being extended back to Portland.”
This False Witness Statement File No 13-A), signed by Joker Three, is possibly the worst example of Telstra employees swearing under oath to something they knew was a lie. At point 9 in this document the author states:
“I checked the CRC error counters regularly between the date the RCM systems were installed and February 1994 when I left Telecom. Checking the CRC counters in this way was a normal maintenance practice. I can recall checking the CRC counters prior to March 1993. When I checked the CRC counters pre March 1993 I did not observe any errors that could have impacted upon the telephone service provided to Cape Bridgewater customers. A typical reading for each RCM system was 5 to 10 errored seconds, no degraded minutes and no severely errored seconds. I regularly checked the CRC counters for possible faults particularly when Mr Smith reported complaints.”
At point 27 in this same False Witness Statement File No 13-A, Joker Three officially advises the arbitrator “The standard of service provided to Mr Smith was entirely consistent to be a very good level of service provided to other rural customers.”
This point 27 statement does NOT match False Witness Statement File No 13-B or the many statements made by the government communications regulator in its own AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, of 3 March 1994. (See points 10, 17, 18, 23, 37, 39, 40, 42, 44,46,47, 53, 56, 61, 62, 70, 75, 76, 79, 86, 87, 89, 91, 92, 93, 98, 100, 101, 104, 105, 109, 110, 111, 112, 118, 115, 129, 130, 136, 144, 151, 153, 158, 170, 173, 186, 187, 188, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211 and 212.
In particular, at point 212, AUSTEL notes: “In view of the continuing nature of the fault reports and the level of testing undertaken by Telecom doubts are raised on the capability of the testing regime to locate the causes of faults being reported.” This statement suggests the government communications regulator believed my phone problems would not be located.
Had Telstra’s management conveyed to the arbitrator that AUSTEL had doubts “on the capability of the testing regime to locate the causes of faults being reported”, then the arbitrator’s award would have had to allow provisions for me to further claim against Telstra once the fault causes were located and fixed.
It is also clear from AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, at point 209, which states, “Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp has a history of service difficulties dating back to 1988. Although most of the documentation dates from 1991 it is apparent that the camp has had ongoing service difficulties for the past six years which has impacted on its business operations causing losses and erosion of customer base,” that the government’s own findings prove that Joker Three knowingly lied under oath.
Portland/Cape Bridgewater logbook
At Point 25 in his False Witness Statement File No 13-B Joker Three notes
“During the period that I was maintaining the Portland exchange my file containing details relating to Mr Smith’s service complaints was a similar size to my file for the other 7000 odd subscribers connected directly to the Portland exchange”.
Between February 1994 and April 1995, I tried, a number of times, to get my hands on the original version of the Portland/Cape Bridgewater log book, and so did the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, on my behalf; we were both unsuccessful. This logbook was particularly important because it would have included information recorded by ‘Joker Three’ in relation to all the faults I had registered with the exchange, as well as the faults registered by ‘the other 7,000-odd subscribers connected directly to the Portland exchange’. Neither the arbitrator (Dr Hughes) nor Telstra’s CEO (Frank Blount) would, however, agree to access this very important document (and/or documents). I also requested this information under the official, legal discovery process but didn’t even receive a response from the arbitrator. Even Telstra’s own Senior Protective Services Officer claimed in his witness statement that he could not locate this log book (see Main Evidence File No 30).
Portland Tourist Information Centre
It is important we conclude these falsehoods by combining AUSTEL’s letters to Telstra dated 6 January, 27 January and 4 October 1994 (see False Witness Statement Files 15-B to 15-F) because these show AUSTEL knew there were many problems affecting a number of other Portland and Cape Bridgewater Telstra customers.
AUSTEL’s 27 January 1994 letter to Telstra’s Steve Black (see File 15-C) states:
“You are probably aware of Mr Smith’s ongoing complaints as to the efficacy of his 008 service – he maintains that many callers receive a RVA advising that the number is no longer connected.”
“Further to that point is the experience of the Portland Tourist Information Centre which is now complaining of precisely the same problem. It is understood that these issues gained prominence after considerable incidences of problems from various points throughout Australia following a nation-wide promotion of south western Victoria. A copy of a fax from the Centre is attached. You may wish to consider this issue further.
