PLEASE NOTE: Hacking – Julian Assange is a work in progress. Last edited March 2019.
As we have explained on our throughout absentjustice.com, we have broken this complex story up into sections in the hope of providing clarity. There are many people and organisations involved in this collusion and perversion of the course of justice, including government officials, the arbitrator, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and the defendants (Telstra). A number of different headings apply to many of the issues. To avoid repeating the beginning of the story on each webpage, the Hacking – Julian Assange section begins mid-1994 and reveals the details of how incompetently COT arbitrations were handled, beginning with the lead-up to the process in 1994 and from then on.
Because, not long into our arbitrations, Graham Schorer (the official COT spokesperson) received two phone calls within a couple of days, both from young people. They told Graham they knew we were in arbitration with Telstra and wanted to alert him to what they had discovered when they hacked into Telstra’s email network: they had found documents confirming that there were people close to our arbitration – as well as Telstra – who were acting unlawfully towards us. Both times they rang they asked if we would like them to send us that evidence.
Graham and I discussed the offer of the first call but, although we were interested in what Graham had heard, we finally said NO on the second call. We were concerned this might be a set-up by Telstra and therefore, if we agreed to accept this promising material, then both our arbitrations might be declared null and void – especially if we accepted Telstra documents that had been deliberately tampered with.
Since then Andrew Fowler and Suelette Dreyfus have each published books referring to Julian Assange’s hacking into Telstra’s Lonsdale Telephone Exchange in Melbourne, which both Graham’s business and mine were trunked through. In hindsight, we probably should have accepted that very kind offer. We might well have been able to use that evidence against Telstra all those years ago and perhaps we would not be here writing our story 20 years later.
Graham’s statutory declaration about these two 1994 phone calls is discussed below. However, some issues we discuss elsewhere on the website are also relevant to this page; issues such as fax and telephone hacking, submission of false material to arbitration and harassment. Australian Federal Police transcripts (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1) support my assertion that during my 1992 commercial settlement process with Telecom/Telstra and through to at least 1994 (during my government-endorsed arbitration procedure) the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp telephone services were live monitored and my business was under surveillance. This was further confirmed in 1999 (see Open Letter File Nos/12 and 13).
The Collusion begins
In a 10 February 1994 letter, John MacMahon, AUSTEL’s general manager of consumer affairs, acknowledges receipt of nine audio tapes from Telstra and states that these tapes, related to the “taping of the telephone services of COT Cases”, were passed on to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The Federal Court did not issue a warrant for this taping and no warrants were issued in either of the Australian states where the tapings took place. This taping was carried out illegally. And, it was carried out during a legal resolution process that involved the COT members.
Despite these investigations, the AFP did not officially provide findings of Telstra’s surveillance or monitoring activities to the victims of those crimes. Today, Telstra has still not been held accountable, not even for those illegal tapings that took place during my arbitration process with Telstra. If the AFP or the government had pursued these questions, I would not be still searching for answers today.
The AFP interviewed me about this matter on a number of occasions in 1994 and although they were unable to show me the documents and tapes AUSTEL had given them, it appeared they were taking my problems with Telstra and my arbitration seriously. In one interview, I showed them an FOI document that shows the writer knew where a caller usually rang from even though, on this occasion, the caller was phoning from a different number, “somewhere in Adelaide”. The police were concerned that a caller was identifiable even when calling from a different number. In their transcripts of this meeting, the AFP state, “you were live monitored for a period of time. So we’re quite satisfied that there are other references to it.” (See Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1). Even though I supplied these 26 September 1994 transcripts to the arbitrator, he made no finding with regard to it.
These transcripts also confirm that Telstra threatened me early in my arbitration process: If I continued to co-operate with the Australian Federal Police by providing them with documents in the manner I was Telstra would stop supplying me with the FOI documents necessary to support my arbitration claim.
In July 1994, I advised the arbitrator, in writing, that Telstra was refusing to supply any more FOI documents because I had given documents to the AFP to assist their investigations into Telstra’s unauthorised interception of my telephone conversations. This was when I began to suspect the arbitrator was not independent; he did not respond to any of my letters with regard to this serious breach of law.
My suspicions heightened when the arbitrator also passed no comment when Senator Boswell asked Telstra why they had threatened me this way (as recorded in the Senate Hansard Estimates committee report dated 29 November 1994). Why was I penalised for carrying out my civic duty by assisting the Australian Federal Police with their official investigations. Once it was clear that the (ungraded) arbitrator would not be asking any of these most pertinent questions, I knew for sure, months before the arbitrator handed down his award, that my arbitration was futile.
What is so appalling about the withholding of the FOI documents is that no one in the TIO office or government has ever investigated the disastrous impact on my overall submission to the arbitrator. Relevant information was withheld from me: information vital to support my claims before the arbitrator. The arbitrator and the government (who at the time fully owned Telstra) should have initiated an investigation into why an Australian citizen was heavily disadvantaged during a civil arbitration process merely for assisting the AFP in their investigations into Telstra’s illegal interception of that citizen’s telephone conversations.
During his 20 September 1995 speech in the Senate, Senator Ron Boswell, National Party, stated:
“The Federal Police also found there was a prima facie case to institute proceedings against Telecom but the DPP [Department of Public Prosecutions], in a terse advice, recommended against proceeding.” (See Senate Evidence File No 1)
Telstra had neither a legal authority to intercept our telephone conversations nor an intercept permit for our faxes. No judge in Australia would grant Telstra (as defendant) permission to intercept legal documents pertaining to the claimants or allow anyone to use Telstra’s network to screen faxed documents. And there was no illegal activity that might warrant clandestine tapping.
Prior to my signing the arbitration agreement, I advised the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (the administrator to the arbitrations) it would be impractical for the arbitrator to commence my arbitration until after the AFP concluded their findings. Graham Schorer and I, as part of our arbitration claims, were seeking compensation from Telstra regarding the breaches of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979. The TIO said he would tactfully carry out his own investigations, along with the arbitrator, and that his and the arbitrator’s investigations would not impede on the present AFP investigation.
There is not one single word in the arbitrator’s award concerning the evidence my claim advisor and I submitted showing Telstra intercepted my telephone conversations without my knowledge or consent.
I am not alone
On 3 June 1990, The Australian printed an article under the heading: Telecom ‘spying’ on its employees, which supports pages 1 to 6 of the AFP transcripts (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1). The newspaper article states:
“Democrat Senator Jean Jenkins told the Senate last week Telecom’s activities included bugging workers’ homes.” …
“She said the accusations were contained in a statement by a former member of Telecom’s Protective Services branch.
“Senator Jenkins said the man claimed:
- He and other Telecom employees and private investigators hired by Telecom did secret surveillance on hundreds of compensation recipients. …
- He had been directed by his superior to use whatever methods to get the desired results, even when it was obvious the claimant was genuinely injured.
- Claimants have had a ‘C.CASS run’ on their homes, which is a procedure where a computer can print out all numbers dialled on a home phone.” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/19)
The AFP were concerned that Telstra had written the names of various people and businesses I had called, on CCAS data records, which collated all incoming and outgoing calls to my business (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No 20). The hand-written notes in the right hand column of this CCAS data include against dates, the names of people that I telephoned and/or faxed e.g., 31 January 1994, GM (Golden Messenger), AUSTEL and the Ombudsman. In one instance, the name Faye Smith appears when I phoned my ex-wife. This reflects Senator Jenkins statements above regarding Telstra’s secret surveillance of their own employees in 1990, because here is Telstra using similar tactics in January 1994 while they were in a litigation process with me.
My AFP interview transcript on 26 September 1994 describes Telstra recording who I phoned or faxed, and when. The AFP believed Telstra monitored my calls because the people they recorded were associated with the COT issues. Pages 3-5 of the AFP transcript, together with other documents I provided to the AFP between February and November 1994, prove that Telstra had listened in on private conversations prior to and during my government-endorsed arbitration process.
Some history – October 1993
So chronic and serious were my telephone faults in early 1993, that Telstra threatened (the first of two series of threats) that I had to register my ongoing telephone/faxing problems with their outside lawyers or they would refuse to regard my complaints as genuine.
By July/August 1993, the communications regulator was becoming concerned at Telstra’s approach to our complaints; particularly their continual use of outside solicitors. In October 1993, while the regulator was negotiating with Telstra for a commercial settlement proposal to be put in place for the COT members, the regulator’s chairman made it clear to Telstra’s commercial division that the regulator would not be happy if Telstra’s solicitors were used in future COT matters. This request was ignored however and Telstra continued to insist that I register my complaints through their solicitors until 28 January 1994.
Later, when Telstra submitted their defence of my arbitration, I learned that Telstra’s solicitors also acted as Telstra’s defence counsel. By this time, I was able to provide the arbitrator with clear proof that Telstra had provided incorrect written statements to the regulator and me, with regard to incidents that occurred between January and August of 1993. The arbitrator would not investigate this information.
This document does not state Adelaide or a specific location, only Melbourne. I used to visit both Melbourne and South Australia on a regular basis during 1991 to 1993. Did Telstra even know where I stayed and who with? Let us not forget, I was not under suspicion of committing any crime let alone a serious one, nor was I suspected of being a terrorist. So why were the communications carrier and/or their government minders interested in my contacts and movements? When I showed File No 22 to Margaret (my office assistant) she advised me that she had not spoken to anyone about leaving the holiday camp (which was at 5.30pm just as described in this Telstra memo).A 12 August 1993 letter (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No 20) from Ms Rita Espinoza from a singles club to me, describes the constant engaged signal she experienced when trying to book a weekend during April and May 1993. A Telstra FOI document (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No 22) dated 17 June 1993, refers to the same Rita Espinoza and her friend Elise Stenoya. Not only does this document record the personal phone numbers of these two ladies, but it also confirms Telstra was fully aware of when my office assistant left the business while I was away.
Local Portland police files will have on record the date their Sergeant visited the holiday camp after I confronted an intruder. This was about the same time I was pushing the advertising for the singles club weekends, which was a great way for single people to meet and socialise. I noticed a small light in the distance in the early hours of one morning, just after 1am. At first, I thought perhaps the glove box in my ute had somehow dropped open and it was that light, which I could see. As I got closer to the light, I discovered a four-wheel-drive vehicle parked and a person standing under the overhanging branches of a couple of large cypress trees on my property. I picked up an axe from a nearby woodpile as I passed. The person got into the car before I reached the trees. I walked up to the car and yanked the car door open. With my axe in the other hand, I demanded that this person identify himself and his purpose. I was particularly intrigued as there were no guests staying at the camp that night. The man, startled and confused by an angry man waving an axe at him, stammered that he was a fishing inspector waiting to catch abalone poachers. This answer seemed quite plausible to me, so I let him drive away. However, I lodged a report with the Portland police later that morning, just in case there was more to this than seemed at first.
