Please note: Chapter One is being revised: thank you.
Please note Chapter one is currently bring edited:- thank you
Rural Automatic Exchange (RAX) 1987 to August 1991
AUSTEL’s sanitized public report, provided to the communications minister The Hon Michael Lee MP, shows AUSTEL stated the telephone exchange at Cape Bridgewater, for the first three-and-a-half year period I commenced running my business, was a modern ARK exchange – designed more than 20 years after the RAX exchange had been installed at Cape Bridgewater.
The RAX exchange (which was unmanned) had only 8 final selectors shared between myself and the 130 residences of Cape Bridgewater. This false reporting by the Australian Communications Regulator and Telstra allowed Telstra’s witnesses (their local Portland technicians) to submit known false statements under oath concerning this service. service provided by Telstra.
One particular Telstra witness statement sworn under oath by a Portland technician dated 12 December 1994 who we shall name as ‘Joker One‘ (see False Witness Statement File No 14) states:
“The Cape Bridgewater RAX exchange was fully equipped to handle 90 subscribers. At the time it was replaced with the Portland to Cape Bridgewater RCM systems it had 66 subscribers and therefore was not operating to its full capacity. Mr Smith is the only customer at Cape Bridgewater with a consistent complaint history”
Whatever made this Telstra employee state the ‘RAX exchange was fully equipped to handle 90 subscribers’ when it is clear from government records Burying The Evidence File) that the Cape Bridgewater RAX exchange was very old technology designed in the 1950s [sic] for very low calling rate areas? for example (based on the unit having 8 Final Selectors) the maximum calls that could be handled at the same time irrespective of the number of services connected (of which were 66 in 1991).
If there were, say, four local to local calls in progress, then only four calls to local numbers could be handled from outside the area at the same time.
By 1991 the Cape Bridgewater RAX exchange serviced 66 homes.
Those 66 phone lines (subscribers) equated to at least two adults per house – 132 residents-plus children. If four residents were using their phone service at the same time then there were only four lines available for the remaining 128 residents plus their children. And, over holiday periods and long weekends, the Cape Bridgewater population grew exponentially. Mobile phones could not be successfully used in Cape Bridgewater at the time this false statement was made. In August 1991, this RAX was replaced with an unmanned switching system called an RCM.
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
In February 1994, Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose and Constable Melanie Cochrane of the AFP visited my business to discuss my concerns regarding the possibility my telephone conversations were intercepted and my faxes were not being received at the intended destination. During this visit, I spoke to Constable Cochrane regarding my concerns about the privacy issues connected to my singles club records, explaining I had provided the club members with a written assurance that I would not circulate their private information to anyone without first seeking their permission. For this reason, I was particularly concerned that it would not be fair to submit any of their private information into my Fast Track Settlement Proposal. Constable Cochrane commented that the TIO should contemplate suspending our settlement process until after the AFP finished their investigations into Telstra’s unauthorised interception of COT cases’ telephone conversations and in-confidence faxes.
The letter dated 2 March 1994, from Telstra’s Corporate Solicitor, Ian Row, to Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose (see Home Page Part-One File No/9-A to 9-C), makes it quite clear that Mr Penrose was profoundly misled and deceived about the faxing problems I was having to deal with, as discussed in this letter. Over the years, many people have compared the four exhibits numbered (File No/9-C) with the interception evidence revealed in Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13 and promptly concluded that, if Ian Row had not misled the AFP in relation to my faxing issues then the AFP may have been able to stop Telstra from intercepting the various relevant AFP arbitration documents in March 1994, before any damage had been done
This letter dated 14 April 1994, from Telstra’s Steve Black to Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose states that Telstra only voice-monitored my telephone service from June to August 1993. This corresponds to Steve Black’s statement in a letter to Warwick Smith, which is recorded below, are various pages from a transcript of an AFP interview with me on 29th September 1994, which records the police asking me about a hand-written reference to a bus company that Telstra appeared to have added in the top right corner of a letter I had written previously, on 10th September 1992, to Telstra, when that name was not mentioned in that letter. It is true that I was tendering to a number of bus companies during 1992, including Nuline Bus Services, Centre Road, Bentleigh, Mooney Valley Bus Lines, Money Valley, Warrnambool Bus Lines and O’Meara’s (the name that had been hand-written in the corner of this letter). I had contacted all four companies for the same tender in an attempt to use one of their services to bring people from Melbourne to Cape Bridgewater, but since O’Meara’s was not mentioned anywhere in the letter it had been added to, it would seem that Telstra was actually voice monitoring my phone calls or intercepting his faxes as early as September 1992.
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 which were two-fold i.e.; the calls were arriving at my premises but with in seconds were dropping out. This caused a billing fault for those calls that were to my 008/1800 free-call service I was offering to my clients. 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). What I found out later was Mr Blount knew there was a major short-duration 008/1800 problem that were causing incoming calls to a customers service to drop out before the business operator had time to pick up the phone. This problems not only lost a call for the customer operating the free-call service to its clients it stopped a further call from connecting until the service re opened the line.
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 within part responsible for the ongoing problems being experienced in Australia with that Ericsson equipment. the latest scandal.