Joker Three and Joker Seven have been prominent identities in Portland over the past twenty-years, advising interested parties on a number of issues. This suggests they have never really understood the damage their misleading and deceptive statements caused, not just to me but to others in the Portland region. Had the arbitrator full knowledge that my complaints of ongoing problems were real, and not a figment of my imagination, this may well have prompted him to have these complaints investigated by an impartial entity instead of Telstra, who were, after all, the defendants in my government-endorsed arbitration. NO testing of my service was undertaken by anyone other than Telstra during my arbitration.
Australian Federal Police
It is important to digress briefly here, and revisit Absentjustice/Brief Summary Part 1, which discusses the intervention of the Australian Federal Police into our matters, particularly in February 1994, and the information they uncovered in relation to Telstra’s unauthorised interception of the COT cases’ telephone conversations and in-confidence faxes (both to and from our legal advisors).
The following Scandrett & Associates Pty Ltd report (see Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13) discusses COT cases’ arbitration related faxes were intercepted during their arbitrations by a secondary fax machine, installed in Telstra’s network. Intercepting arbitration-related claim document during arbitration processes by the defendants to the arbitration is highly illegal. One of the two technical consultants attesting to the validity of the Scandrett & Associates Pty Ltd report, emailed me on 7 December 2014, stating:
“I still stand by my statutory declaration that I was able to identify that the incoming faxes provided to me for review had at some stage been received by a secondary fax machine and then retransmitted, this was done by identifying the dual time stamps on the faxes provided.” (see Front Page Part One File No/14)
It is clear from Front Page Part One File No/1, File No/2-A to 2-E, File No/3, File No/4 and Front Page Part One File No/5, that numerous documents faxed from my office to the arbitrators office did not reach their intended destination.
Why didn’t Warwick Smith (TIO) and Dr Hughes (arbitrator) allow me to resubmit the documents I could show did not reach the arbitrators office?
During the first COT four settlement/arbitration processes, AUSTEL, the then government communications regulator, wrote to Telstra on 10 February 1994 stating:
“Yesterday we were called upon by officers of the Australian Federal Police in relation to the taping of the telephone services of COT Cases.
“Given the investigation now being conducted by that agency and the responsibilities imposed on AUSTEL by section 47 of the Telecommunications Act 1991, the nine tapes previously supplied by Telecom to AUSTEL were made available for the attention of the Commissioner of Police.” (See Illegal Interception File No/3)
If AUSTEL was truly impartial, as a government communications regulatory should be, then it would have ensured the transcriptions of these unauthorised intercepted telephone conversations were provided to the victims – the COT cases. These “nine tapes previously supplied by Telecom to AUSTEL”, should have been supplied to the four COT cases so we could use these tapes as evidence to support that part of our arbitration claims. These tapes were concealed from the COT cases, just as AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings were also concealed from the COT Cases, during their arbitrations
Our phone and fax interception issues were now headline news over many months, not only in our local newspapers but in ALL the major national newspapers. Members of my singles club (which I started in order to expand my business) were now concerned that their private information given to me in confidence was no longer private. To add to this exposure, on 15 April 1994, ex-prime minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser discussed my phone interception issues in the Sun Herald newspaper and how FOI documents I received under FOI discuss his and my telephone conversations being transcribed in Telstra file notes. The Herald Sun newspaper reported:
“FORMER prime minister Malcolm Fraser yesterday demanded Telecom explain why his name appears in a restricted internal memo.
“Mr Fraser’s request follows the release of a damning government report this week which criticised Telecom for recording conversations without customer permission.
“Mr Fraser said Mr Alan Smith, of the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp near Portland, phoned him early last year seeking advice on a long-running dispute with Telecom which Mr Fraser could not help.” (See Australian Federal Police Investigations)
Who within the Telstra Corporation thought it was important to note that I telephoned Malcolm Fraser?
The arbitration process should have been put on hold until after the AFP concluded their findings as to why Telstra was monitoring the COT Cases business affairs. These intercepted claim documents were important to our claims and should have been released to us during our arbitration process, once the AFP had located those documents. How could the arbitrator request this interception evidence from the AFP while the AFP was investigating how Telstra obtained this information concerning our business affairs? It is now obvious that once we agreed to sign our settlement/arbitration agreements, while the AFP was still investigating that part of our claim, our basic rights, as Australian citizens, were lost. The arbitrator could hardly make a finding against Telstra on these interception issues (see Senate Hansard Evidence File No-1) when, despite the Federal police finding there was a prima facie case to institute proceedings against Telstra, the Director of Public Prosecutions, in terse advice, recommended against this. How can the Director of Public Prosecutions make a finding on behalf of the Federal government before the arbitrator has made his finding in a civil arbitration process on the same subject? This is why the COT four arbitrations was an unworkable process.
