Helen Coonan’s broken promise

Please note, Helen Coonan’s broken promise is currently being edited as of February 2021.

Senator Helen Coonan

Back in 2005, when Ann Garms, one of the original four COT Cases) was still a staunch member of the National Party of Queensland, a rookie National Party senator, Barnaby Joyce, won his Queensland seat from the One Nation Party. After having worked tirelessly to ensure that the Queensland National Party won that Senate seat, Ann then brokered a deal with the new senator, not just for herself, which would have been less oppressive for the Liberal-National Coalition Party, but for 13 other COT cases as well. Ann arranged for us all to meet the new senator, along with his advisor. The agreed deal was that, if the government wanted Senator Joyce’s most crucial vote in the Senate for the full privatisation legislation of the Telstra Corporation, then the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (Senator Helen Coonan) would have to agree to resolve all the still-unresolved COT/Telstra arbitration issues for all 14 members of COT.

Senator Barnaby Joyce

Senator Coonan and Senator Joyce formally agreed that this would go ahead and our claims would be reassessed under an independent commercial assessor as his letter to me dated 15 September 2005 noting:

“As you are aware, I met with a delegation of CoT representatives in Brisbane in July 2005. At this meeting I made an undertaking to assist the group in seeking Independent Commercial Loss Assessments relating to claims against Telstra.

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

“In response, I am pleased to inform you that the Minister has agreed there needs to be finality of outstanding CoT cases and related disputes. The Minister has advised she will appoint an independent assessor to review the status of outstanding claims and provided a basis for these to be resolved.

“I would like you to understand that I could only have achieved this positive outcome on your behalf if I voted for the Telstra privatisation legislation.” (see Senate Evidence File No 20)

Once Senator Joyce had cast that crucial vote, however (the one vote that was hanging in the balance), and had, therefore, made history for the Telstra Corporation and the Liberal-National Coalition Government, Senator Coonan reneged on her promise with a decisive back-flip, as many of the letters collected on this website so clearly shows.

On and around the date of 18 October 2005, a DCITA memo to Senator Helen Coonan stating:

  • “Senator Joyce has written to you seeking urgent advice on your proposed approach to the conduct of independent assessments of various claims against Telstra by customers or former customers or contractors of Telstra.
  • “We propose you ask the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to conduct the assessments. …
  • There is significant risk for the Government if expectations in relation to compensation are created among claimants that cannot be met by the Government.” (see Exhibit GS 422 file GS-CAV 410-A to 447).

Exhibit GS 423 file GS-CAV 410-A to 447 is an unsigned government memo from Senator Coonan’s office, received by the Cot cases during their FOI requests to the minister’s office regarding this assessment process.

“According to Minister’s understanding, assessor to:

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

“Possible Loopholes

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

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

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

Simon Bryant responds,

“I think Jodi be getting confused about what the assessment is meant to do (or at least what we are recommending) ie an assessment of process and what further resolution channels may be available to people. We are arguing strongly that the assessment should not be about the merits of each case.” Exhibit GS 424 file GS-CAV 410-A to 447)

QUESTIONS

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

More importantly, not only had Simon Bryant (a bureaucrat) NOT been elected by the people of Australia as was in the case of Senator Joyce, Mr Bryrant was deciding that the COT Cases claims would NOT be assessed on their merit as well as telling The Hon Senator Helen Coonan that the deal reached between Senator Joyce would NOT resolve or assess the merits of each of the COT Cases claims that Senator Barnaby Joyce was told would be.

On 21 December 2005, David Lever (DCITA) emails Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), John Pinnock.

“Subject: independent assessment of claims against Telstra

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

“The assessment will focus on process rather than the merits of claims, including whether all available dispute resolution mechanism have been used.” (See Exhibit GS 425 file GS-CAV 410-A to 447)

On 3 March 2006 (see Exhibit AS 320 file AS-CAV 282 to 323 I advised Mr Pinnock, that I am about to enter the minister’s independent assessment process and requires a number of documents held by the TIO.

As of 2021, I still haven’t seen the documents I requested on 3 March 2006 from John Pinnock or the 1994 arbitration documents I asked for during my pending arbitration appeal (see (AS-CAV 203) a letter dated 10 January 1996, from Mr Pinnock wrote to me which states:

“I do not propose to provide you with copies of any documents held by this office.” 

What this ten-year gap between 10 January 1996 and 3 March 2006 (the refusal to supply relevant documents to the COT Cases) clearly shows the TIO was NEVER impartial at any time during the COT debacle. 

Senator Barnaby Joyce – 

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

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

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

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

Senator Joyce was very disheartened the coalition government let down the COT cases once again. In an attempt to salvage something from this event, Senator Joyce agreed to the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) assessing the claims of any of the 14 COTs who were interested in being involved. 

Senator Helen Coonan advised Senator Joyce that if any of the 14 named cases in his original submission (which I was one of the 14) would accept the department as the assessors of their unresolved Telstra related arbitration mediation claims as a compromise by the government then this offer to settle our cases was still an option.

I was advised by Senator Joyce, that although the DCITA was not his first choice of assessors (as his letter of 15 September 2005 confirmed) this alternative remedy to have my matters finally resolved should be considered.