A few days after the police sergeant visited the camp to discuss the intruder issue, the same sergeant phoned me to arrange a second visit. He did not want to discuss his investigation into the fishing inspector story on the phone. The sergeant arrived within the hour and explained that he had checked with both the Victorian and South Australian wildlife authorities who were in charge of investigations into fishing and abalone-poaching matters. Neither of them had authorised an investigator to be on my land and if they had, they would have notified me first. Why had this man been standing under the cypress tree? If he wasn’t a fishing inspector waiting to catch abalone poachers, then what was he waiting to catch?
This information recalled memories of my time in the People’s Republic of China, my confrontation with the Red Guards and to the Sydney newspaper reporter in September 1967 warning me that I would be a “marked man” for insisting that Australia should not be selling wheat to the People’s Republic of China while Mao Zedong supported North Vietnam. Australian troops were fighting and dying in the war against the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong. Nothing made sense to me.
I couldn’t clear my mind of that episode or the feeling that there had to be a link between those two events: the secret eavesdropping on my personal affairs carried out by this government-owned telecommunications carrier and this still-unidentified man on my property. I arrived back in Australia from the People’s Republic of China (lucky to have escaped with my life) on 18 September 1967. At that time, I was interviewed by the Australian Commonwealth Police (now the AFP) and I gave them a copy of a letter I had written to the Hon Malcolm Fraser, who was then the Minister for the Army. I asked the police to be sure he received it. However, I have never had a response to that letter.
On 15 April 1994, 27 years later, the Herald Sun, an Australian 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 Senate Evidence File No/53)
Who within the Telstra Corporation thought it was important to note that I had telephoned Malcolm Fraser? Is my conversation with the former prime minister on one of the nine audio tapes AUSTEL provided to the Australian Federal Police, but refused to supply copies to the COT cases? I was, at no time, suspected of committing a crime or being a possible risk to Australia’s national security.
As the following segment shows, I even went as far as reporting in writing to both the Hon Malcolm Fraser and the then Commonwealth Police (now the Australian Federal Police) what was really happening to Australia’s wheat once it left Australia’s shores (see The People’s Republic of China segment below. I have always acted in a responsible way even when the other side even when the defendants in government endorsed arbitration (Telstra) acted outside of the law as our Hacking – Julian Assange segment shows the clearly did. So why was I and the other COT Cases subjected to this hacking into our telephone conversations and our faxes as they travelled through Telstra’s network
The People’s Republic of China
From early 1960 to late 1987, save for a few years as a manager/chef in various hotels and motels ashore, I spent 22 years as a seafarer. I learned much about the history of the English admiralty. As far back as the 1700s, seamen were the spies of the world: if had it not been for British merchant seamen advising the British Admiralty as to what the cargo ships were carrying, when they were leaving various French and Spanish ports, and their destinations, the history books as we know them today, would tell a different story. In both the first and second world wars of this past century, much valuable information was gathered from water-front spies worldwide, our seafarers.
In Melbourne (Australia) on 28 June 1967, I signed onto the MS Hopepeak, manned by British Merchant Seman as well as West Indian deck and engine crew, after being informed the ship was bound for Canada. It was only the following day after I had signed articles that I was told we were bound for Shanghai. There was just NO way I could leave the ship, having already jumped a previous English ship the Port Lyttelton in April 1963 in Melbourne. I then transferred to the Australian Merchant navy.
The crew were horrified that Australia was trading and selling wheat to the People’s Republic of China. At the time, Mao Zedong’s communist government supported the North Vietnamese communists. Australian, New Zealand and American troops were dying in the conflict with the North Vietnamese Viet Cong. Nothing made sense to crew, or me.
What the Hopepeak crew understood about cargoes being delivered around Asia in 1967 and their assessment of the import of such, as it turned out, was a better, more analytical understanding of the situation, compared to the public servants advising the then-Australian Liberal Government that it was ok to trade with Mao Tse-tung on humanitarian grounds.
Seamen visiting Communist China were not permitted outside the harbour compound because of the unrest in that part of the world, so we became quite a tight-knit group; playing ping-pong, cards and talking with other seaman. It was from this sort of contact with other seafarers that I learned that ships just a few berths away from ours had previously unloaded grain in Vietnam. While there was no mention of what part of Vietnam they had been to, Communist China would certainly not be taking grain to South Vietnam because China supported the North. Seafarers were, once again, acquiring knowledge about the world, just as history shows us that information is acquired and passed down from one generation to another.
Did the public servants advise the government that Mao was suppling Albania, North Korea and North Vietnam with free grain, prior to the loading of the MS Hopepeak? Were these public servants aware, like some later public servants from 2005 to 2007 who received middlemen kickbacks worth millions during the Saddam Hussein Australian Wheat Board (AWB) grain scandal? Although AWB, and by extension the Australian Government, was not the only entity to be implicated in the oil-for-food scandal, this unthinkable act earned notoriety in Australian political consciousness.
Who were the faceless public servants in the 1960s telling the Australian Government it was ok to trade with Mao and his band of Red Guards? Those same Red Guards readily beat their fellow so-called ‘comrades’ – the very peasants unloading the wheat – with grappling hooks. My letter to the Hon Malcolm Fraser also explained what I had also been forced to say under duress against the USA while under house arrest. Was I now being penalized by speaking out against Australia’s bureaucrats wrongly informing the government it was ok to trade with Mao Zedong and his Peoples Republic of China, I wondered!
If the question is: “Should a citizen be responsible for exposing wrongdoings that were committed by public officials, more than fifty years ago?”, then surely the answer must be “Yes”, particularly if that wrongdoing affected the lives of other citizens involved in the Vietnam conflict.
I notified the Commonwealth Police on 18 September 1967 (and later The Hon Malcolm Fraser in my 18 September 1997 letter) that it was highly likely that some of the wheat the Hopepeak delivered to the People’s Republic of China was also bound for North Vietnam. Why was the 1967 Hopepeak crew, including me, sacked and a new crew signed on to the Hopepeak and, once again (I am led to believe), sent back to China with another 13,000 tons of Australian wheat?
It is clear from this historical Vietnam War episode and the COT cases exposing just how bad the corroded Telstra copper-wire network was (when the government ignored that advice) that government bureaucrats appear to have their own agenda when making government decisions (even when shown the decision being made might not be the best way forward).
Screening faxed documents via fax-stream
29 October 1993: Graham Schorer of Golden Messenger Courier Service and I were still having problems sending faxes between our respective offices. This Telstra internal FOI document K01489, confirms that while Telstra were testing my Mitsubishi fax machine (using the office of Golden Messenger as the testing base – see this exhibit is still to be located) which notes:
‘During testing the Mitsubishi fax machine some alarming patterns of behaviour was noted”. This document further goes on to state: “…Even on calls that were tampered with the fax machine displayed signs of locking up and behaving in a manner not in accordance with the relevant CCITT Group 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) The Mitsubishi fax machine remained in the locked up state for a further 2 minutes after the call had terminated, eventually advancing the page out of the machine.
January 1994: A Telstra arbitration liaison officer faxed this document to the TIO in relation to the appointment of an assessor for the Fast Track Settlement Proposal. The words across the top of this document, in the space that should record the sender’s business identification are absent, and it records only the wording “Fax from” then followed by the fax number. The Scandrett & Associates Pty Ltd report discusses this “Fax from” issue (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13). The fact that a secondary fax machine installed in Telstra’s network during the arbitration process intercepted this document (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No 26) is another reason why this illegal interception of legal in-confidence documents should have been investigated during our arbitrations, when these illegal acts were first discovered. Who were the faceless people who were soon termed the “forces at work”?
Accountant Selwyn Cohen sent me a fax on 21 January 1994 stating:
“I refer to your facsimile of 10.42am on 17th January 1994. The fax cover sheet refers to 7 pages being sent. Unfortunately, I only received 2 pages. Please forward the remaining 5 pages to enable me to begin the required work.” (See AFP Evidence File No 2-A to 2-C)
During my Fast Track Settlement Proposal, I received a reply from Telstra’s solicitors on 28 January 1994 in response to my letter challenging Telstra for incorrectly charging me for non-connected short duration calls. Telstra’s solicitors state, “Customers will be charged only for calls which are answered … unanswered calls are not charged.”
Stedman Cameron, Lawyers & Solicitors wrote to me on 2 February 1994, stating:
“We note that you did not receive two pages at all and only the number 2 from the third page and the signature from the last page of the facsimile sent to you at approximately 2.23pm on the 1st February, 1994. It was successfully sent approximately two hours later.” (See AFP Evidence File No 2-A to 2-C)
Telstra’s FOI document (M34363) dated 4 February 1994 was not made available to the arbitrator or me during my arbitration, even though Telstra’s FOI numbering system (M followed by a number) clearly indicates to Telstra and the TIO’s office that I was still reporting problems with my fax transmissions during my FTSP process (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/24).
On 8 February 1994, The Hon Michael Lee, Minister for Communications, writes to the Hon Duncan Kerr, Minister for Justice:
“I am writing to inform you that members of the group known as the Casualties of Telecom (COT) have contacted my Office regarding the Australian Federal Police enquiries into voice monitoring by Telstra of their telephones. Both Mr Graham Schorer and Mr Alan Smith of COT have informed my Office that they have information on Telstra’s activities in relation to these matters.” (Held in government archives)
AUSTEL writes 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.” (SeeDestruction of Evidence / Perverting The Course of Justice/Illegal Interception File No/3)
From 10-15 February 1994, we lost any chance we may have had for a Senate inquiry into, what the COT members believed, the unethical way Telstra continued to treat us. By mid-February 1994, it appeared that not only was Telstra treating us with sheer contempt, but also they were doing this in full view of the Senate. The COT members began to believe that no single person or organisation, anywhere in Australia, had the courage to initiate a judicial inquiry into the way Telstra continued to thumb their noses at the government.
Imagine having to write to Telstra’s solicitors, to lodge my phone complaints! Was this Telstra’s way of breaking my morale? Consider having to report every telephone fault, in writing, to a solicitor.