The COT cases reluctantly accepted their arbitrations would be conducted while the AFP was also investigating the same issues as the arbitrator. However, the proviso was that if the arbitrator found Telstra had used its position of power to intercept arbitration faxes or telephone conversations during the arbitrations or practised this unlawful conduct before the arbitrations and the claimant could prove either, then compensation would be awarded to the claimants. Despite the Director of Public Prosecutions’ terse recommendations against proceedings against Telstra, this should not have stopped the arbitrator from awarding damages to the claimants, because, after all, the Australian Federal Police had found there was a prima facie case against Telstra. So how could Telstra have argued with the arbitrator awarding damages?
Many within the Establishment said that it was actually unconstitutional to force the COT cases into an arbitration process with Telstra while the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were still investigating Telstra for alleged phone and fax hacking of the COT cases’ businesses and, furthermore, it was acknowledged that it was clearly an unworkable process. The COT Cases all at different times leading up to and during their arbitrations raised the AFP issues with Frank Blount, Telstra’s CEO.
On 3 March 1994, (before I went into arbitration) I received a telephone call from Telstra’s CEO Frank Blount in response to my previous phone call to him the day before concerning my ongoing telephone problems. Telstra internal email (see AXE Faulty Equipment 4-A), headed Subject: RE: COT Cases – call from Alan Smith dated 2 and 3 March 1994, between Mr Blount and Telstra’s Steve Black, show Mr Blount as stating:
“I also am not certain from my discussion to Alan that he expects anything else at this point. He simply states that he is still having major problems as late as the day he placed the call to me”.
“It may be time to have an auditor reporting to me review the Portland trouble procedures and data in and around Portland.”
What Frank Blount does not say is that on 25 February 1994 the then Shadow Minister of Communications Senator Richard Alston displayed his concerns in the Senate estimate committee hearing regarding the Portland AXE exchange and a document acknowledging I was right to raise my concerns two years previously concerning the lock-up problems with the Ericsson AXE exchange. (See AXE Faulty Equipment 4-B)
True to Mr Blount’s word, an audit review was commissioned and found congestion into Portland was appalling and the number of lines needed to be upgraded immediately. And it was, as Telstra’s internal email, also dated 3 March 1994, shows:
“Could you please arrange for the Z route between Warrnambool Node & Portland AXE-R to be incremented from 30 to 60 ccts [circuits]. … Could you please fast track this project due to the sensitivity of the current COT case at Cape Bridgewater (off PORX).” (See AXE Faulty Equipment 4-C to 4-K)
The advice the COT Cases were receiving in 1992 to 1994, was that congestion could be a major problem affecting their services, as Australia was installing or had installed ERICSSON AXE equipment (Portland was an Ericsson AXE), my lockup problems could be associated with the known ERICSSON AXE’s faults that cause lock-up problems.
And, indeed this was the case. AXE Faulty Equipment 4-D, dated 24 February 1994, is a Telstra internal email Folio A13980 that notes:
“You are quite correct in your thought that the anecdotal reference applies more to AXE than ARE-11 ‘Lockups’ are generally well-known as a problem in AXE exchanges, not only in Australia but in overseas countries as well.”
A further Telstra internal email, dated 22 June 1994, states:
“May 1993 – Rob Brooker of ericsson [sic] Australia advised that Telecom had a problem for a long time with an incapability problem with computer software in their exchanges and telephone equipment. The call loss resulted in a 50% loss.” (See AXE Faulty Equipment 4-E)
The documents at AXE Faulty Equipment 4-F to 4-J, and the advice I received from the UK was the same: that both Telstra technicians and Telstra executives would had to have known about the AXE exchanges problems when they allowed Telstra technicians to sign their false witness statements.
It is most important to link the Joker Two AXE Portland false-witness statement issue, discussed in Absentjustice – Brief Summary Part 1 page, with the introduction in Absentjustice – Brief Summary Part 2 because, when I raised the AXE Portland document that notes, “…it is a problem that is occurring in increasing numbers as more and more customers are connected to AXE” with Senator Richard Alston, early in January 1994, he was so concerned about this wording that he raised this document with the chair of AUSTEL Robin Davey in the Senate Estimates, on 25 February 1994, and demanded answers (see AXE Faulty Equipment 4-B)
The ongoing problems being experienced by the COT Cases whose businesses were connected to the AXE exchanges were NOT addressed during the arbitration process even though the assessor (come arbitrator) was supplied conclusive evidence between January 1994 to March 1995, that the AXE problems with in part responsible for the ongoing problems being experienced in Australia with that Ericsson equipment. the latest scandal
PLEASE NOTE: Although the Telstra interception and threatening issues have already been discussed in our INTRODUCTION page is was thought necessary to again include them below as further testament of the truth as we know it to be.