Government communications advisor Nikki Vajrabukka, DCITA, sent an internal email to David Lever, on 3 March 2006, advising she had emailed David Quilty (then Telstra’s government liaison officer) asking Telstra to assist in addressing my March 2006 DCITA submission that described how Telstra knowingly submitted three fundamentally flawed reports as official defence documents. (See Home Page Part Two Evidence File No/12-C) Sending this email is akin to asking a criminal if they should be charged in relation to crimes they have committed. 

This email from Nikki Vajrabukka, seems to demonstrate that public officials live in a different world to the rest of Australia: a world where there is no meaning to the term “conflict of interest”, nor respect for fellow Australian citizens. The final DCITA assessment on my submission found in favour of Telstra, and lo and behold, David Quilty ended up with a senior executive position in Telstra.

The Hon David Hawker

The Hon David Hawker, Speaker in the House of Representatives continued to assist me during my DCITA assessment process. 

On 10 March 2006, The Hon David Hawker writes to me

“I wish to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 23 February and 27 February along with your facsimile transmissions of 6 and 9 March. I will ensure this material, including the corrected version, is forwarded to Minister Coonan…” (See Exhibit GS 422 file GS-CAV 410-A to 447)

On 10 March 2006 after having received advice from Senator Joyce, that Senator Helen Coonan had agreed she would allow her DCITA assessors to investigate complaints of unlawful conduct towards the COT Cases by Telstra. I wrote to Liz Forman, acting general manager, DCITA, to clarify this fact. I had heard conflicting rumours that DCITA would not investigate Telstra’s unlawful conduct towards the COT cases. In this letter to Ms Foreman I note:

“Although you have stated in your letter that ‘…the assessment process will not extend to an examination of whether the law was broken by Telstra…’ I have been advised that it is mandatory, under Commonwealth law, for DCITA and/or the Minister to notify the Attorney General of any unlawful activities they may uncover during official department investigations.”(See Home Page Part Two Evidence File No/12-A)

On 17 March 2006, David Lever, manager, consumer section, telecommunications division responded to my previous letter to Liz Forman stating:

“Thank you for your letter of 10 March 2006 to Ms Forman concerning the independent assessment process. …

“If the material you have provided to the Department as part of the independent assessment process indicates that Telstra or its employees have committed criminal offences in connection with your arbitration, we will refer the matter to the relevant authority.” (See Home Page Part Two Evidence File No/12-B)

When I received this letter from Mr Lever, I informed the Hon David Hawker MP, (my local member of parliament) who was also Speaker of the House of Representatives that I was now submitting my DCITA Letter of claim which showed Telstra had committed crimes against me on several occasions during my arbitration titled > Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) letter of Claim March 2006.

COMMENTARY:

Attached to my independent DCITA 2006 assessment claim was evidence supporting:-

  1. the BCI tests, allegedly conducted at the Cape Bridgewater RCM, could not have been performed at the times and dates as shown in the report;
  2. that regardless of Telstra being advised by the Regulator that their SVT tests carried out at my premises were deficient, they still provided the arbitrator Sworn Testaments to the contrary;
  3. Telstra submitting fundamentally flawed laboratory findings (TF200) to the arbitrator;
  4. interception and privacy issues;
  5. the Ericsson CCS7 testing equipment could not operate at the same time as the Ericsson Neat Testing was underway on the same line, yet the arbitrator accepted they could; and
  6. the Ericsson AXE 104 Portland telephone exchange suffered from problems and faults right through and after my arbitration.
  7. senate page 5169 SENATE official Hansard) that the “COT Case Strategy” used by Telstra prior to and during our arbitrations spuriously advised Telstra how to conceal relevant technical documents from the first four COT Cases under Legal Professional Privileged even though the documents were not privileged.
  8. my name Alan Smith and my business Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp was one of the four cases singled out for this special unlawful treatment as TIO Evidence File No 3-A) so clearly shows.These were the same lawyers who not only drafted the COT Case Strategy (see Prologue Evidence File 1-A to 1-C) but also covertly drafted the arbitration agreement which was used during the first four arbitrations  (see exhibit 48-B in Open Letter File No/48-A to 48-D)

Worse, however, the day before the Senate committee uncovered this COT Strategy, they were also told under oath, on 24 June 1997 see:- pages 36 and 38 Senate – Parliament of Australia/from an ex-Telstra employee and then-Whistle-blower, Lindsay White, that, while he was assessing the relevance of the technical information which had been requested by the COT claimants, he advised the Committee that:

“In the first induction – and I was one of the early ones, and probably the earliest in the Freehill’s (Telstra’s Lawyers) area – there were five complaints. They were Garms, Gill and Smith, and Dawson and Schorer. My induction briefing was that we – we being Telecom – had to stop these people to stop the floodgates being opened.”

Senator O’Chee then asked Mr White – What, stop them reasonably or stop them at all costs – or what?”

Mr White responded by saying – The words used to me in the early days were we had to stop these people at all costs”.

Senator Schacht also asked Mr White – Can you tell me who, at the induction briefing, said ‘stopped at all costs”. (See Front Page Part One File No/6)

It is clear from Mr White’s statement he identified me as one of the five COT claimants that Telstra had singled out to be ‘stopped at all costs’ from proving their my against Telstra’.