As discussed in Arbitrator Part One, the TIO wanted to use a legal arbitration agreement, which he informed the government and claimants his own legal counsel (who was also the then president of the Institute of Arbitrators) drafted, completely independent of Telstra. He maintained that the commercial assessor was fully qualified to arbitrate on the four COT cases, which, as Arbitrator Part Two shows, he was not. Our assessor was to become our arbitrator.
We COT members registered our disagreement with this through the TIO (the appointed independent administrator of the Fast Track Settlement Process). We made it very clear to the TIO that the four of us were already involved in a signed and agreed commercial process and we saw no clear reason for changing that situation. We believed an arbitration process would certainly never be ‘fast-tracked’. It was bound to become legalistic and drawn out and we knew none of us had the finances to go up against Telstra’s high-powered legal team in such a process. We believed the whole idea of arbitration was raised simply to suit Telstra’s agenda.
Between 6-8 February that year, Graham Schorer had a telephone conversation with the TIO. Graham wanted to discuss the reasons the COT four were rejecting the arbitration process. The TIO dismissed our reasons immediately. The TIO said his primary role was Telecommunications Ombudsman and that he had spent too much time focusing on his secondary role as administrator of our FTSP. He was concerned his office had incurred considerable expense because of this administrating role and he told Graham that Telstra was refusing to reimburse those expenses. He also indicated that his office would not continue to incur expenses on our behalf.
Furthermore, he informed Graham that if the COT four did not abandon their commercial agreement with Telstra, then Telstra would pull out all stops to force us into a position where we would have to take them to court to resolve our commercial losses. Telstra, the new arbitrator and the TIO were all aware that none of us had the financial resources to enter into a court case.
My then-accountant Selwyn Cohen informed me that faxes from my office were not arriving complete; pages were missing. He recommended I should neither move from the commercial process into arbitration while these phone problems were ongoing nor sign the agreement while the AFP were investigating this unlawful interception of my telephon e and faxing problems.
I met with the TIO in March 1994 after this consultation with Selwyn and said it was an unworkable process while the phone problems were still there and while I was raising interception as a claim issue.
The arbitration process should have been put on hold until it was shown the faults had stopped and the AFP had concluded their findings. It was impossible for the arbitrator to call for interception documents at the same time the AFP was asking for the same.
The TIO’s response was that we must sign the arbitration. As if this wasn’t disastrous enough, the TIO added that if we decided to take legal action in an attempt to compel Telstra to honour their original commercial assessment agreement, then he would resign as administrator of the procedure. This would force the conclusion of the Fast Track Settlement Process and commit us to each taking legal action, with no other alternatives, to resolve our claims. The TIO did not care about the claimants rights.
On 15 February 1994, Senator Richard Alston (Shadow Minister for Communications) raised a number of questions on notice for Telstra to answer. The questions most pertinent to the COT claimants are numbers 5, 9, 10, 11(a), 15 and 20:
- Could you guarantee that no parliamentarians, who have had dealings with COT members, have had their phone conversations bugged or taped by Telecom?
- Who authorised the taping of COT members’ phone conversations and how many and which Telecom employees were involved in either the voice recordings, transcribing the recording or analysing the tapes?
- On what basis is Telecom denying copies of tapes to those customers which it has admitted to taping?
- How many customers has Telecom recorded as having had their phone conversations taped without knowledge or consent since 1990?
- Why did Telecom breach its own privacy guide-lines and how will it ensure that the revised guide-lines currently being devised by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman will not be open to similar breaches or abuses?
- How many customers who have alleged that Telecom has tapped or bugged their phones without the consent or knowledge are the Australian Federal Police currently investigation? (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No 25)
Telstra’s answers to most of the interception questions state:
“These matters are currently being investigated by the AFP and AUSTEL, and by Telecom itself.
“It would be inappropriate for Telecom to make any further comments at this stage about possible breaches of the Telecommunications (Interception) Act while the matter is before the Federal Police. However, the Minister will be making a full statement in the near future on action taken to date to remedy apparent procedural problems within Telecom.”
These statements made by Telstra, that it is inappropriate for Telstra to comment on these phone interception issues whilst the AFP are still investigating these matters, is the expected comment that Telstra lawyers would ensure Telstra made under the circumstances. No other form of interception investigation by any other authority should take place whilst the AFP was still investigating these privacy issues. To do so would undermine the AFP in that process. Yet, the TIO and those of its officers who were seconded from Telstra appeared to be doing just that, in order to confuse those who were not aware of their skullduggery. In fact, during their ‘investigations’ they were actually covering up the illegal operations that the Telstra Corporation had undertaken to pervert the course of justice (during a government-endorsed arbitration) against fellow Australian citizens.
As mentioned previously, prior to signing my arbitration, I also similarly cautioned the TIO that it would be unworkable for the arbitrator to commence my arbitration until the AFP had concluded their findings. The TIO replied he would “tactfully carry out his own investigations along with the Arbitrator” and “would not impede on the present AFP investigation”.
I have never received a copy of his or the arbitrator’s “tactfully” conducted investigation.
My 3 February 1994 letter to Michael Lee, Minister for Communications (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/27A) and a subsequent letter from Fay Holthuyzen, assistant to the minister (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/27-B) to Telstra’s corporate secretary, show I was concerned that my faxes were being illegally intercepted.
An internal government memo, dated 25 February 1994, confirms that the minister advised me that the AFP would investigate my allegations of illegal phone/fax interception. (See Hacking-Julian Asange File No/28)
In February 1994 I received written directions from AUSTEL, then the Government Communications Regulator, along with a supporting letter from the office of the Hon Michael Lee, Minister for Communications. Minister Lees letter noted that the Australian Federal Police were now officially investigating evidence that the government had received, which suggested that Telstra had (without my knowledge) been intercepting my telephone conversations. Mr Lee’s letter went on to say that, in order to assist the AFP with those investigation, I should supply the AFP with any relevant information I might receive, under FOI, which showed that Telstra had indeed been intercepting my telephone conversations. At about the same time I received a visit, at my businesses at Cape Bridgewater, from Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose of the AFP, who also made it clear that, since it was an official government investigation conducted under the direction of Minister Lee’s office, and even though it would be conducted during my settlement/arbitration process, I should still assist the AFP as Minister Lee had explained, by supplying the AFP with any relevant information I might receive during that process, if it suggested that Telstra had inside knowledge concerning my business that could have only been obtained from phone or fax hacking.
Even though I wrote to Telstra’s Paul Rumble in July 1994, advising him that I would no longer provide any more FOI documents to the AFP, a second discussion with the AFP led me to believe that I actually had very little option other than to continue to assist the AFP with their investigations.
On 3 March 1994, a Portland Observer article states:
“FEDERAL Police officers are investigating allegations of possible illegal activity on the part of Telecom Australia.
“Officers from the Federal Police visited Portland last week and interviewed Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp proprietor, Alan Smith, who is one of the four original members of COT (Casualties of Telecom).” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/29)
Telstra’s arbitration liaison officer wrote to Robin Davey, chairman of AUSTEL, on 18 March 1994. Under the heading Tape Recorders – Use In Locating Fax Faults he states:
“In a small number of cases, where the customer indicates that the problem is specific to transmission between two particular facsimile machines then, with the consent of the customers controlling those facsimile machines, the test transmission between these facsimiles machines will be taped and analysed. …
“In these cases, recording would be carried out in circumstances where:
- the customer’s consent has been confirmed in writing by facsimile or otherwise;
- the recording would be of signals generated by a test message;
- there is no B party involved.” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/30)
Neither prior nor during my arbitrations – and not even in the seven years after my arbitration – was I ever informed that Telstra was intercepting my faxes as part of their testing process. I was not warned of any other reason for that matter and I never provided Telstra with written permission for this interception to occur, even though this letter to Mr Davey is quite clear, Telstra had to obtain written customer consent prior to using tape recorders when intercepting faxes.
He insists I informed him about this conversation, but this is a falsehood. Again, Telstra have never been able to give a convincing explanation for their employee having this information. And of course, this employee knew who callers were even when they phoned from a different location, as discussed earlier. This information had to come from illegal monitoring. Obviously, Telstra were still actively monitoring my private calls because I was involved in litigation with them and their lawyers.
Listening to private conversations is appalling enough, but the following information is even more damning.
Page A133 of the official Senate Hansard dated 25 February 1994 states that the then-Shadow Minister for Communications questioned the regulator’s chairman, asking:
“Why did not Austel immediately refer COT’s allegations of voice recording to the federal police instead of waiting for the minister to refer the matter to the Attorney-General and then on to the federal police?” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/45)
Defacing Requested Documents
Although this segment is addressed on our Arbitrator Part One page it is again raised here because of its direct link to Telstra’s unethical conduct towards the COT cases.
A 14 April 1994 letter from Telstra’s arbitration liaison officer to a detective superintendent states that Telstra only voice-monitored my telephone service from June to August 1993.
Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 is the transcript of my interview with the AFP on 26 September 1994, which records the police asking me about a hand-written reference to a bus company that Telstra appear to have added in the top right corner of a letter. I wrote this letter on 10 September 1992, to Telstra, and that name was not mentioned in the letter (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/33). At the time, I was tendering to a number of bus companies, including Nuline Bus Services, Centre Road, Bentleigh; Mooney Valley Bus Lines, Mooney Valley; Warrnambool Bus Lines and O’Meara’s (the name that had been handwritten 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. O’Meara’s was not mentioned anywhere in the letter; the name was added. It appears Telstra was actually voice monitoring my phone conversations or intercepting my faxes as early as September 1992
This fax from AUSTEL to me dated 22 April 1994 – the day after I signed the arbitration agreement – explains that AUSTEL received three blank faxed pages (from my fax line 55 267 230) and determined they had come from my office by checking their fax journal (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/34-A and 34-B). On this occasion, all three pages had a very small outline of a square at the top left side of each page. AUSTEL’s fax journal shows transmission times for these blank pages of 01.40, 02.13 and 2.22 minutes. My fax account (File 34-B ) includes charges for these pages, even though there was no identification on the pages that AUSTEL received, to show where they had come from. (I have drawn three arrows pointing to my fax number on this account.) It is important to discuss this blank-page episode at the beginning of my arbitration, because I was continuing to report the ongoing problems I was having with faxes to the arbitrator. And, in addition, my suspicions that faxes I had sent to the Arbitrator, never arrived.