Transcripts dated 26 September 1994, taken during the AFP investigations (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1), show the AFP was very concerned at some of the documents I received from Telstra under FOI. These documents showed Telstra knew my private information: whom I talked to, who visited my business and even the names of female members of the singles club I had started at my venue. The AFP transcripts show concern that this surveillance was evident for longer than Telstra has since admitted. Telstra was able to document the dates I would be away from my business, weeks before the intended trips, and even documented when I telephoned my ex-wife, where my son resided – nothing appeared sacred. Further proof which was concealed from the AFP by Ian Row, Telstra’s Corporate Lawyer dated 29 October 1993, shows the faxes screened after they left my office was stored by Telstra for future viewing purposes.
When Telstra found out I had provided sensitive FOI documents to the AFP, that showed Telstra had documented the name of a bus company who I was tendering to bring business to Portland on a regular bases from as far back as September 1992 (see [pages 5 and 6] Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 transcripts), I was contacted and threatened: if I continued to supply the AFP with FOI documents, then Telstra would not supply me with any further documents I needed to support my arbitration claims.
These same aforementioned AFP transcripts dated 26 September 1994, also confirm the author of the previously discussed false witness statements, whom I have named Joker Three, was the Portland technician Telstra management directed to listen into my unauthorised telephone conversations (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1). Dr Gordon Hughes, in his position as arbitrator, declined to assist me with the interception issues and the threats I received from Telstra management (if I continued to assist the AFP investigations). Dr Hughes’ failure to assist me enticed Senator Ron Bowell to became involved, as the following Senate Hansard shows.
Page 180 ERC&A, from the official Australian Senate Hansard (dated 29 November 1994), reports Senator Ron Boswell asking Telstra’s legal directorate:
“Why did Telecom advise the Commonwealth Ombudsman that Telecom withheld FOI documents from Alan Smith because Alan Smith provided Telecom FOI documents to the Australian Federal Police during their investigation?”
After receiving a hollow response from Telstra, which the senator, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and I all knew was utterly false, the senator states:
“Why would Telecom withhold vital documents from the AFP? Also, why would Telecom penalise COT members for providing documents to the AFP which substantiate that Telecom had conducted unauthorised interceptions of COT members’ communications and subsequently dealt in the intercepted information by providing that information to Telecom’s external legal advisers and others?” (See Senate Evidence File No 31)
One of the two technical consultants, who investigated the possibility that legal arbitration fax documents were being systematically intercepted during the COT arbitrations, emailed me on 17 December 2014 and stated:
“I still stand by my statutory declaration that I was able to identify that the incoming faxes provided to me for review had at some stage been received by a secondary fax machine and then retransmitted, this was done by identifying the dual time stamps on the faxes provided.” (Front Page Part One File No/14)
In simple words, this one statement “I was able to identify that the incoming faxes provided to me for review had at some stage been received by a secondary fax machine and then retransmitted” confirms I had every reason to assist the Australian Federal Police during their investigations into these type of security issues during my arbitration.
NONE of the COT Cases were ever on a terrorist list in 1994 (or since, for that matter) and nor were any of us ever listed as suspects in relation to any crimes committed against any Australian citizens. This means that we must therefore ask: why were these innocent claimants’ in-confidence arbitration and Telstra-related documents hacked by Telstra while Telstra was defending the various COT cases arbitrations? In my own case, 42 separate sets of correspondence faxed to the Arbitrator’s office (some with attachments) are not listed on the Arbitration Schedules of Material received by the Arbitration process. It is clear from Front-Page Part One File No/1 that even though the Arbitrator’s secretary advised Tony Watson (part of Telstra’s Arbitration Defence Unit) that on 23 May 1994, six of my claim documents were never received at the Arbitrator’s fax machine. It is clear from my Telstra account I was charged for those six faxes as having left my office, yet no one from the Arbitrator’s office nor the TIO’s office when this matter was exposed, allowed me to amend my claim so that these proven “not received” claim documents were valued by the Arbitrator in support of my claim. It is also clear, from File No/2-A to 2-E, File No/3, File No/4 and Front-Page Part One File No/5, that numerous other claim documents, faxed from my office to the arbitrator’s office, did not reach their intended destination.
