The Briefcase Affair

The Briefcase Affair was last edited October 2010

PLEASE NOTE: As of 28 October 2020, this The Briefcase Affair page is a work in progress and it will remain unchanged until at least mid-December 2020 because I am waiting on responses from a letter that has been sent to a number of interested parties, including two politicians, asking them to read through Chapter One below.

I am confident an independent person if appointed by these two politicians, would advise them it is wrong for the government to expect a 76-year-old person to tolerate the injustices these chapters show were committed against him during and after his government-endorsed arbitration.

Chapter One 

The truth surrounding the briefcase affair 

My constant complaints to Austel and my local member of parliament the Hon David Hawker MP, finally bore fruit when, for the first time in this story, Telstra investigators came to Cape Bridgewater. Dave Stockdale and Hugh Macintosh of Telstra’s National Network Investigation Division arrived at my office on 3 June 1993. At last, I thought, I would be able to speak directly to people who knew what they were talking about.

I should have known better. It was just another case of ‘No fault found.’ We spent some considerable time ‘dancing around’ a summary of my phone problems. Their best advice for me was to keep doing exactly what I had been doing since 1989, keeping a record of all my phone faults. I could have wept. Finally, they left.

A little while later, in my office I found that Aladdin had left behind his treasures: the Briefcase Saga was about to unfold i.e. Telstra had knowingly misled and deceived me during my first settlement on 11 December 1992 (See Front Page Part Two 2-B)

The briefcase was not locked, and I opened it to find out it belonged to Mr Macintosh. There was no phone number, so I was obliged to wait for business hours the next day to track him down. But what there was in the briefcase was a file titled ‘SMITH, CAPE BRIDGEWATER’. After five gruelling years fighting the evasive monolith of Telstra, being told various lies along the way, here was possibly the truth, from an inside perspective.

The first thing that rang bells was a document which revealed Telstra knew that the RVA fault they recorded in March 1992 had actually lasted for at least eight months — not the three weeks that was the basis of their settlement pay-out. Dated 24/7/92, and with my phone number in the top right corner, the document referred to my complaint that people ringing me get an RVA ‘service disconnected’ message with the ‘latest report’ dated 22/7/92 from Station Pier in Melbourne and a ‘similar fault reported’ on 17/03/92. The final sentence reads: ‘Network investigation should have been brought in as fault has gone on for 8 months.’

I copied this and some other documents from the file on my fax machine and faxed copies to Graham Schorer (Casualties of Telstra spokesperson). The next morning I telephoned the local Telstra office, and a Portland technician came out and picked the briefcase up.

Just the information in this document dated 24/7/92 was proof that senior Telstra management had deceived and misled me during negotiations with me and showed too that their guarantees that my phone system was up to network standard were made in the full knowledge that it was nowhere near ‘up to standard’.

Not only was Telstra’s area general manager fully aware at the time of my settlement on 11 December 1992 that she was providing me with incorrect information which influenced my judgement of the situation, placing me at a commercial disadvantage, but the General Manager, Commercial Victoria/Tasmania was also aware of this deception.

The use of misleading and deceptive conduct such as this in a commercial settlement such as mine contravenes Section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act. Yet this deception has never been officially addressed by any regulatory body. To get ahead of my story here, even the arbitrator who handed down his award on my case in May 1995 failed to question Telstra’s unethical behaviour concerning this most important matter.

I took this new information to Austel, and on 9 June 1993, Austel’s John MacMahon wrote to Telstra regarding my continuing phone faults after the settlement, and the alarming content of the briefcase documents: this letter states:

Further, he claims that Telecom documents (found in the briefcase) contain network investigation findings which are distinctly different from the advice which Telecom has given to the customer concerned.