A Telstra email, dated Thursday 7 April 1994, raises concerns, with information indicating the defendants in the litigation process were able to document when claimants would be away from their premises. This following document refers to a time when I would be away from my business during this pending arbitration process. The author of the email states:
“Mr Alan Smith is abscent [sic] from his premmisses [sic] from 5/8/94 – 8/8/94. On other occassions [sic] when he has been abscent [sic] there have been documented complaints received [usually months later] involving NRR etc. I called the premmises [sic] at aprox [sic] 4:55 pm 6/4/94 the answer time was 41 secs.
“I intend on this occasion to document his abscence [sic] and file al [sic] data I can collect for the period. That way we should be prepared for anything that follows.” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/3)
The writer knew, in April of 1994, that I planned to be away later that year, in August. He knew of my movements, four months in advance. Telstra have never explained how they came by this information. At other times, this same person has also stated that he knew I spoke to former Australian prime minister Malcolm Fraser on the phone and when that conversation took place. (AS 1022)
He insists I informed him about this conversation, but this is a falsehood. Again, Telstra have never been able to give a convincing explanation for their employee having this information. And of course, this employee knew who callers were even when they phoned from a different location, as discussed earlier. This information had to come from illegal monitoring. Obviously, Telstra were still actively monitoring my private calls because I was involved in litigation with them and their lawyers.
Listening to private conversations is appalling enough, but the following information is even more damning.
Page A133 of the official Senate Hansard dated 25 February 1994 states that the then-Shadow Minister for Communications questioned the regulator’s chairman, asking:
“Why did not Austel immediately refer COT’s allegations of voice recording to the federal police instead of waiting for the minister to refer the matter to the Attorney-General and then on to the federal police?” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/45)
Although this segment is addressed in our Arbitrator Part One page it is again raised here because of its direct link to Telstra’s unethical conduct towards the COT cases.
I was overwhelmed by the mountain of paperwork I had to prepare on my own. Finally, I sought out the TIO and his legal counsel and explained my lack of confidence. I reiterated AUSTEL’s chairman’s reasons for initially facilitating a non-legalistic commercial assessment process. He and many government officials had always believed this would be the best and fairest way for the COT cases to present their claims.
The TIO could only console me by telling me to ‘do the best I could’. The TIO’s legal counsel reassured me the new process was fair and advised me to ‘give it a go’. And so, I had no choice but to seek help from professionals in the field.
I began by approaching a local firm of loss assessors in nearby Mt Gambier, just over the border in South Australia. An insurance agent headed this firm. When I phoned and spoke to this agent and explained who I was, giving my location and what I hoped to have help with, there was quite a long pause before he asked me if I had suffered storm damage at the camp about four or five years earlier. I had. It turned out that this Insurance agent had acted as the loss assessor back in 1991. He remembered that he had a lot of trouble trying to contact me by phone at that time. Finally, he had to resort to writing to me, to notify me when they were coming to assess the storm damage.
After discussing my current position in more detail, the agent decided that my problems were outside their area of expertise. I continued to search for assistance in the Melbourne metropolitan area, approaching four different companies specialising in communications. Three didn’t respond, and the fourth company simply wished me luck in finding someone who would be brave enough to go up against Telstra.
I then approached George Close, a technical advisor in Queensland, who finally agreed to assist. He was already working on Ann Garms’s case and she had suggested I talk to him. It was just a shame that he was so far away geographically.
When Telstra discovered that we had secured this expert’s help, they approached Mr Close and offered a very lucrative contract. It appeared the Telstra Corporation were still trying to close off all avenues for the COTs. This man, however, in his 60s, was having none of that. He made it quite clear that, if he took up Telstra’s offer, it would create a definite conflict of interest and severely disadvantage the COT members, so he declined their offer.
With the assistance of George Close, I located a loss assessor company, Freemans, also 1200 kilometres away on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Then I spoke with an ex-National Crime Authority detective, Garry Ellicott, who also agreed to help me. The only payment he expected up front was re-imbursement of travel expenses, so he could travel to Cape Bridgewater. Garry was advised by his business partner, Freemans’ Barry O’Sullivan (now Hon Senator Barry O’Sullivan) who had co-signed my arbitration agreement, as he did Ann Garms’ and Graham Schorer’s agreement, and stood by their claims as having merit.
Once all these professionals were in place I needed to raise the finances to bring the detective, Garry Ellicott, to the camp. With my business still in tatters, I was caught like a butterfly in a web: the consequential losses resulting from the poor phone service meant that my financial situation was getting worse and worse, but I badly needed money to keep up the fight. The only alternative was bankruptcy, and I was determined not to lose the camp because of Telstra.
At about this time, 900-1000 discovery documents arrived from Telstra in response to my December 1993 and February 1994 FOI requests. Telstra had supplied the documents 60 or so days late. According to the FOI act, Telstra were required to supply the documents in a specified chronological numbering system, so as I could see the date significance and relevance to what I had requested.
Telstra’s FOI game had only just started and with no arbitrator in control of the process. (See official statement by the TIO to the Senate Estimates Committee Arbitrator File No/71) My claim of ongoing telephone and faxing problems was doomed, before I had even submitted it. Not only were all these documents supplied without any numbering system and they were not the documents I had requested. There was no explanation of what the documents actually represented and there was no documentation of the complaints I registered with Telstra’s lawyers the year before. Many were unreadable; with so much information blanked out that they were totally worthless and unusable.
I managed to borrow enough money to bring ex-Queensland detective Garry Ellicott to the camp for a couple of days to observe what was going on with the phones and to assist with my claim. During his stay, Garry noted short-duration calls, dead lines and problems trying to send faxes to his Queensland Maroochydore office. His previous experience as a national crime investigator, as well as a Queensland detective sergeant, also led him to believe I was being watched. He was sure I was under electronic surveillance, as well as physical, with documents later received under FOI (including document K01006) showing that Telstra were aware of my movements at this time, as well as the movements of my staff.
While Garry was staying with me, I discovered I could not locate a number of important camp documents. Missing were exercise books, in which I kept official booking records, a number of bank statements and my bank pay-in books for 1992/93. Also missing were two diaries that were keepsakes, because they were in my ex-wife’s handwriting (from the two years she spent at Cape Bridgewater before our marriage broke up). These diaries covered the period of 1988 to 1989 and they have never been seen since. I was left with my rough diaries and the wall planners that I used to register bookings as they came in, and before they were registered in the official exercise books. This issue is discussed further elsewhere.
Because these records were missing, I was hard-pressed to produce full and correct financial statements for my financial advisor. In fact, I had to resort using information from my wall planners and diary that I compared to the bank statements I still had. Where these missing records really went, is anybody’s guess.
Graham Schorer found himself in a similar position. Thieves smashed a concrete pillar at the side of his office to gain access to his business. Interestingly, the only things stolen were Telstra-related documents. (This is discussed more fully in 2012 events.)
My stress levels rose enormously over this period. It was extremely difficult to produce a readable claim when the story was so complex and without much technical knowledge. My phone and fax lines became lifelines to the detective in Queensland. By this time I was not only relying on the phone lines, I was also, unfortunately, relying more and more on the Scotch bottle, consuming up to three or four drinks a night in an attempt to calm my nerves. My personal life suffered through the impact of the stress of these combined events. As my partner was in Ballarat and unavailable at times, I confided in a close female friend who also began to experience telephone problems around the time she became my confidante. Her customers started complaining that her phone was continually engaged. FOI documents indicate that Telstra investigated this.
I was often aware of a particular car sitting on the road above my house. Were they frequent admirers the picturesque view of Cape Bridgewater Bay, I wondered, or were they watching me? Even though I was aware that my mind could well be playing tricks on me, this was certainly worrying.
A Telstra whistleblower read out all five of the main COT cases’ names (including mine) during a Senate Estimates committee hearing on 24 June 1997. This whistleblower stated he was advised by Telstra that “we had to be “stopped at all costs” (see Open Letter File No/24). All five of us, during different periods of our lives, believed that we were under surveillance.
Even local Telstra technicians seemed to be involved in this. In one FOI document (K03273), an internal Telstra memo, the writer offers to supply a list of phone numbers that I had rung (I believe this was around the time of the briefcase incident which is described in Ring for Justice). Why were Telstra employees happy to distribute this private information so freely?
Much of this information was forwarded to the TIO, who was, after all, supposed to be the independent administration of the arbitration. Not once did I receive a reply from the TIO’s office regarding this particular matter. And still phone and fax problems continued. Since the problems were still occurring, I was in somewhat of a bind. Legally, Telstra had 30 days to respond to any FOI request I lodged, so how could I provide evidence to the arbitration regarding faults that only happened the day before? The whole process was getting out of hand and, although I raised this issue with both the TIO and the arbitrator, I didn’t get much help. The TIO would only reiterate that I should lodge my claim to the best of my ability.
Telstra’s multiplying legal team were gleaning knowledge of every document I would be sending, which made it easy for them to prepare a defence. My documents were accessed illegally and examined in detail by highly qualified legal experts. For example, faxes I received advising which documents I needed to request were intercepted. Of course, by the time the FOI requests were processed, those technical documents could not be located. As I uncovered more and more evidence of Telstra’s spying, I became more and more agitated. By May/June of 1994, as I battled on with the preparations of my claim, I was sinking deeper and deeper into depression.
Much of this information was forwarded to the TIO, who was, after all, supposed to be the independent administration of the arbitration. Not once did I receive a reply from the TIO’s office regarding this particular matter. And still phone and fax problems continued. Since the problems were still occurring, I was in somewhat of a bind. Legally, Telstra had thirty days to respond to any FOI request I lodged, so how could I provide evidence to the arbitration regarding faults that only happened the day before? The whole process was getting out of hand and, although I raised this issue with both the TIO and the arbitrator, I didn’t get much help. The TIO would only reiterate that I should lodge my claim to the best of my ability.
The Day of the Jackal
A copy of Telstra’s arbitration briefing paper dated 12 December 1994 (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1) was used as part of Telstra’s defence of my arbitration claims. As discussed on the Destruction of Evidence page (Chapter One — Personal Attacks), Telstra’s senior fault manager (the Telstra executive/technician who continually thwarted my phone and fax complaints) claimed that my faxes didn’t reach the arbitrator’s office number on 23 May 1994 because both fax service lines were busy at the time. He concluded by saying the arbitrator’s office:
“was probably busy at the time when Smith attempted to send his facsimile and the incident was not the result of a network problem (reference document 4.10)”. (See Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1)
Contained in exhibit Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 is a copy of my Telstra account for 23 May 1994 which shows the seven faxes I sent that day did transmit to the arbitrator’s office fax number 03-614 8730 and thus they charged me accordingly.