On 15 June 1994, Dr Gordon Hughes (while officially the arbitrator of my claim against Telstra) colluded with Telstra’s Paul Rumble by allowing him access to my claim documents, even though the arbitration agreement both Telstra and I signed stipulated Telstra could not see those documents until I completed ALL the submission of my claim. My claim was NOT officially completed until the second week of November 1994. In simple terms, when Dr Hughes, enabled Telstra access to this part of my claim (five months before it was fully completed), he breached the rules of the arbitration agreement he agreed he would uphold. This allowed Telstra five months of extra time to scrutinise part of my claim, instead of the agreed-upon one month. Therefore, Telstra was able to determine where the strengths of my claim were, what documents I had in my possession to support my claim and what documents to hide before Dr Hughes requested this information on my behalf under discovery. So, not only did Telstra have its threats to rely upon (which became reality), it had the fortune of having these five extra months in the arbitration process that I was not afforded. And worse of all, Telstra (the defendants) were able to highjack the claimant’s claim material even before the arbitrator had viewed it.
It is shown in Chapter Four Australian Federal Police Investigations Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13 that COT cases’ faxes were intercepted during their arbitrations. So, with that firmly in mind, first try to imagine the people assigned to intercept the many COT arbitration documents, as they left each of our individual premises, heading to the arbitrator, our financial advisors or our technical advisers. Try to imagine what it might have been like for those people, studiously chasing up and illegally intercepting our legal documents as they travelled around the fax circuit. Try to imagine doing this every single day because, particularly at the peak of our arbitrations, most of the COTs were constantly using the fax system to send documents all over the place! Then, change tack a bit, and try to imagine you are one of us, a member of the COT group, just an ordinary Australian citizen, running an ordinary Australian small business: an ordinary person who trusts the government to do the right thing by ALL Australian citizens. And, so, while you work at keeping your small business afloat, you also write up submissions, prepare legal documents (something you have never done before) and work hard to learn your way around complex technical documents, sometimes with an advisor at your side, but mostly alone.
Try to imagine what it would be like if, after all that effort, even before your documents reached their intended destinations, the defendant hijacks them as part of its reprehensible plot, so it could assess your documents, before they reach their intended destinations, because what this meant was that the defendant gained extra time along with the critical advantage of knowing, in advance, what was to come in the next part of the arbitration process. This was a huge advantage for the defendant because, of course, that knowledge also gave them time to decide which aspect of the claim would be easy to defend and which it would be best to completely avoid. Now try to imagine what that would have felt like for the claimants, when they eventually discovered what had been going on, in secret. At the same time, remember that, as we record elsewhere on absentjustice.com, some of those documents that we sent off, through what should have been a secure fax system, never arrived at their intended destination at all.
During the infamous UK phone-hacking scandal (see opposite), the Daily Mirror printed an apology in that newspaper, admitting that “such behaviour represented an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into people’s private lives”. Why hasn’t the Australian government compensated the COT Cases who clear proof that: an unwarranted and unacceptable intrusion into their private and business lives during their arbitrations ruined any chance they had of having a proper assessment of their arbitration claims i.e. an arbitration process originally endorsed by the government?
I know this seems too fanciful to be true but I am not Robert Ludlum or John Grisham spinning a story here, not even vaguely, because all this really did happen here in Australia, a supposedly democratic country, not all that long ago – in the years between 1994 and 2001, as Open Letter File No/12, to Open Letter File No/20 show. In fact, our evidence shows that this fax hacking started at the very beginning of 1994, during the first process, which was called the Fast Track Settlement Proposal. Now, as you read on, imagine you are sitting at your desk in your office, just like the COT members often did. You’ve been up most of the night, working on your claim, and both your privacy and the faxing system (which everyone used back then) are about to be violated, yet again, by the defendant, without your knowledge or consent, and the government you pay your taxes to is NOT willing to investigate or assist you, as your business vanishes before your eyes.
Continued on absentjustice.com brief summary part 2
The matters discussed on absentjustice.com are said in the public interest and therefore are made in accordance with the Victorian Defamation Act 2005 Defamation-division 1 Defamation and the general law see > www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web-Note.
Contact: email@example.com for advice regarding our claims:- thank you.