I clearly pointed out in my March 2006 DCITA Letter of Claim that the named Peter Gamble on page 38 Senate – Parliament of Australia is the same Pete Gamble who swore under oath, in his witness statement to the arbitrator that the testing at my business premises had met all of AUSTEL’s specifications, when it is clear from Arbitrator File No/110 that Telstra’s own Customer Call Analysis System (CCAS) data for 29 September 1994 show NONE of the mandatorily required 20-tests calls to each of my service lines 055 267 267055 267230 and 055 267260 were generated into my business and held open for the required period of 120-seconds for each completed call. In simple words, the SVT process at my business was not carried out according to the government communications regulatory mandatory specifications. Telstra is fully aware Peter Gamble (on page 38 of this Hansard) received advice from AUSTEL, on 11 October and 16 November 1994, regarding the Service Verification Tests (SVT) being grossly deficient. AUSTEL demanded Telstra advise what it intended doing about this deficiency see Front Page Part One File/No 24-A to 24-B. No second SVT tests ever took place at my business during my arbitration. However, in November 2002 (eight months after I sold the business) Telstra tested the business for the new owners, concluded the wiring, cabling and the Telstra-installed infrastructure was corroded and the whole holiday camp was rewired.

How could the DCITA assessors miss this evidence? They could not have possibly done so.

My DCITA manuscript and the attachments accompanying it was personally supplied to The Hon Senator Helen Coonan by none other than The Hon David Hawker MP, Speaker in the House of representatives (GS-CAV 410-A to 447). In this manuscript submitted to the Hon Helen Coonan on my behalf by the Hon David Hawker MP, I showed this same Peter Gamble who somehow had the power to direct a Government Regulator regarding who they could release this known faulty SVT information to and who they could not release it to see Arbitrator File No/98 even though the Government Regulator (AUSTEL) knew that the inaccurate SVT results were being used to support Telstra’s arbitration defence of at least four COT Cases claims (which included me)

The named Peter Gamble, in this Senate Hansard is the same Peter who swore under oath, in his arbitration witness statement to the arbitrator that the SVT testing at my business premises had met all of AUSTEL’s specifications when AUSTEL secretly advised Mr Gamble on 11 October and 16 November 1994, his Service Verification Tests was grossly deficient (see Front Page Part One File/No 24-A to 24-B)

In response to AUSTEL’s 11 October and 16 November 1994 letter, this Peter replied in his own letter dated 28 November 1994 letter stating:

“As agreed at one of our recent meetings and as confirmed in your letter of 16th November 1994, attached please find the detailed Call Delivery Test information for the following customers.

“This information is supplied to Austel on a strict Telecom-in-Confidence basis for use in their Service Verification Test Review only and not for any other purpose. The information is not to be disclosed to any third party without the prior written consent of Telecom. (See Arbitrator File No/98)

I highlighted to the Hon Helen Coonan and her DCITA assessors (asking them as government ministers and government bueaucrats: by what legal authority could this Peter Gamble insist what the government regulator could or could not disclose to a third party, in this case, a claimant whose business was about to be destroyed because this Peter had not conducted the agreed to Service Verification Tests process according to the government mandatory requirements.  (see Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report)?

I again pointed out in my manuscript supplied to The Hon Helen Coonan and her DCITA assessors by the Hon David Hawker MP, in simple terms, when AUSTEL (the government communications regulator) acted in concert with this ‘Peter Gamble’ in order to coverup his deficient SVT Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp arbitration testing they too i.e.; the government regulator perverted the course of justice during a civil conducted arbitration and in doing severely disadvantaged me as a claimant in my arbitration process.

Australian Senate

On 19 April 2006 (during this DCITA fiasco), I wrote to the Hon Senator Helen Coonan, noting:

“In regard to my current claim, Mr Lever of DCITA had notified me that, if DCITA found I had proved that Telstra had carried out any unlawful acts during my arbitration, then the evidence would be provided to the relevant authority. Then, in a later telephone conversation with Mr Lever, I was told that he had not found any evidence in my claim to show that Telstra had perverted the course of justice.” (See Home Page Part Two Evidence File No/12-D)  

In my 29 April 2006 letter to the Hon David Hawker, Speaker in the House of Representatives notes:

Over the years however I have explained to you some of the problems I have encountered with faxes and emails that ‘go missing’ or arrive late or faulty. The apparent interference in my emails has now forced me to arrange for Ronda Fienberg, my Melbourne editing service to send emails out on my behalf, from her computer and email address, because emails often don’t arrive at their  correct destination when I attempt to send them from my emails address.’

 Please note the footnote in my letter from Ronda Fienberg states:

Mr Hawker, I feel obliged to add to the information Alan has provided here. I have run a small editing support business from my home since 1991 and first began assisting Alan in mid-1994. Until then I had never had a problem receiving or sending faxes for myself, or on behalf of my clients, to anywhere in the world, but I continually (still) have problems with Alan’s faxes which often come through with the words drawn out down the page and therefore unreadable, or with the page cut off half way down.