In summary, these allegations, if true, would suggest that, in the context of the settlement, Mr Smith was provided with a misleading description of the situation as the basis for making his decision. They would also suggest that the other complainants identified in the folders have knowingly been provided with inaccurate information

I ask for your urgent comments on these allegations. You are asked to immediately provide AUSTEL with a copy of all the documentation which was apparently inadvertently left at Mr Smith’s premises for his inspection. In light of Mr Smith’s claims of continuing service difficulties, I will be seeking to determine with you a mechanism which will allow an objective measurement of any such difficulties to be made”.(See Arbitrator File No 61)

Not only was Telstra’s area general manager fully aware at the time of my settlement on 11 December 1992 that she was providing me with incorrect information which influenced my judgement of the situation, placing me at a commercial disadvantage, but the General Manager, Commercial Victoria/Tasmania was also aware of this deception.

The use of misleading and deceptive conduct such as this in a commercial settlement such as mine contravenes Section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act. Yet this deception has never been officially addressed by any regulatory body. To get ahead of this matter here, even the arbitrator who handed down his award on my case in May 1995 failed to question Telstra’s unethical behaviour during that 11 December 1992, settlement.

Forward to May 1995

In fact, if we move forward three years to my arbitration and quote from page 42 of Dr Hughes official arbitration award dated 11 May 1995 at point 7.14 he notes: 

(a) “In making an award of compensation, it is necessary for me to take into account the amount paid by Telecom to the claimant by way of settlement 11 December 1992. Particulars of this payment are set out in part 3.3 (a) of these Reasons. I have taken this payment into account. 

At the conclusion of point 3,3 (a) referred to by Dr Hughes he notes:

“As a consequence, Telecom does not consider it should be required to make any payment, beyond the settlement of 11 December 1992 the claimant.   

It is clear from the above AUSTEL 9 June 1993 letter that AUSTEL their believed Telstra knowingly mislead and deceived me during my original 11 December 1992 settlement referred to by Dr Hughes in point 3.3 and 7.14 in his award. In fact, AUSTEL notes in their 9 June 1993 letter to Telstra concerning this 11 December 1992 settlement issues that:

“In summary, these allegations, if true, would suggest that, in the context of the settlement, Mr Smith was provided with a misleading description of the situation as the basis for making his decision. They would also suggest that the other complainants identified in the folders have knowingly been provided with inaccurate information”.

AUSTEL (now ACMA) has since made it clear in their own findings that I was profoundly misled at this 11 December 1992 settlement. Of course, had the arbitrator been aware of AUSTEL’s findings on this matter he would never have made such a statement at point 3.3 (a) and point 7.14 in his award. It is equally clear that my 1995 award would (costs made in my favour) would have been far greater than it was had the truth of this settlement been known by the arbitrator.

I am sure that most people would be appalled at the content of the first five chapters in the Prologue link and the evidence that proves beyond any doubt that three TIO-appointed official arbitration personnel deliberately misled and deceived the then president of the Institute of Arbitrators Australia when he began to investigate my claims of misconduct.

Please read these five chapters on the Prologue page or appoint an independent person to do so on your behalf. I am sure they will advise you it is wrong for the government to expect a 76-year-old person to take these injustices committed against them to their grave.

Back to 1993

On the 12 July 1993, a newspaper article from the Portland Observer Newspaper is headed ‘Network Complaints Taken Up by MPs’, and notes:

“Problems highlighted by Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp operator Alan Smith, with the Telecom network have been picked up on by not only other disgruntled customers but Federal politicians. Having suffered a faulty telephone service for some five years, Mr Smith’s complaints had for some time fallen on deaf ears, but it now seems people are standing up and listening. Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, described the number of reports of faulty and inadequate telephone across Australia as alarming. Mr Hawker said that documents recently presented to him showed that the problems people had been experiencing Australia wide had been occurring repeatedly in the Portland region.” (See Cape Bridgewater Chronology of Events File No -17)

The pressure on all four of us COT cases was immense, with TV and newspaper interviews as well as our continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now but I continued to hammer for a change in rural telephone services. The Hon David Hawker MP, my local Federal member of parliament, had been corresponding with me since 26 July 1993.