Also discussed on Destruction of Evidence is the letter written by Michele Phillips to Graham Schorer concerning this same Telstra technician asking questions and running interference between COT members.
The Telstra technician and other members of Telstra are aware that at least 81 phone calls intended for my business in one two-month period were diverted elsewhere, other than to my business.
When Darren Kearney, senior policy analyst and consumer liaison officer for AUSTEL, visited my business in Cape Bridgewater on 19 December 1995, I used Telstra’s own data to prove to him that these 81 calls were diverted, even though I had not authorised the installation of any call diversion equipment to my service. To say that Mr Kearney was shocked at this call diversion evidence is an understatement.
I believe I have every good reason to demand the arbitrator and the TIO explain why these privacy issues were allowed to continue long after my arbitration should have addressed these issues. The transcripts of my oral arbitration with Telstra and the arbitrator show these breaches should have been included in the arbitrator’s findings.
Because this call diversion issue may confuse some people, here is an example using Telstra’s own documents (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/38-A and 38-B). On 17 August 1993, File No/38-A is related to the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre (Victoria) and explains how the line was continually dead when they rang my 1800 number four times on 17 August 1993. Even so, I was charged for these four calls, all in the space of a single 28-second period. Exhibit File 38-B is a copy of my phone account for these non-connecting calls showing I was charged, even though Telstra’s own memo, File No/38-A, states the four calls did not connect.
Since the malicious-call tracing equipment, which locked up the line for 90 seconds (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/39), was not removed from my phone line until 18 August 1993, how could the community house have been connected four times in a 28-second period when each incoming call needs a set-up period after each call has terminated? It is clear from other FOI documents, and Telstra’s own technical consultants supported this, that no calls could have connected under these circumstances at any time, between 26 May and 19 August 1993, while the call tracing equipment was still connected. So, to where did these calls divert?
Hacking-Julian Assange File No/40A shows from this documentation that show this 90-second period was required between each call while this equipment was being used.
The group from the Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre arrived for their holiday in January 1994. Later, two letters arrived from members of this group, complaining that my customer coin-operated gold phone service was most unsatisfactory. They wrote that the phone was “taking money under false pretences”, not connecting long enough for callers to properly complete their calls and the line kept “going dead” (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/40A).
In sum: It is widely accepted by Telstra, the government regulator and the arbitration technical consultants that calls being registered into my business could not have connected for 90 seconds after a successful call terminated. Yet Telstra billed me for calls that came through within that 90-second period. I still have the 83 full sets of data confirming that this did occur. David Kearney was shocked at this evidence, but although I provided conclusive proof to the arbitration process it was never investigated.
It is important to raise the connection between this Telstra technician, the arbitrator and my diverted telephone calls because Garry Ellicott believed they were linked to the interception of my faxes. It also seems that the technician acted in a most unprofessional manner when dealing with serious phone faults and privacy issues and it appears his actions allowed many valid complaints (not just mine) to go unaddressed.
As discussed on the Destruction of Evidence page, a decade later this particular technician was still actively obstructing complaints and protecting Telstra. Why? On 28 January 2003, a letter from a TIO officer to Telstra states:
“That a Telstra technician [name deleted] 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.”
However, back in mid-1995, as more and more FOI documents arrived after my arbitration, I found it harder and harder to just shut the door and walk away. I became increasingly convinced I was set up and the victim of a deliberate act of sabotage. This was not just in relation to the ‘sticky beer in the phone’ episode, but also in relation to non-addressed faxed claim documents. Why, I wondered, did the arbitrator not make any finding regarding these lost faxes, both before and during the arbitration process?
These lost faxes included valuable evidence, but they had somehow been lost in Telstra’s network, en route to the arbitrator’s office for assessment by the resource unit and by Telstra’s defence unit. These two episodes became the focus for my driving force behind my persistence in trying to uncover the truth. Wasn’t it obvious to the arbitrator that Telstra wanted to hide the faulty line from the resource unit in case they stumbled on the truth of the fact that it was Telstra’s lines that were causing the problems?
The only way any of the members of COT could prove their cases was by using documents buried in Telstra’s archives; how likely were they to get their hands on them? Six weeks before I signed my arbitration agreement, AUSTEL’s own investigations into my complaints were hampered. Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13 shows that, as a government communications regulator, AUSTEL had a duty of care to inform the government that, if they were unable to access documents from Telstra under legislation (section 335  of the Telecommunications Act 1991), then what hope did the COT cases have of fully supporting their claims?
Hacking / Unresolved Privacy Issues
Between June 2011 and June 2012, I sent a number of letters to the Hon Robert Clark, Victorian attorney-general, regarding the prolonged, unauthorised interception of Graham Schorer’s and my faxes during and after our arbitrations. Three replies (dated 12 October 2011, 23 March 2012 and 2 July 2012) are in Main Evidence File No 10. Each response, all headed Interception of facsimiles, stipulated that the Department of Justice cannot investigate interception of faxes, even though I provided documented proof of:
- The interception of faxes exchanged between lawyers and their clients while they were involved in Supreme Court proceedings;
- The interception of faxes to and from the arbitrator while the other COT claimants and I were involved in a federal government-endorsed arbitration;
- Telstra’s admission to the Australian Federal Police that Telstra intercepted my telephone conversations.
On the covering page of a joint 10-page letter dated 11 July 2011 to the Hon Robert McClelland, federal attorney-general and the Hon Robert Clark, Victorian attorney-general, I note:
“In 1994 three young computer hackers telephoned Graham Schorer, the official Spokesperson for the Casualties of Telstra (COT) in relation to their Telstra arbitrations.
- Was Jullian Assange one of these hackers?
- The hackers believed they had found evidence that Telstra was acting illegally.
- “In other words, we were fools not to have accepted this arbitration file when it was offered to us by the hackers who conveyed to Graham Schorer a sense of the enormity of the deception and misconduct under taken [sic] by Telstra against the COT Cases.” (See Hacking – Julian Assange File No/2)
I also wrote to the Hon Robert Clark on 20 June 2012, to remind him that his office was already in receipt of a 7 July 2011 statutory declaration prepared by Graham Schorer. This statutory declaration discusses the three young computer hackers who phoned Graham during the COT arbitrations of 1994 to warn him. They had discovered that Telstra and others associated with the arbitrations were ‘acting unlawfully’ towards the COT group. Graham’s statutory declaration includes the following statements:
“After I signed the arbitration agreement on 21st April 1994 I received a phone call after business hours when I was working back late in the office. This call was to my unpublished direct number.
“The young man on the other end asked for me by name. When I had confirmed I was the named person, he stated that he and his two friends had gained internal access to Telstra’s records, internal emails, memos, faxes, etc. He stated that he did not like what they had uncovered. He suggested that I should talk to Frank Blount directly. He offered to give me his direct lines in the his [sic] Melbourne and Sydney offices…
“The caller tried to stress that it was Telstra’s conduct towards me and the other COT members that they were trying to bring to our attention.
“I queried whether he knew that Telstra had a Protective Services department, whose task was to maintain the security of the network. They laughed, and said that yes they did, as they were watching them (Telstra) looking for them (the hackers). …
“After this call, I spoke to Alan Smith about the matter. We agreed that while the offer was tempting we decided we should only obtain our arbitration documents through the designated process agreed to before we signed the agreement.” (See Hacking – Julian Assange File No/3)
It is also important to note that just prior, in March 1994, Mr Schorer’s office was broken into in. I was also assisting the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with their investigations into my claims of fax interceptions. Hacking-Julian Assanage File No 52 contains a letter from Telstra’s internal corporate solicitor to an AFP detective superintendent, misinforming the AFP concerning the transmission fax testing process. The rest of the file shows Telstra did experience major problems when testing my facsimile machine, when it was tested in conjunction with a facsimile machine installed at Graham’s office.
It is important to highlight how skilfully Mr Row did not disclose to the AFP the problems Telstra had experienced when sending and receiving faxes between my machine and Graham’s fax machine.
Although the following 22 April 1994 fax issue is addressed above, it relates directly to AUSTEL only receiving three blank pages, even though AUSTEL’s fax report shows these pages took between 1min 20sec to 2min 40sec to transmit. (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/34-A and File No/34-B)
None of those three blank pages had my fax identification displayed at the top of the received documents nor the time and date that they were sent. However, they all had a single, small square in the top right corner of the page, each with a number inside it.
Even if blank sheets of paper are faxed mistakenly instead of printed documents, they will still arrive with the sender’s identity, the date and the time the document was sent. As I later proved to the arbitrator, these blank documents did not include any sender identification. The arbitrator however, for reasons known only to him, never investigated this apparent interception of my arbitration claim documents – clearly an invasion of my privacy – just as he didn’t investigate the threats and harassment from senior Telstra executives that I was subjected to throughout my arbitration.
The 22 April 1994 fax issue also relates directly to a fax issue on 29 June 1998, four years after my arbitration, which was supposed to address these faxing problems. My solicitor, Mr William Hunt, sent me copies of two documents that I had faxed from my office, but which had arrived at Mr Hunt’s office as blank sheets of paper except for this strange numbering system, again inside a small square in the top right corner of the page. Mr Hunt also sent a copy of his fax journal for that day (see Hacking – Julian Assange File No /48 and File No/49) confirming their arrival in his office, just as AUSTEL had also done, just one day into my arbitration.
Is there a connection between the loss of my faxed arbitration documents and the TIO’s 28 June 1995 letter stating that his office has no record of my 24 January 1995 letter to the arbitrator requesting him to seek various documents from Telstra under the discovery process? My 24 January 1995 letter requesting a copy of the Cape Bridgewater/Bell Canada information to be provided from Telstra through the arbitration process was received (see Home Evidence File N0 5).Are the lost claim-related faxes issues part of the collusion that festered during our arbitrations when the TIO covertly agreed along with the defendants (Telstra) that the TIO-appointed arbitration resource unit would be given the power to decide what documents were released into the arbitration process? (See Arbitrator Part One, Chapter Six)
Why did the TIO advise me that records in his office did not record receiving my 24 January 1995 letter? “Our file does not indicate that you took the matter any further,” (see Home Evidence File No 4). When my letter was returned to me, the fax footprint indicates it was received at the arbitrator’s fax machine. The TIO’s 28 June 1995 letter is possibly one of our most damning pieces of evidence, showing that “forces at work” were able to conceal essential arbitration material from being addressed during my arbitration process.