Since I first began to use email, in August 1998, I have also never had problems with emails, either sending or receiving, except for those gong to Alan. Emails that don’t get to him don’t ‘bounce’ as they would if I had attempted to send them to an incorrect email address, they simply vanish into the ether for days at a time, before finally finding him! I find it difficult to believe that this is all simple coincidences or that nothing can be done to either prove that someone is interfering in the transfer of faxes and emails between his office and mine, or to stop it occurring”  (See AS 574 file AS-CAV 542 to 588). 

On 24 May 2006, Senator Coonan responds to Hon David Hawker MP:-

“Mr Smith has indicated that he would like the terms of reference for the assessment to be wider, requiring the Department to make judgements about the fairness of the arbitration process undertaken by Dr Gordon Hughes, under the administration of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, in 1994. While this is understandable, it is not reasonable to expect the Department or indeed any other person at this point in time to make judgements about the circumstances surrounding Mr Smith’s arbitration. The terms of reference for the assessment are therefore more forward looking, aimed at identifying whether any further dispute resolution processes may be available to be pursued by claimants and Telstra in order to resolve their disputes.” (See Exhibit GS 455-b file GS-CAV 410-A to 447)

This statement by Senator Helen Coonan:-

Does not coincide with the commitment given by Senator Coonan’s advisor David Lever, 17th March 2006 to me, prior to my signing the agreement that:-

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

Neither Mr Lever nor Senator Helen Coonan insured a finding was made on the evidence I provided which confirmed Telstra or its employee’s had committed criminal offences in connection with my arbitration by providing two known Cape Bridgewater fundamentally flawed test reports to the arbitrator hearing my case.

After viewing the same two Cape Bridgewater test reports which Telstra had used as arbitration defence documents, Brian Hodge (B Tech, MBA, B.C. Telecommunications), on 27 July 2007, prepared a report. On page 22, he states:

“It is my opinion that the reports submitted to Austel on this testing program was [sic] flawed, erroneous, fictitious, fraudulent & fabricated, as it is clear that no such testing has taken place as Telstra’s own call charge system DOES NOT record any such activities. Therefore the results are flawed or did not occur.” (See Main Evidence File No 3)

Mr Hodges concluded Telstra fabricated their reports about the many ongoing telephone problems still affecting the holiday camp CAN as late as November 2006. Many of these problems were caused by moisture affecting both the copper-wire and optical fibre joints in the CAN. These problems were so bad that, in late 2006, Telstra actually had to disconnect the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp from the fibre network and return it back to the already-corroded copper-wire network (see Open Letter File No/23).

I clearly articulated in my DCITA claim that on 14 July 1998 (three years after my 1994/95 arbitration had been concluded I faxed the first two pages of this exhibit to the Deputy TIO.  The hand-written notes on these documents explain how, on 13/7/98, I had received two receipts faxed from Seiver’s Jewellers at the Crown Casino complex. My fax/telephone account, which was attached to that letter to the Deputy TIO, shows that I telephoned Seiver’s on 03 9654 5100 on 14 July 1998 at 09:05 am and spoke for 3 minutes and 16 seconds: during this conversation Seiver’s advised me that they certainly had not faxed these two receipts to a phone number with a prefix resembling my fax number: 55 267230 (Senate Evidence File No/55).

Senate Evidence File No/55is important because, on 14 January 1998, six months before these faxes arrived from Seiver’s, Telstra had sent two senior officers to meet with me at the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp.  My accountant/business adviser was present at this meeting to take the minutes and observe the process. These two executives made it quite clear that they were then in the process of negotiating with the TIO’s office regarding a proposed assessment of the incorrect and ongoing charging issues I had raised.  During this meeting I personally handed over three earlier examples of faxes I had also received from the Crown Complex: one was a birthday greeting to a Crown Representative, one was a list of food with a total value of $86.00 and the third was an immediate loan approval of $11,000.00 in cash to a Vietnamese resident staying in the Crown Casino Complex.  I believe that Victoria Police Major Fraud Group records will confirm this because, during one of the times I spent at their St Kilda Road offices, helping with their investigation into the Ann Garms case, I told them that I had given Telstra that fax information on 14 January 1998.

The Major Fraud Group had suspected for some time that Crown Casino was being used by the underworld for laundering dirty money into clean gambling chips. Was this an 11,000 cash loan to a Vietnamese resident staying in the Crown Casino Complex, part of the laundering process. 

I remember commenting to Barrister Neil Jepson that these faxes had arrived at my office from the Crown Complex at the very same time as Ann Garms was staying there, during the Supreme Court Hearing of her Telstra-related issues. I also provided Neil Jepson with documents showing that two out of seven faxes I had sent to William Hunt (a lawyer who had also helped Ms Garms with a separate matter during her Supreme Court action), never reached Mr Hunt’s (also my lawyer’s office).  All this information has since been provided to the TIO, the Prime Minister’s office, three NLP government ministers and the Australian Federal Police.