“A number of people seem to be experiencing some or all of the problems which you have outlined to me. …

“I trust that your meeting tomorrow with Senators Alston and Boswell is a profitable one.” (See Arbitrator File No/76)

On 27 August 1993, Telstra’s corporate secretary (during the period he was a Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) board member) wrote to me about Telstra documents that were inadvertently left in a briefcase at my premises on 3 June 1993 (see Chapter Two Arbitrator / Part One), noting:

“Although there is nothing in these documents to cause Telecom any concern in respect of your case, the documents remain Telecom’s property and therefore are confidential to us. …

“I would also ask that you do not make this material available to anyone else.” (See Open Letter File No/2)

Telstra’s FOI document dated 23 August 1993 and labelled folio R09830, with the subject of ‘The Briefcase’, is alarming to say the least. This document, which was copied to Telstra’s corporate secretary, notes:

“Subsequently it was realised that the other papers could be significant and these were faxed to Craig Downing but appear not to have been supplied to Austel at this point.

“The loose papers on retrofit could be sensitive and copies of all papers have been sent to Ross Marshall.” (See Arbitrator File No 62)

Rural Automatic Exchange (RAX) 1987 to August 1991

AUSTEL’s sanitized public report in April 1994, provided to the communications minister The Hon Michael Lee MP, shows AUSTEL stated the telephone exchange at Cape Bridgewater, for the first three-and-a-half-year period I commenced running my business, was a modern ARK exchange – designed more than 20 years after the RAX exchange had been installed at Cape Bridgewater.

Joker One

The RAX exchange (which was unmanned) had only 8 final selectors shared between myself and the 130 residences of Cape Bridgewater. This false reporting by the Australian Communications Regulator and Telstra allowed Telstra’s witnesses (their local Portland technicians) to submit known false statements under oath concerning this service.  service provided by Telstra.

One particular Telstra witness statement sworn under oath by a Portland technician dated 12 December 1994 who we shall name as Joker One (see False Witness Statement File No 14) states:

“The Cape Bridgewater RAX exchange was fully equipped to handle 90 subscribers. At the time it was replaced with the Portland to Cape Bridgewater RCM systems it had 66 subscribers and therefore was not operating to its full capacity. Mr Smith is the only customer at Cape Bridgewater with a consistent complaint history” 

Whatever made this Telstra employee state the ‘RAX exchange was fully equipped to handle 90 subscribers’ when it is clear from government records Burying The Evidence File) that the Cape Bridgewater RAX exchange was very old technology designed in the 1950s [sic] for very low calling rate areas? for example (based on the unit having 8 Final Selectors) the maximum calls that could be handled at the same time irrespective of the number of services connected (of which were 66 in 1991).

If there were, say, four local to local calls in progressthen only four calls to local numbers could be handled from outside the area at the same time.

By 1991 the Cape Bridgewater RAX exchange serviced 66 homes.

Those 66 phone lines (subscribers) equated to at least two adults per house – 132 residents-plus children.  If four residents were using their phone service at the same time then there were only four lines available for the remaining 128 residents plus their children. And, over holiday periods and long weekends, the Cape Bridgewater population grew exponentially. Mobile phones could not be successfully used in Cape Bridgewater at the time this false statement was made. In August 1991, this RAX was replaced with an unmanned switching system called an RCM.

One of the Telstra technicians, whom I refer to below as Joker Three, and who was one of those who knowingly and deliberately misled and deceived the arbitrator during my arbitration, is a respected member of the Portland community in a position to often make decisions affecting Portland residents as well as the local council. This, I believe, puts me in a difficult situation: i.e., do I have a moral obligation to tell my Federal Member of Parliament about this man’s appalling past behaviour? Clearly, lying under oath in a formal litigation process, or at any other time for that matter, is not something that would meet the expected criteria for a person whose professional advice is often sought by others.