However, the 008/1800 problem was so severe that AUSTEL (the government communications regulator) had in January 1994, asked me to provide them all 008/1800 billing data I received under FOI from Telstra during my Fast Track Settlement Proposal which suggested there was more to this 008/1900 problem than just my service to forward that information onto AUSTEL as I continued to do until 19 December 1995, when a representative from AUSTEL visited my business.
Chapter Nine in Arbitrator / Part Two to Chapter Ten Arbitrator / Part Three and Chapter Thirteen also in Arbitrator / Part Three to Chapter Fourteen shows these 008/1800 problems although clearly registered in my claim documents as a claim against Telstra were never investigated by the arbitrator during my arbitration. In simple terms, there was more to these problems than Telstra wanted exposed during my arbitration. I had to be stopped at all cost from proving my claims as the following Senate Hansard Front Page Part One File No/6 shows. On 20 September 1995 so concerned that these billing issues had not been addressed during my arbitration (see Chapter One absentjustice.com brief summary part 2 Senator The Hon Richard Alston in the company of The Hon David Hawker MP, my local Federal Member of Parliament asked me to provide his office a report concerning these still ongoing billing issues as well as to where I believed the arbitrator had not addressed them during my arbitration. I did continue to send Senators Alston’s office the documents he requested even when he became the Minister for Communications in the John Howard Government when the Liberal National Party won office. What happened to those documents I provides I am not sure. What I am sure of is someone in Senator Richard Alston’s office was not transparently and/or impartially investigating the material the Senator had asked me to supply that office.
The author of the 24 February 1994 Telstra internal email Folio A13980 has been quoted in Senate Estimates Hansard (records) dated 24 June 1997 as advising Telstra employees that the first five COT Cases (naming me as one of the five, see following link >Front Page Part One File No/6< ‘had to be stopped at all cost’ from proving our arbitration claims and furthermore, when ex-Telstra whistleblower Lindsay White was asked by Senator O’Chee: – “What, stop them reasonably or stop them at all cost – or what”? Mr White replied: “The words used to me in the early days were that we had to stop these people at all costs”?
Possibly the worst of the many long-term effects that we five have had to deal with is having to live with the knowledge that, even though the Senate Estimates Committee was told how unethically all of us FIVE COT Cases had been treated, even that powerful Committee could only help 5 of the 21 Cases (see An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens. In other words, Telstra controlled the whole COT arbitration and mediation processes and no-one was able or prepared to assist us 16 Australian citizens in demanding a retrial.
The following link > Manipulating the Regulator will allow you to view some of the highlighted points contained in the previously concealed Cape Bridgewater government communications regulator’s report. This report titled AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings. allows the reader to make up their own mind as to just how bad the Cape Bridgewater telephone network was over the period between 1987 and 2006.
It is clear from point 5 in AUSTEL’s 4 October, 1994 correspondence to Telstra (see Open letter File No/46-F), that the Portland Malaleuca Motel were having similar 008 short duration phone problems at the time I raised these issues with the government communications regulator.
Another unfortunate business operator who used to live in Cape Bridgewater wrote to me on 8 November 2002 stating:
“I am writing to you following viewing the Channel 9 Sunday Program on 3/11/02. After viewing the Sunday program, I realised the similarities you [sic] business and others with Telstra some ten years ago with the similarities our building business had, when we lived at Bridgewater”.
“Our phone problem had such a negative effect on our building business over a period of time that our work dried up and or business shut down. Our business had been running successfully for several years prior to the phone problem. I “”ended up having to find alternative employment on wages and now live and work in Adelaide with my family”.
I have raised this 8 November 2002, letter, which the reader can view by clicking onto the following link (COT – Sunday Program), as another example of how bad the phone system was in Cape Bridgewater during the 1980s and 1990s and beyond. Not all the three systems running off the Bridgewater RCM unmanned exchange were experiencing phone problems and that is why some Cape Bridgewater residents had a reasonable free run and others didn’t.
On the 28 January 2003, almost eight years after the arbitrator and Telstra had ignored my claim document showing the telephone and faxing faults were still affecting my business a letter from TIO officer Gillian McKenzie to Telstra states:
“Mr & Mrs Lewis claim in their correspondence attached:
“That they purchased the Cape Bridgewater Coastal Camp in December 2001, but since that time have experienced a number of issues in relation to their telephone service. Many of which remain unresolved.
“That a Telstra technician Tony Watson is currently assigned to his case, but appears unwilling to discuss the issues with Mr Lewis due to his contact with the previous camp owner, Mr Alan Smith.” (See Home-Page File No/76).
Was there a more sinister motive involved in Telstra’s technician refusing to help Darren Lewis with the ongoing phone/fax problems that, eight years before, Telstra and the arbitrator assigned to my case had failed to investigate transparently? Why was this Telstra technician still holding a grudge against me in 2002/03 because of something my 1994/95 arbitration should have addressed – i.e. the ongoing phone and facsimile problems that this same Telstra technician was now refusing to help Mr Lewis with, eight years later. Threats were nothing new to Telstra as the following statement made by Senator Ron Boswell in the Senate:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org for advice regarding our claims:- thank you.