Later, on 12 October 2011, 23 March and again on 2 July 2012, I wrote to the Victorian State Attorney-General: those letters and attachments confirmed that, in 1998, in relation to Graham Schorer’s case (see Main Evidence File No 42 and Main Evidence File No 43), Telstra-related Supreme Court documents were intercepted after leaving the Owen Dixon Chambers legal centre en route to Graham’s office.  The Victorian Attorney-General’s response to each of those three letters simply stated that the Attorney General’s office cannot investigate fax interception issues (see Main Evidence File No 10)

Terrorist threats against Australian citizens and Australia’s national security did not really become a major concern until after September 2011 which raises a number of questions, including:

  1. Why were COT arbitration claim documents secretly scrutinized by the TIO-appointed Arbitration Resource Unit as far back as 1994, before the arbitrator or the claimants saw them?
  2. Why did the arbitrator allow this secret scrutiny when he knew the arbitration agreement had no reference to this as part of the process?
  3. When the second TIO became aware that his predecessor had brokered this secret deal with Telstra, why did he not immediately and transparently investigate this matter and advise the Communications Minister that this secret deal had denied the claimants their legal right to know what had been concealed from their arbitration process?
  4. Why has the TIO never been provided with an explanation for the four different faxes I received from four different locations within the Crown Casino Complex while Ms Garms was staying there during her Supreme Court action?
  5. Why has the Victorian State Attorney-General’s office refused to investigate these fax interception issues that confirm that this invasion of my privacy had continued for eight years, while I was in conflict with Telstra?

And still, my 2006 DCITA claim that faxes were still being intercepted seven years after my arbitration was not investigated by the minister’s office even though Senator Helen Coonan had promised they would be. Where had these faxes ended up?

5 June 2006 during this same failed DCITA assessment process my partner Cathy wrote to the Hon David Hawker, MP noting: 

I am writing to you to voice my current unease due to information Alan Smith has forwarded to the DCITA claim process. As you are aware our emails have been going missing throughout the above process.

Mail and faxes have gone missing at other times when the Telstra matters have been under scrutiny by various sources in the past. Our phones have also been monitored”. (See AS 575 file AS-CAV 542 to 588).

13 June 2006: The Hon David Hawker, MP responded to Cathy’s letter (see above) noting:

“Whilst I sympathise with your ongoing concerns relating to your phone, fax and email service, it is difficult for me to offer any fresh suggestions those we have already canvassed in previous letters.

As you would be aware there are avenues of recourse, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and in respect of your qualms about personal safety, the police”. (See AS 576 file AS-CAV 542 to 588).

In this 17 July 2006 letter to Senator Helen Coonan I note:

“I will not attempt to include all of the numerous other alarming incidents that have occurred in relation to my battle with Telstra, but you may be interested to know that when the Victoria Police Major Fraud Group were investigating my complaints between 1999 and 2001, I sent a number of faxes to the Police Barrister, Neil Jepson where on at least two occasions they did not reach his office even though Telstra included them on my subsequent bill, and my fax journal print-out shows they were sent successfully.   

Documented evidence now included in my current submission to the DCITA independent assessment confirms that other faxes sent from my office between 1994 and 2002 were still being intercepted by unknown parties, before they arrived at their intended destination”. (See Exhibit AS 615-B file AS-CAV 589 to 647).   

On 31 August 2006, David Hawker MP wrote to me noting:

‘Many thanks for keeping me informed. As requested, issues concerning privacy breaching have been raised with Senator Coonan’s office for your meeting with the Minister set for 6 September 2006″. (See Exhibit AS 578 file AS-CAV 542 to 588) 

On 6 September 2006, in Parliament House, Canberra, Senator Helen Coonan (for her own reasons) did not address my privacy issues which had been raised on my behalf by the Hon David Hawker MP. 

During the 6 September 2006, DCITA meeting, we asked Senator Helen Coonan to also consider two witness statements, dated 8 and 10 August 2006, referring to the 1999 and 2001 Major Fraud Group investigations: one statement was prepared by a government public servant/ex-police officer and the other by an ex very-senior Telstra protective officer (later promoted to the principal investigator). Both statements are discussed on our Absentjustice Preface page AFP Evidence File No 13. Members of the current government were provided with copies of these witness statements, without redactions. Sadly, the information in these two witness statements, to date, has not been acted upon.

The Telstra ex-senior protective service officer’s witness statement discusses a then still senior detective sergeant of the then Major Fraud Group, Victoria Police. The ex-police officer’s witness statement also describes the anguish experienced by the senior detective sergeant while he was investigating alleged fraud within Telstra during the COT arbitrations and the fears he had after being subjected to intimidation. Consider this: if this feeling of being got at by the Telstra Corporation can reduce a fully trained senior police officer to the condition Telstra’s ex-senior protective service officer alleged, just think how this continued and unaddressed harassment, by Telstra officials, left the COT cases during and after their government-endorsed arbitrations. NONE of us was ever offered to counsel or apologised to by the government, who still owned Telstra when this harassment commenced in 1992 (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1) and continued well past the Major Fraud Group investigations of 1998 and 2001.

Points 21 and 22 in the ex-senior protective service officer’s witness statement also record how, while he was a Telstra employee, he had cause to investigate“… suspected illegal interference to telephone lines at the Portland exchange” but, when he “… made inquiries by telephone back to Melbourne (he) was told not to get involved and that it was being handled by another area of Telstra” and that the Cape Bridgewater complainant was a part of the COT cases”.

I was the only ‘Cape Bridgewater complainant’ with a business in Cape Bridgewater. 