I have sat on this evidence for more than twenty years now, without publicly naming this Joker, or identifying any of the six other Telstra employees who also lied in their arbitration witness statements, even though, so far, none of those Australian citizens has come forward to explain why they lied as they did, during my arbitration.  Having clear proof of these types of crimes have taken a serious toll on both my partner’s health and mine, and we deserve to have some peace of mind in the years that are left. For this reason, I am, again, informing my local Member of Parliament, The Hon Dan Tehan MP, this time on 14 January 2019, of these still unaddressed arbitration issues. I hope this will prompt him to remind the government that it was at the persistence of his predecessor, The Hon David Hawker MP, The Hon Richard Alston (the then Shadow Minister for Communications) and the government communications regulator that I ventured down the path that has to lead me to where I am today.

Between April 1988 and through to my arbitration of 1994 and 1995, I continued to experience faults with my phone service, particularly call drop-outs when, part-way through a conversation, the line would simply go dead, and short duration rings when the phone would ring once or twice and then stop, with no-one there if we picked up the receiver. In October of 1992, Joker Three arranged for two testing machines (called ‘Elmi’ machines) to be installed, one at the local Cape Bridgewater exchange and the other at my office.

In the afternoon of 13 October 1992, I reported four calls dropping out, at 1.20, 1.40, 2.00 and 3.00, and an occasion when I had answered the phone to find a deadline. Despite the Elmi machines, the Telstra technicians found, as they had in so many instances before, no faults that they could detect. What was going on?

In June 1993, I obtained a bundle of Telstra related documents from AUSTEL, one of those documents was a hand-written file note stating,

“We had the Elmi disconnected at the RCM [unmanned telephone exchange] and were installing it at Mr Smith’s house and the CCAS showed no evidence of above [not receiving ring] 1.20, 1.40, 2.00 and 3.00.” (See My Story Evidence File 1)

This was simply not the case at all; I knew Joker Three was not installing it at my house at this time; it was already installed. So I asked Telstra to supply their Elmi print-outs from September–October 1992. Some weeks later a number of documents arrived, including tapes which show that the call drop-outs and dead lines that I had experienced appeared on Telstra’s Elmi tapes (see My Story Evidence File 2) as answered calls at approximately 1.30 pm and 3 pm.

I could not fathom why a local technician would state that the Elmi equipment was disconnected at the exchange and were installing it at my house when these two print-outs show that it was actually installed and operating at both locations, albeit incorrectly.

If Joker Three says that the file note in My Story Evidence File 1 is not his handwriting and that he knows nothing in regards to the information provided on this document, then some other Joker at the Portland telephone exchange misinformed Telstra management concerning my legitimate complaints.

At point 5.8 in the arbitrators award under the heading Faults Caused by Claimant”  the arbitrator notes: “A simple example is said to involve the claimant [me] leaving the phone off the hook”. At point 21 in the False Witness Statement File No 13-A), prepared by Joker Three when discussing this Elmi equipment on 8 September 1993 (twelve months later) he: “concluded that Mr Smith’s telephone had been off the hook”. 

I doubt that had the arbitrator been aware of Joker Three’s past history of lying about this Elmi machine whether he would have taken this witness statement into consideration when making his award.

A Telstra minute, dated 2 July 1992, concerning the Portland AXE telephone exchange states:

“Our local technicians believe that Mr Smith is correct in raising complaints about incoming callers to his number receiving a Recorded Voice Announcement saying that the number is disconnected.

“They believe that it is a problem that is occurring in increasing numbers as more and more customers are connected to AXE.” (See False Witness Statement File No 3-A)

This one Telstra minute, dated 2 July 1992, (on its own) shows what a liar Joker Three is. 

Joker Two

The author of this AXE document, whom I have named Joker Two, like Joker Three also signed an arbitration witness statement, dated 12 December 1994, which told a completely different story to what he and Joker Three knew about the Portland AXE exchange. In his witness statement, he states, “I had perceived problems” but then says he had not observed any deficiencies in the service provided by Telstra. Yet it is clear from the AXE document that this is not the case.