If the arbitrator had acted on my requests for the Cape Bridgewater/Bell Canada test information, which I was legally entitled to have, I could have proved the Bell Canada International could not possibly generate the alleged 13,500 test calls through a Tekelec CCS7 system that they and Telstra stated was installed at the Cape Bridgewater RCM exchange. There was no equipment in place at the Bridgewater exchange to facilitate such tests. The nearest Telstra exchange that could facilitate a Tekelec CCS7 monitoring system in November 1993 was the Warrnambool exchange, which is 112 kilometres from Cape Bridgewater. The TIO and Commonwealth Ombudsman records will confirm I requested the BCI information on at least four occasions.
It is serious enough that an Australian corporation knowingly provided false answers to questions on notice during a Senate committee hearing, however, consider: if the TIO is telling the truth that the arbitrator did NOT receive my 24 January 1995 BCI letter, then who did? And why do the markings on this document show that it arrived at its intended destination? My own BCI report shows Telstra even went as far as knowingly providing false Cape Bridgewater information to the Senate in October 1994. As a result, the Senate estimates committee did not investigate the fundamentally flawed BCI Cape Bridgewater report.
In April 1995, more tricks of injustice were unearthed when a Telstra official arrived at the camp on 6 April 1995 and we collected a representative from the new technical unit from the airport. The three of us inspected the exchanges at Cape Bridgewater and Portland and held discussions with the local technician. As mentioned elsewhere, during this visit, I attempted to raise the incorrect billing issues. However, according to the technical unit people, the arbitrator had instructed them not to assess any new claim material. Naturally, I was most irate. This was a complete turn-around by the arbitrator, who had assured me if I discovered any new information among FOI documents that I received late, that information could be presented to the technical resource unit when they visited the camp. I had burned the midnight oil night after night to have my evidence prepared before the technical team arrived. This new information further supported my allegations. I managed to have the TIO consultant look at one document while the Telstra official was still present. This was a copy of part of my 1800 call account. I asked how I could be charged on 13 January 1995 for a 9.49-minute call at 11.50 am, and then for a 42-second call at 11.57 am? It is certainly not possible to have two calls overlapping on the same line at the same time.
This caught the attention of the technical TIO consultant and I was able to offer further examples of incorrect charging on this 1800 account, on 10 and 11 January. This account showed calls from my home number to the camp number. According to my diary notes, both those calls registered an engaged signal, but both were charged as having connected. And again, on 13 January, there were similar examples of more incorrect charging. Incorrect charging ran rampant through Telstra, as my account showed.
Neither the Telstra official nor the technical unit personnel were prepared to comment on this evidence at the time. During their visit, I was assured the matter would be taken up and addressed as part of the arbitration process. The Telstra and technical representatives left shortly after this – together. This was, of course, in direct breach of the rules of the arbitration. What transpired between these two parties? The answer to that question is probably only known to those two parties concerned. (And the arbitrator perhaps?)
Both resource units were now preparing their reports. I had a sense of foreboding (which proved to be correct) that the very people who supposed to protect the COT members were betraying us. I felt crucified by the very person who should have been delivering justice, the arbitrator. He failed to investigate why my fax and my phones continued to create problems and now I was convinced that the arbitration process was purely a sham, initiated only to silence me through the provision of some sort of minimum award payment.
If the new technical unit had been aware of the deficient verification testing and the fact that Telstra was relying on false BCI test results to support the efficiency of their network into Cape Bridgewater, they would have demanded that the arbitrator ask Telstra the true extend of the faults in the network.
If the arbitrator had been aware, at this point, that Telstra was relying on deficient test results and an impracticable BCI test report to support their defence of my claims, he was legally bound to ask Telstra for an explanation.
Covert recordings of this document, which my advisors Garry Ellicott and Barry O’Sullivan raised in my arbitration claim, confirmed that the government communications regulator allowed Telstra to secretly address the billing issues outside of the legal arena of my arbitration (see Arbitrator File/No 29 & 30 and Main Evidence File No 23 Part-1 and 23 Part 2). I could not legally challenge Telstra’s grossly inaccurate response to these billing issues, because Garry, Barry and I knew nothing about this clandestine operation.
On 16 October 1995, five months after my arbitration was declared finished, AUSTEL (the government regulator) took charge of this secret deal with Telstra. This covert investigation was illegal because my arbitration was supposed to have been administered according to the ambit of the Arbitration (Commercial) Act 1984, which means that no officially registered claim or defence material can be investigated unless the appointed arbitrator has notified both sides, to allow the normal right of reply. Addressing legally submitted defence and/or claim material in secret, without disclosure and allowing the right of reply, is forbidden in most Western democracies except, obviously, in Australia, when the defendant is the Telstra Corporation.
Although the following 22 April 1994 fax issue has been addressed above, it is directly related to AUSTEL only having received three blank pages, even though they appear on AUSTEL’s fax report as having taken between 1.20 seconds to 2.40 seconds to transmit. (Hacking-Julian Assange File No/19)
None of those three blank pages had my fax identification displayed at the top of the received documents or the time and date that they had been sent. However, they all had a single, small square in the top right corner of the page, each with a number inside it.
This 2nd April 1994 fax issue is also directly related to the fax issue on 29 June 1998, four years after my arbitration, was supposed to have addressed these faxing problems. My solicitor Mr William Hunt, sent me copies of two documents that I had faxed from my office, but which had arrived at Mr Hunt’s office as blank sheets of paper except for this strange numbering system, again inside a small square in the top right corner of the page. Mr Hunt also sent a copy of his fax journal for the 29th June 1998, the day he received these blank sheets of paper, thereby confirming their arrival in his office, just as AUSTEL had also done, just one day into my Arbitration.
Even if blank sheets of paper are mistakenly faxed instead of printed documents, they will still arrive with the sender’s identity, the date and the time the document was sent. As I later proved to the arbitrator, these blank documents did not include any such sender identification. The arbitrator however, for reasons known only to him, never investigated this apparent interception of my arbitration claim documents – clearly an invasion of my privacy – just as he didn’t investigate the constant threats and harassment from senior Telstra’s executives, which I was subjected to throughout my arbitration.
Are the lost faxes (claim related document) issues part of the collusion that festered itself in our arbitrations when the TIO covertly agreed along with the defendants (Telstra) that the TIO-appointed arbitration resource unit would be given the power to decide what documents were released into the arbitration process (see Chapter Six Arbitrator Part One). In simple words, has the not received 24th January,1995 letter by
Is there a connection between the continued loss of my faxed arbitration documents and the TIO saying in his 28th June, 1995 letter, (see below) that his office has no record of my 24th January 1995 letter to the arbitrator that requests him to seek various documents from Telstra under the discovery process?
The following 28th June 1995 letter is possibly one of the most damning pieces of evidence we have which shows that forces at work had been able to conceal essential and very relevant arbitration material from being addressed during my arbitration process.
It is clear from (Home Evidence File N0 5), my letter was received. My official arbitration request to the arbitrator on the 23rd January 1995, is directly related to both the impracticable Cape Bridgewater Bell Canada International Inc. Tests. The next request I made to the arbitrator, the following day, on 24th January 1995, (Home Evidence File N0 5), is when I asked for a copy of the Cape Bridgewater/Bell Canada information to be provided from Telstra through the arbitration process.
This letter dated 28th June 1995, to me from the TIO noted that “ Our file does not indicate that you took the matter any further,…”, (Home Evidence File No 4), even though, when my letter of 24th January 1995 was returned to me three months after my arbitration was concluded, the fax footprint on page 2 is (24-01-1995 15:12 FROM CAPE BRIDGE HDAY CAMP TO 036148730) indicates that it was received at the arbitrator’s fax machine (number 036148730). So why did the TIO advise me that records in his office, show that I didn’t send this 24th January 1995 letter?
If the arbitrator had followed up on my requests for the Cape Bridgewater/Bell Canada test information from Telstra, and Telstra had supplied the information I was legally entitled to have through the arbitration process, then I could have proved, Bell Canada International could not possibly have generated the alleged 13,500 tests calls through a Tekelec CCS7 Monitoring (testing) System that Bell Canada and Telstra alleged was installed at the Cape Bridgewater RCM exchange, specifically to filter those incoming tests calls, because there was no equipment in place at the Bridgewater Exchange to facilitate such tests. If Telstra’s technicians currently at Portland were asked; they would confirm that the nearest Telstra exchange that could facilitate a Tekelec CCS7 Monitoring System back in November 1993, was the Warrnambool exchange (a rural town in Victoria) which is 112 kilometres from Cape Bridgewater.
While it is serious enough for any Australian Corporation to knowingly provide false answers to questions on notice during such a Senate Committee hearing, (which they did), what has been revealed here is, if the TIO is telling the truth that the arbitrator did NOT get my 24 January, 1995 BCI letter, then who did? And why do the markings on this document show that it arrived at its intended destination?
In April 1995, more tricks of the justice trade were unearthed. On the 6th April 1995, a Telstra official arrived at the camp and we collected a representative from the new technical unit from the airport. The three of us inspected the exchanges at Cape Bridgewater and Portland and had discussions with the local technician (the one with the stock farm agent friend who apparently had never had problems with his phone – until my advisors Garry Ellicott and Barry O’Sullivan (now Senator Barry O’Sullivan) uncovered the agent’s complaint records).
While the new technical team were in Cape Bridgewater, I again attempted to raise the incorrect billing issues. According to the technical unit people, the arbitrator had instructed them not to assess any new claim material. Naturally, I was most irate. This was a complete turn-around by the arbitrator, who had assured me if I discovered any new information among FOI documents which I received late, that information could be presented to the technical resource unit when they came to the camp. I had burned the midnight oil night after night to have my evidence prepared before the technical team arrived. It was clear that all this new information would have further supported my allegations. I was so angry, in fact, that I managed to have him at least look at one document while the Telstra official was still present. This was a copy of part of my 1800 call account. How, I asked, could I be charged for a 9.49 minute call on 13th January 1995 at 11.50 am, and then for a 42 second call at 11.57 am? It is certainly not possible to have two calls overlapping on the same line at the same time.
This caught the attention of the technical TIO consultant and I was able to offer further examples of incorrect charging on this 1800 account, both on 10th and 11thJanuary. This account showed calls from my home number to the camp number. According to my diary notes, both those calls registered an engaged signal, but both were charged as having connected. And again, on 13th January, there were similar examples of more incorrect charging. Clearly incorrect charging had been running rampant through Telstra, just as my account showed.