My lost arbitration-related faxed documents that never arrived at the arbitrator’s office in 1994/95, the Major Fraud Group (Victoria police) in 1999/2000 and now in 2006 to the DCITA (a government office) concerned both Senator Barnaby Joyce and the Hon David Hawker MP, Speaker in the House of Representatives.

The Hon David Hawker MP Speaker in the House of Representatives 

On 3 November 2006, Senator Helen Coonan wrote to David Hawker MP, stating:

“Thank you for your representation of 17 August 2006 on behalf of Mr Alan Smith regarding Mr Smith’s allegations that Telstra monitored his phone calls and emails during an arbitration process with Telstra. The interception of emails and monitoring of phone calls is an offence under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979. Mr Smith should consider his dispute through the dispute resolution bodies, including his State Office of Fair Trading, the Competition and Consumer Commission, the Australian Communications and Media Authority state, and the courts.”

Following the Hon Senator Helen Coonan’s advice, I contacted Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) through an advisor, who also assisted me in preparing a claim to be provided to a barrister for the CAV. From October 2007 through to late-2008, this un-named advisor, a once very high-ranking Victorian police officer and a recipient of the “Order of Australia’ had a number of discussions with this barrister, who then proceeded to assess the same claim documents that DCITA failed to investigate in 2006.

The barrister appeared overjoyed that I was able to provide evidence of faxes leaving the Sir Owen Dixon Chambers (the legal hub of Melbourne) being intercepted before they finally reached their intended destination. The barrister was also thrilled to hear that neither the TIO nor Telstra, ever returned to me the evidence I provided confirming faxes left the Crown casino complex arrived at my Cape Bridgewater business, even though they were not intended for me. Five years after the CAV came into possession of this evidence, it was returned to me in a state of disarray that seemed to me to indicate it had been investigated.  However, the CAV never provided a finding.

On 16 November 2006, Senator Joyce wrote to Senator Coonan:-

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

The resolution to the issue is referenced in your letter of 13th September 2005, where you state ‘I agree that there should be finality for all outstanding ‘COT’ cases and related disputes. I believe that the most effective way to deal with these is for me to appoint an independent assessor to review the status of all outstanding claims.’” (See Exhibit GS 426-a file GS-CAV 410-A to 447)

The Hon Senator Helen Coonan

On 17 May 2007, I received a letter from Senator Coonan, stating:

“I have now made both formal and informal representations to Telstra on behalf of the CoTs. However, Telstra’s position remains that this is a matter most appropriately dealt with through a Court process. Telstra is not prepared to undertake an alternate means of pursuing this matter. …

“I also appreciate the depth of feeling regarding the matter and suggest you consider whether court proceedings may be your ultimate option.” (See DCITA Evidence File 6)

Surely it was Senator Helen Coonan’s responsibility, as the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, to instigate an official enquiry into why Telstra continued to intercept in-confidence documents leaving either my office (or residence), the offices of various Senators and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office during and after the COT arbitrations? 

Why was it left open to a citizen of Australia to take Telstra to court for intercepting documents during and after their government-endorsed arbitration when the Scandrett & Associates report (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13), shows some of these faxes attached to that report had been intercepted leaving Parliament house and the Commonwealth Ombudsman office? 

DCITA Statement of Facts 

My DCITA 2006 submission (statement of facts and contentions) shows that on 14 January 1998 Telstra sent two officers to meet with me at the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp. My accountant/business adviser was present at this meeting to take the minutes and observe the process. These two executives made it quite clear that they were then negotiating with the TIO’s office regarding a proposed assessment of the incorrect ongoing billing issues associated with the 1800 free call and facsimile service lines which I had raised during and after my arbitration. During this meeting,  showed Telstra’s Lyn Chisholm and Phil Carless an example where a faxed document had arrived from the Crown Casino in Melbourne. This fax was obviously not intended for me and it was one of many I receive over many months, all from within the Crown Casino complex. Finally, I complained to the TIO in July 1998 and, although the TIO’s office never responded to my complaint, these faxes from the casino then stopped coming.  I have never been able to understand how these faxes, originating from the casino, reached my fax machine. Not one of them was addressed to a fax number remotely like mine; they were not even in a similar range.  In fact, most of the numbers the faxes were intended for were four hundred and fifty kilometres away. One of these faxes was an approval for the granting of a loan to a Mr Nugent who was staying in the Crown Hotel itself. Even though Lyn Chisholm took these faxes with her for evidence Telstra and/or the DCITA have never explained why this had happened. 

In my 2006 DCITA submission, I provided Exhibit AS 498 file AS-CAV 495 to 541 dated 22 January 1998, from the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, to John Pinnock (TIO), which was sent in relation to a meeting with Telstra’s Lyn Chisholm at my business premises on 14 January 1998, to discuss the 008/1800 billing problems that had continued to affect the viability of my business.  Ms Chisholm prepared the three file notes attached to the fax, which were prepared by Ms Chisholm as a record of the discussion she had with me on that day, support my claim that the 008/1800 problems had continued after the end of his arbitration. What is not right concerning these three pages prepared by Lyn Chisholm is, there is NO mention of the ongoing problems I was still experiencing when sending and receiving faxes.

Ms Chisholm could not explain how or why faxes ended up at my office, even though I pointed out that one of the members of COT, Ann Garms, was staying at the Crown Casino at the time because of her Telstra related Supreme Court (appeal) against the arbitrator Dr Hughes in which I was assisting Ann, from my Cape Bridgewater residence 450 kilometres away. 

Are the Crown Casino exhibits provided to Lyn Chisholm by me on 14 January 1998, related to the two Seiver’s Jewellers exhibits also from the Crown Casino complex which arrived six months after Ms Chisholm’s 14 January 1998 visit? When I mentioned this Crown Casino issue in my DCITA submission to the then-Senator Helen Coonan during my DCITA submission it was met with utter silence.

The Hon Senator Helen Coonan and the Senator’s Independent Assessors were provided Exhibit AS 639 file AS-CAV 589 to 647 headed Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts – Casualties of Telstra (COT) Background And Information For Ministers Office as a guide to the validity of the COT case issues including my previous arbitration and fax interception issues, but Exhibit AS-CAV 639 does not include what is attached to the various download exhibits on this website or shown in AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings that confirms the government communications regulator already found my claims validated before they pressed me to sign my government-endorsed arbitration agreement. Why was I forced to spend in excess of $200.000.00 (two-hundred thousand dollars) in arbitration fees trying to prove something the government had already proved in their AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings?

In other words, the DCITA report that the Department used to decide whether or not I had legitimate claims against Telstra was fundamentally flawed and should not have been used by the Department as a guide for the Government assessors.

Absentjustice-Introduction File 495, dated 22 September 1994, is a transcript taken during an oral interview at the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, with AUSTEL’s representatives Bruce Matthews and John McMahon. On page 7 of this manuscript the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s officer John Wynack, asked:What was the date the report was issued, the AUSTEL report’? And Mr Matthews replied: The final report was April – I can’t remember the date in April, but April 1994. The draft report was produced in March 1994 and Telecom received their copy of that at the time.’

In simple terms, by AUSTEL only providing Telstra with a copy of their AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings in March 1994, not only assisted Telstra during their defence of my 1994/95 arbitration it also assisted Telstra in my DCITA 2006 assessment process, when the government could only assess my claims on a sanitized report prepared by AUSTEL and released to the public and not their covert AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings.

I also reiterate, the Scandrett & Associates Pty Ltd report (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13) confirms a secondary fax machine, was installed in Telstra’s network during the arbitration process, which systematically intercepted numerous in-confidence COT related documents. This illegal interception of legal in-confidence documents should have been investigated during the arbitration processes when these illegal acts were first discovered. Senator Coonan, writing to me on 17 May 2007 – 12 years after the AFP declined to help me, and suggesting I take Telstra to court in relation to the same issues, just provides even further evidence of the undemocratic and uncaring way in which the COT cases have been treated by their elected government ministers.

The Australian public has a right to know: Telstra’s unlawful conduct towards Australian citizens was proved. Yet, government ministers and officials concealed those crimes from the public under Parliamentary Privilege and wrote to the victim advising the best way to find justice is to personally take the huge Telstra Corporation to court, despite official government regulatory reports, and Senate Hansard records (See > Eggleston, Sen Alan – Bishop, Sen Mark – Boswell, Sen Ronald – Carr, Sen Kim – Schacht, Sen Chris and Alston, Sen Richard showing at least six senators also believed Telstra was then during the COT arbitrations a law unto themselves.

Although I am certainly not about to criticise Ms Helen Coonan’s ability as a CEO or board member of any major corporation and neither do I want to infer that she is not one smart lady, but her actions in relation to her promised support of fourteen of the COT claimants do raise a number of important questions. 

I first met Ms Coonan on 6 September 2006, in Parliament House, in Canberra, back when she was an experienced Australian Senator and when it was about twelve months or so after she had convinced the then-still-gullible-Senator, Barnaby Joyce, to cast his crucial vote in the Senate so that the government could go ahead with their plans to privatise the Telstra Corporation.  Ms Coonan promised Mr Joyce, in return for his vote in support of that privatisation, that she would then ensure that all fourteen of the then-still unresolved COT Cases arbitration and mediation processes would be properly assessed by a totally independent assessor (see above).  

If the deal that Senators Joyce and Coonan had originally, agreed to had actually gone ahead, as Senator Coonan had promised, then, instead of the lives and businesses of the COT Cases and their families being ruined forever, all those lives would have been changed for the better. So what could possibly be worse than breaking a commitment to a fellow political colleague? Surely it would be allowing a parliamentary colleague (Mr Joyce) to cast his vote to ‘seal the deal’ and so help you (Ms Coonan) achieve your political aim: to make sure that that important vote has been formally cast: and then (and only then) to withdraw from your end of that deal. 

During 2007 and 2008, the COT Cases continued to remind Senator(s) Joyce and Coonan as to how betrayed they felt after this deal to resolve their outstanding Telstra issues had not been honoured. The Senator appeared to be most disturbed that these lost Telstra related documents were not dealt with by Senator Coonan. 