False Witness Statements
This was not the only misconduct that occurred during this one-sided, secret AUSTEL operation. Next, Telstra was allowed to re-use the earlier witness statement from 12 December 1994, which had been signed and registered by a local Portland technician who claimed his stock-farm agent friend had apparently never had problems with his phone – until my advisors uncovered that agent’s complaint records.
This questionable witness statement was re-used even though, six months earlier, my advisors proved to the arbitrator that it was grossly inaccurate and misleading. An AUSTEL representative travelled from Melbourne to visit my business on 19 December 1995. When he realised Telstra’s secret response was fundamentally flawed and found so much of my detailed evidence was not addressed at all by the arbitration process, he requested to take seven bound volumes of my evidence back to Melbourne.
AUSTEL records show that AUSTEL found my claims to be correct and substantiated. Their findings (see Arbitrator File No/109), dated February 1996, were based on the evidence in the seven bound volumes collected from my business and included 23 individual instances where my proof could not be questioned in any way as I had used Telstra’s own data to back up my statements. Did AUSTEL initiate a special one-off hearing with the arbitrator so that these claims could be fully investigated? There was NO special hearing. If this hearing had happened, there would be NO need for absentjustice.com.
No findings on lost claim documents
Although the arbitrator agreed to investigate our claims of phone and fax interception, his official findings contained no reference to the matter.
Confidential faxes, intercepted during the arbitration, included faxes to our lawyers and advisors and various senators who were trying to help us. Some critical faxes, both incoming and outgoing, which could have changed the outcome of the arbitration went missing, in transit. I used Telstra’s own data to show that at least six of the arbitration claim documents that I faxed to the arbitrator’s office, never arrived for his assessment. My Telstra bill itemised them, but the arbitrator’s secretary stated that these six faxed documents never arrived. The arbitrator ignored the evidence I placed before him. Something was very amiss with the whole process.
We again draw the reader’s attention to the 12 May 1995 letter from the arbitrator to the TIO stating:
“the time frames set in the original Arbitration Agreement were, with the benefit of hindsight, optimistic;
“in particular; we did not allow sufficient time in the Arbitration Agreement for inevitable delays associated with the production of documents, obtaining further particulars and the preparation of technical reports…
“In summary, it is my view that if the process is to remain credible, it is necessary to contemplate a time frame for completion which is longer than presently contained in the Arbitration Agreement.” (See Main Evidence File No 34)
This letter from the arbitrator to the TIO, written towards the end of the arbitration process but before the closing date for an appeal – a fax that was critical to my appeal process – did not reach me. I did not receive a copy until 2002. If I had received this fax, I could have successfully appealed the negative finding of the arbitration process, but unfortunately I did not receive this letter until after the statute of limitations had expired.
The fax imprint across the top of the arbitrator’s letter is the same as the fax imprint described in the Scandrett & Associates report (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13). The question the TIO’s office has still not answered is:
Was this letter actually faxed to my office by the ombudsman to assist me in any pending appeal process, and if not, why was such an important letter deliberately kept from me during my designated appeal period?
I have asked this question many times because, if I had received a copy of this letter declaring the agreement used in my arbitration process was not credible, then of course I would have appealed the arbitrator’s award. How could an appeal judge argue against the arbitrator’s own findings that the agreement was not credible, even though he used it anyway?
Possible interception of 12 May 1995 letter:
Whoever had access to Telstra’s network, and therefore the TIO’s office service lines, knew – during the designated appeal time of my arbitration – that my arbitration was conducted using a set of rules (arbitration agreement) that the arbitrator had declared not credible. There are three fax identification lines across the top of the second page of this 12 May 1995 letter:
- The third line down from the top of the page (i.e. the bottom line) shows that the document was first correctly faxed from the arbitrator’s office, on 12-5-95, at 2:41pm to the Melbourne office of the TIO – 61 3 277 8797;
- The middle line indicates that it was faxed on the same day, exactly one hour later, at 15:41, from the TIO’s correct fax number, followed by the words “TIO LTD” to;
- The top line, however, begins with the words “Fax from”, followed by the correct fax number for the TIO’s office, and then the date (12/05/95) and the time (14:50).
Consider the order of the time stamps. The top line (3) is the second sending of the document at 14:50, nine minutes after the fax from the arbitrator’s office (1) therefore, between the TIO’s office receiving the first fax, which was sent at 2.41pm (14:41) and sending it on at 15:41, exactly one hour later, to his home (2), the fax was re-sent at 14:50 (3). In other words, the document sent nine minutes after the letter reached the TIO office was intercepted.
“We canvassed examples, which we are advised are a representative group, of this phenomenon.
“They show that
- the header strip of various faxes is being altered
- the header strip of various faxes was changed or semi overwritten.
- In all cases the replacement header type is the same.
- The sending parties all have a common interest and that is COT.
- Some faxes have originated from organisations such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman office.
- The modified type face of the header could not have been generated by the large number of machines canvassed , making it foreign to any of the sending services.” (See Open Letter Evidence File No/13,
On 11 January 1999, Mr Peter Hancock stated in a sworn testament:
“In my experience there is no other explanation for the discrepancies in the facsimile footprints in question.
Mr Hancock also states that, in his professional opinion, selected faxes between the Golden Messenger and Graham Schorer’s lawyers and between various members of COT and my office at Cape Bridgewater were intercepted.
What is so disturbing about the arbitrator’s 12 May 1995 letter to the TIO, is the letter condemned the arbitration agreement as ‘not credible’, but the arbitrator had used it for my arbitration anyway: they both knew this arbitration agreement was secretly drafted by Telstra’s arbitration defence lawyers.
Not only were important documents, properly submitted to the legal, government-sanctioned COT arbitration process, somehow misplaced or lost along the way, but despite Graham Schorer providing Senator Ron Boswell with conclusive proof of someone, via Telstra’s network, intercepted claim material travelling between at least five COT claimants, the arbitrator, advisors and various government officials; this unlawful interference was never transparently investigated – at all.
Surely, an official notification of illegal behaviour of this nature should create a huge furore. However, this is just one indication of exactly how much power the Telstra Corporation had – and possibly still has – to manipulate the Australian legal system to their advantage, regardless of illegality.
The documents I provided included confirmation from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) that the surveillance of my daily movements appeared to have started sometime around August 1992. The international media recently reported that the hacking scandal in Britain, discussed below, appeared to affect those subjected to it deeply, on emotional levels, although this hacking into businesses and private lives did not occur over an extended period, as was the case for many of the members of COT (including me).
On 17 October 1994, during my arbitration, the TIO was advised that Telstra would respond to the claim (of illegal hacking) under the agreed arbitration procedure (see Hacking – Julian Assange Evidence File No/25) but neither Telstra nor the arbitrator has ever responded to my claims. Transcripts of an arbitration hearing on 11 October 1994, in the presence of the arbitrator and the writer of the 17 October 1994 letter, record that I wanted the arbitrator to investigate these matters as part of my arbitration claim.
Pages 38 to 41 of the transcript of this meeting (Telstra FOI document folio L69280-L69284), which was provided to the Office of the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull and various other LNP ministers since 2014, confirm the arbitrator knew these matters were to be addressed as part of my arbitration process.
Oral Arbitration Hearing
Transcripts from my 11 October, 1994 oral arbitration hearing confirm Telstra advised the arbitrator they thought my singles club information was irrelevant and therefore should not be accepted into arbitration process. This evidence supported that I had lost two businesses due to my ongoing telephone problems, i.e., the school camp bookings as well as the more-lucrative singles club bookings. The transcripts, which I can supply the AFP if requested, show Dr Hughes was badgered into accepting Telstra’s insistence that my singles club material be not assessed during the arbitration process. Why did Dr Hughes allow Telstra to decide not to view my singles club evidence as a business loss, even though he had previously understood the advice given to me by Superintendent Detective Penrose and had agreed the singles club material could be submitted under confidentiality during the oral hearing? That he went back on his word.
Question 24, in the 20 September interrogatories shown in our Front Page Part Two File No/3 A to 3 C link here we show I answered the following question 24 by stating to Telstra and the arbitrator:
“This matter is currently under investigation by the Federal Police. In the interest of fair justice I believe that I should not further comment apart from what I have already stated that it is true that I was told this by Detective Superintendent Penrose. It the Australian Federal Police are prepared to disclose the details of their investigations and of their conversations with myself, then Telecom will be able to obtain the same”
In our Front Page Part Two link 3-c for the date of 11 October 1994, during my five-hour, nonstop, oral-arbitration hearing, Telstra’s Mr Benjamin and Telstra’s other arbitration liaison officer, Steve Black, discussed along with the arbitrator and me my claims regarding Telstra’s unauthorized interception issues noting:
Mr Benjamin: “In respect of Detective Superintendent Penrose.”
Mr Black: “There has been an allegation that Detective Superintendent Penrose says that the Plummers’ telephone was allegedly unlawfully tapped” —
Me: “I believe Telecom is playing on words – the word “illegally tapped” – it’s like asking me – I’m not a —
Dr Hughes: “Sorry, if I can interrupt both of you, the issue here is that your answers – your answer to question 24, you indicate that you were told something by Detective Superintendent Penrose.”
Dr Hughes: “Is there any documentation to support that statement or is there any other light that you can shed upon that statement you have made in relation to Detective Penrose?”…
Me: “I have spoken to Detective Penrose on two occasions and he has stated that my phones had been listened to.”
I raise the interrogatories and the oral arbitration hearing (see Front Page Part Two File No/3 A to 3 C) because of the main question they raise: how could it possibly be ethical, or moral, for Dr Hughes to expect me to disclose further personal and private information about the female members of my Singles Club, for all to see, when the AFP were still investigating Telstra in relation to how they were able to separately record the names and phone numbers of various other female Singles Club members when that information had only ever been sent by fax or discussed over the telephone. NONE of my singles club lost revenue due to my ongoing proven telephone faults were ever recorded by Dr Hughes (arbitrator) or Ferrier Hodgson Corporate Advisory (arbitration resource unit) in their final Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp findings as discussed below. It can be viewed from File No/3-C that I wanted Telstra’s unauthorisation of my telecommunications services investigated as part of my arbitration claim.
Is it possible that if the AFP had not been involved in interviewing Telstra’s staff for alleged misconduct towards me and not advised me it was inappropriate for me to disclose the names and phone numbers of my single club members, and if I had disclosed this then that part of my loss might have been assessed by the arbitrator?