On 13 June 2008, Debra Denis, from the office of the Hon Senator Barnaby Joyce, wrote to me stating:

“Please be assured of Senator Joyce’s continued support for your endeavours to have your dispute resolved.” (See Bad Bureaucrats File No/21)

When it became evident that the new owners of my business along with me at my residence (next door) that we were both still losing faxes in December 2007, I sort documents from both Telstra and ACMA under FOI. This was to be my last attempt to resolve these long outstanding lost document issues which DCITA promised Senator Barnaby Joyce in 2005 (see above) they would investigate as part of my DCITA assessment process.  

Transcripts from my AAT hearings (respondents ACMA) on 3 October 2008 (No V2008/1836) and 26 May 2011 (No 2010/4634) show I maintained both my Freedom of Information applications to ACMA should be provided free of charge, in the public interest, including all of the requested information both Telstra and AUSTEL withheld during my government-endorsed arbitration process. Senior AAT member Mr G D Friedman considered both these AAT hearings and it is now apparent that Mr Friedman was unaware that the government solicitors (AGS) and ACMA based their defence of my claims on the inaccurate DCITA COT archival documents, including the sanitised public AUSTEL COT report released in April 1994. Neither document includes the true (and very adverse) findings that AUSTEL had originally reached in relation to Telstra’s dealings with me (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings).

“Let me just say, I don’t consider you, personally, to be frivolous or vexatious – far from it.

“I suppose all that remains for me to say, Mr Smith, is that you obviously are very tenacious and persistent in pursuing the – not this matter before me, but the whole – the whole question of what you see as a grave injustice, and I can only applaud people who have persistence and the determination to see things through when they believe it’s important enough.”

And, in 2008, Darren Lewis wrote to the Federal Magistrates Court stating:

“I was advised by Ms McCormick that the Federal Magistrates Court had only received on 5th December 2008 an affidavit prepared by Alan Smith dated 2 December 2008. PLEASE NOTE: I originally enclosed with Alan Smith’s affidavit in the (envelope) overnight mail the following documents:

  1. Two 29 page transparent s/comb bound report titled SVT & BCI – Federal Magistrates Court File No (P) MLG1229/2008 prepared by Alan Smith in support of my claims that I had inherited the ongoing telephone problems and faults when I purchased the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp
  2. Two s/comb transparent bound documents titled Exhibits 1 to 34
  3. Two s/comb transparent bound documents titled Exhibits 35 to 71 (the attached 71 Exhibits was enclosed in support of Alan Smith’s 29 page report);
  4. Three CD Disks which incorporated all of the submitted material.

“On learning from Ms McCormick that the information discussed above in points 1 to 4 had not been received by the Federal Magistrates Court I again had a stress attack seizure, a problem I have been suffering with for quite some time due to the predicament I now find myself in and the disbelief that once again my mail has been intercepted. I have attached herewith dated 3rd December 2008, a copy of the Australia Post overnight mail receipt docket numbers SV0750627 and SV0750626 confirming the total cost to send the above aforementioned information was $21.80. I am sure Australia Post would confirm that a large amount of documents would have been enclosed in these two envelopes when they left Portland.” (See My Story Evidence File 12-A to 12-B)

Australia Post will not charge any postage fee for an overnight parcel unless they stamp and retain it. Since neither of these parcels arrived at their proper destination with all of the information originally enclosed, those documents must, therefore, have been ‘lost’ between the Portland Post Office and the Magistrates Court.

As I have reported throughout this webpage numerous Telstra COT related arbitration documents (like those lost on route to the Federal Magistrates Court in December 2008) were also lost during 1994/95 on route to the arbitrator hearing my case.

As Darren’s letter shows, I helped him prepare these reports two in his bankruptcy appeal against the Australian Taxation Office (for back taxes) using my own evidence that the Telstra Corporation, knowingly submitted two false and fundamentally flawed Cape Bridgewater reports to the arbitrator during my arbitration, to deliberately mislead the arbitrator into believing that there were no more ongoing phone problems affecting my business.

The information above, confirms there was no investigation at all into my 2006 DCITA claim that my faxes were, then, still being intercepted, seven years after my arbitration was over, not by the minister’s office or by anyone else (even though Senator Coonan had promised that all the COT claims would be properly investigated).  This means that there is therefore no way to know where those intercepted faxes, that were intended for me, actually ended up.  Perhaps the Crown Casino faxes that arrived at my business, and possibly at other businesses as well, are somehow all related to Senator Coonan eventually being appointed to the Crown Board in 2011?  Could it be that some of those faxes that were initially intended for Crown, but which came to me instead (a serious problem that I raised with Senator Coonan’s office during my 2006 DCITA assessment process), eventually went with the Senator when she took up her position on the Crown board?

Eventually, in October 2015, I wrote again to Helen Coonan, as a board member of Crown, about this same COT/Crown/fax matter and, at the same time, I also wrote to James Packer, one of the major shareholders of Crown Casinos in Australia, noting how these issues seemed to be somehow connected. Isn’t it interesting to note that neither of them has ever responded?     

The following information at  https://www.afr.com/companies/games-and-wagering/the-men-who-made-helen-coonan-20210212-p57 confirms Helen Coonan knows how to win the game for the Establishment. 

The matters discussed on absentjustice.com are said in the public interest and therefore are made in accordance with the Victorian Defamation Act 2005 Defamation-division 1 Defamation and the general law see > www.legislation.vic.gov.au/Domino/Web-Note.

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