What is so appalling about the withholding of relevant documents is that no one in the TIO office or government has ever investigated the disastrous impact this had on my overall submission to the arbitrator. Material, which could further support my claims before the arbitrator, was denied me. The arbitrator and the government (who at the time fully owned Telstra) should have initiated an investigation into why an Australian citizen, who assisted the AFP in their investigations into unauthorized interception of his telephone conversations, was so severely disadvantaged during a civil arbitration process.
No third world country, let alone one that boasts of being democratic, should force claimants to enter into an arbitration process with a corporation like Telstra, while its senior management was under investigation by the Senate and the government, and its middle management were under investigation, by the Federal police. These investigations included the rorting of millions upon millions of dollars (possibly billions) from Telstra shareholders: i.e., the government and Australian citizens, who then owned Telstra (see Front Page Part One). The same defendants were under investigation on two fronts for committing criminal conduct towards fellow Australians, including alleged criminal conduct towards claimants, who were forced out of their already operating government-endorsed Fast Track Settlement Proposal (commercial settlement process) into an arbitration agreement that the defendants were secretly allowed to draft in order to benefit their defence. And yet, when the arbitrator realised the arbitration agreement he allowed the defence to draft was not a credible document, he still used it anyway. How in the name of justice, as we know it to be in Australia, have these matters been allowed to remain unresolved?
Thirty Three Months After My Arbitration
On 14 January 1998, Telstra sent two officers to meet with me. As discussed elsewhere, during this meeting, I showed them a fax that had arrived on my machine from the Crown Casino in Melbourne. This fax was not intended for me and was one of many I received over the following months, all from the Crown Casino complex. I complained to the TIO in July 1998 and, although the TIO’s office never responded to my complaint, these faxes from the casino stopped. How did these faxes, originating from the casino, reach my fax machine? The fax numbers they were addressed to were nothing like mine; not even in a similar range. In fact, most of the numbers the faxes were intended for were 450 kilometres away.
After this meeting with the two Telstra officers, I waited for some sort of resolution of the faults I had raised but nothing happened until October 1998. At this time, I was paying only part of my fax account in an effort to highlight the problems that were not being addressed. Even though the account for this fax line was still in dispute, Telstra disconnected the line. I continued to pay off the account although this meant I was paying the rental for a service that no longer existed. The final payment was made on 20 March 1999, six months after the line was disconnected. This means that, from October 1998, I had to move most of my office duties to my residence in order to connect my fax machine to a working phone line. I sent all faxes from my residence from that time on and, although some faults continued to occur, they were not nearly as numerous as those I had suffered prior to July 1998. On 28 January 1999, I sent a fax to a business associate some distance away. My Telstra fax account shows charges for two fax calls to his number on this date: 08:23 pm, lasting for 40 seconds and 08:24 pm, lasting for three minutes and 31 seconds. According to my fax journal, the first call was not answered – so why was I charged for this call? Remember, these are all long-distance, timed calls, not a single 25-cent local call charge. And then, according to my associate, the second fax never arrived – so where is it?
These examples of missing faxes are not simply glitches in the system, or of little importance; there are even more astounding and, so far, unexplained events. On 19 March 1999, my secretarial agency in Melbourne sent a six-page fax to my office. My fax machine doesn’t cut off each page, so a multi-paged fax comes off the machine as one long strip of paper. As I watched this fax roll off the machine, it began to ring as if a new call was coming in even though the line was fully engaged at the time. The fax from the secretarial agency stopped and a two-page fax from my solicitor, also in Melbourne, followed on. While I stood gaping in surprise the phone rang again. The fax from my solicitor ended and the final three pages from the secretarial agency rolled out of the machine – all in one continuous strip: three pages from one address, two pages from a second, totally unrelated address, then another three pages from the first address.
And so we arrive at this question: are your faxes and emails also being lost or intercepted? Who knows? What we do know is that the technology exists to divert calls from one phone (or fax) to another and what we must now ask is – how is that technology being used?
Because I complained about short-duration calls (lasting only a few seconds) many times over many years, Telstra wrote to the regulator on 11 November 1994 stating they would address these short-duration calls as part of their defence of my claims. Of course, this didn’t happen and the short-duration call issue remains unresolved.
A Telstra document (FOI number A03610) stating Telstra believed that some of these calls were diverted, opened another can of worms. I certainly did not have a call diverter on any of my lines back in 1994, not even to divert calls to Telstra’s message bank – I have my own answering machine. So, if these calls were being diverted, to where were they being diverted? Who arranged for them to be diverted? And why were they being diverted? Again, I don’t have the answers to those questions.
I am not the only Telstra customer suffering from this ‘phantom diverter’ problem. The members of COT have provided the Victoria Police and Telstra with the name of another Telstra customer who contacted our group some time ago. It was proven, and Telstra has acknowledged, that some of this customer’s business calls were being diverted to her competitor. Again the question must be asked: how many other customers have suffered and are suffering from unrecognised interference with their phone calls and faxes? Why haven’t the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and/or the Federal Police investigated any of these issues? How long is the Minister for Communications going to continue to ignore these issues? Telstra’s enormous profits continue to grow and Telstra shareholders continue to reap the benefit, which is a good thing – unless, of course, these profits come from faulty billing procedures and ‘ripped-off’ customers.
Graham’s fax journal does not coincide with my Telstra fax account for faxes charged as sent. Fax journal printouts taken from Graham’s fax machine (AS 255) do not match up in relation to faxes that we were charged for, as being sent. Graham Schorer’s and my fax interception files that I offered to the Australian Communications & Media Authority (the ACMA) on 9 February 2011, confirm frequent problems with faxes being sent between our offices.
If I hadn’t phoned Graham to discuss a document that didn’t arrive, we may not have discovered that it had ‘gone walkabout’ between our fax machines. Most people would accept a single incident like this as just a ‘blip’ in the system. Unfortunately, this happened repeatedly from October 1993 through to December 2002.
The information in Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13, was offered to the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA) and the TIO’s office for assessment purposes. To date they have refused to assess that information together with two arch lever files of similar evidence. Had they assessed this evidence, as one would expect an independent regulator to have done, their findings would have resulted in them having to investigate further. A second investigation would have uncovered numerous arbitration claim documents that I either faxed or sent by Australia Post that never reached the arbitrator.
The only conclusion one can draw from the refusal of these two offices to view this evidence is that both the TIO and ACMA would have to agree that, as a large portion of my claim material never reached the arbitrator for assessment, that part of my arbitration claim is still unresolved.
Main Evidence File No 42 is a Memorandum of Advice re Supreme Court of Victoria proceeding, Graham Schorer (Golden Messenger) v the Telstra Corporation, which was prepared by Barrister Paul Cosgrave, and faxed to Graham from Mr Cosgrave’s office in Melbourne, on 3 December 1998. The correct fax identification for Mr Cosgrave’s office has been removed and replaced with the words “Fax from”, followed by Mr Cosgrave’s correct office number, 61 3 960 8877, and this appears across the top of all 12 pages of the document.
Main Evidence File No 43 shows another legal document, faxed from Mr Cosgrave’s same Melbourne office to Graham, c/o Canberra International Hotel, on 8 December 1998. On this occasion, Mr Cosgrave’s correct fax identification appears on all 17 pages of this fax. It seems that whoever had access to Telstra’s network while Mr Schorer was in litigation with Telstra, used certain key words to locate the faxes they wanted to intercept between Mr Cosgrave’s Sir Owen Dixon Chambers and Graham’s office.
The Federal Attorney-General’s office should have dealt with this interception issue years ago and long before Australia began competing with Asia in relation to conducting international arbitrations. If in-confidence legal documents can be intercepted freely, as happened both during and for years after the COT arbitrations, and if the government regulator, ACMA, will not intervene or even look at the evidence the COTs are offering, this must mean the government knows that the COT claims are true.
Of public concern: Graham Schorer and I each have a copy of an internal Telstra document that refers to particular documents faxed between Graham’s office and mine. This document states that Graham and my documents were “Stored in Fax Stream,” thereby confirming that Telstra did (and probably still does) store customer in-confidence documents that they have intercepted. Perhaps these documents can be accessed at any given time and in any situation that might arise, such as a court action against claimants that Telstra might label as vexatious, or even during an arbitration process. The possibilities for sensitive information to be used by corrupt individuals or corporations, for their gain, are endless.
One of the most important reasons for highlighting both these lack-of-privacy issues, and the issues related to so many of our documents that went missing after being faxed, either to the arbitrator directly or to our lawyers, is our concern regarding the overall affect this had on the COT cases during their arbitrations, because these issues were not addressed, either during the arbitrations or during the Senate Estimates Committee investigation.
Those faxes that went missing in June 1998, between my office and William Hunt’s office, vanished at the same time that both Graham Schorer and Ann Garms believed their faxed Supreme Court documents were being intercepted, and at the same time that William Hunt, Graham and I were all trying to help Ann with her Supreme Court appeal against Dr Hughes’ award (see Arbitration Appeal Process – Ann Garms Supreme Court of Victoria – Part 1 and Part 2).
Ann, Graham and I have discussed this interception of Supreme Court documents many times over the years particularly the way that it was these same intercepted files that most concerned Peter Hiland, the Barrister for Consumer Affairs at the time, and how it was this interception of in-confidence documents that prompted Mr Hiland to state, in front of two witnesses, that the CAV would investigate any clarification I could provide to them in support of our claims that those in-confidence documents had been scanned, screened or intercepted in some way before being redirected to the destination they had originally been intended for.
Our CAV document data-base includes a record showing that, in October 2007, a witness, professionally known to Peter Hiland, provided Mr Hiland with more than thirty-four spiral-bound submissions, and that four of them indicated quite clearly that someone with access to Telstra’s network had intercepted Telstra-arbitration-related documents between January 1994 and December 2002.
PLEASE NOTE These two letters from Sue Laver, Telstra’s General Counsel state all of my arbitration matters were resolved more than twenty years ago regardless of Ms Laver being in possession of documents which show many of my arbitration issues were NOT resolved during my arbitration. (See Open Letter File No/27)
The statements in the fax interception report (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13, show that a secondary fax machine was intercepting our faxes. One of the two technical consultants attesting to the validity of their findings in that January 1999 report wrote to me on 17 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 Hacking-Julian Assange File No/53)
Copyright © 2015 Alan Smith