To further support my claims that Telstra already knew my phone complaints were valid can best be viewed by reading Folios C04007 and C04008, headed TELECOM SECRET (see Front Page Part Two 2-B) states:

“Legal position – Mr Smith’s service problems were network related and spanned a period of 3-4 years. Hence Telecom’s position of legal liability was covered by a number of different acts and regulations. … In my opinion Alan Smith’s case was not a good one to test Section 8 for any previous immunities – given his evidence and claims. I do not believe it would be in Telecom’s interest to have this case go to court.

“Overall, Mr Smith’s telephone service had suffered from a poor grade of network performance over a period of several years; with some difficulty to detect exchange problems in the last 8 months.”

Why hasn’t the Australian government demanded answers from Telstra management as to why Joker Two and Joker Three, have not been made to account for their unlawful conduct?

It is clear from much of the information supplied by David Hawker, MP, to me in 1993 and 1994, that many people as far away as Penshurst, Apsley, Hamilton, Timboon, Victoria Valley and through to Portland were complaining to him about the phone problems in his electorate. The Hon Mr Hawker was passing on many of those complaints to me for the COT cases to take to Parliament House, Canberra, in our pursuit to have the Senate investigate why so many rural south-west citizens were experiencing the same problems as my business (see Introduction File No/11-E).

Testimonials  

A letter dated 6 April 1993, from Cathy Lindsey, Coordinator of the Haddon & District Community House Ballarat (Victoria) to the Editor of Melbourne’s Herald-Sun, read:

“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald-Sun (2nd April 1993) about phone difficulties experienced by businesses.

I wish to confirm that I have had problems trying to contact Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp over the past 2 years.

I also experienced problems while trying to organise our family camp for September this year. On numerous occasions I have rung from both this business number 053 424 675 and also my home number and received no response – a dead line.

I rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported this incident to Telstra who got the same noise when testing.”

(Because of a number of reports regarding this ‘piercing noise’, Ray Morris from Telstra’s Country Division arranged to have my service switched to another system.” (See My Story Evidence File 10-B)

The pressure on all four of us COT cases was immense, with TV and newspaper interviews as well as our continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now but I continued to hammer for a change in rural telephone services. The Hon David Hawker MP had been corresponding with me since 26 July 1993.

“A number of people seem to be experiencing some or all of the problems which you have outlined to me. …

“I trust that your meeting tomorrow with Senators Alston and Boswell is a profitable one.” (See Arbitrator File No/76)

On 18 August 1993 The Hon David Hawker MP again wrote to me, noting:

“Further to your conversations with my electorate staff last week and today I am enclosing a copy of the correspondence I have received from Mr Harvey Parker, Group Managing Director of Commercial and Consumer division of Telecom.

“I wrote to him outlining the problems of a number of Telecom customers in the Western Districts, including the extensive problems you have been experiencing.” (See Arbitrator File No/77 and Arbitrator File No/82)

Comments made from the Herald Sun newspaper dated 30 August 1993, confirm just how damaging some of these newspaper articles were to my already ailing business with statements like:

“The Royal Children’s Hospital has told a holiday camp operators in Portland that it cannot send chronically ill children there because of Telecom’s poor phone service. The hospital has banned trips after fears that the children’s lives could be at risk in a medical emergency if the telephone service to the Portland camp continued to malfunction”.

The centre’s stand follows letters from schools, community groups, companies and individuals who have complained about the phone service at Portland’s Cape Bridgewater Holiday camp.”

Youths from the Royal Children’s Centre for Adolescent Health, who were suffering from “chronic illnesses”, visited the camp earlier this year.   

Group leader Ms Louise Rolls said in a letter to the camp the faulty phones had endangered lives and the hospital would not return to the camp unless the phone service could be guaranteed”

Five years after this article was released, Helen Handbury (sister to Rupert Murdoch), who then owned and still owns the Herald Sun visited the holiday camp). Helen’s remarks about my story, after reading the first draft can be viewed by clicking on to the following Australian Federal Police Investigations-link and scrolling down to Chapter Four.

Regardless of the negative effects that some of these newspaper articles were having on the well-being of my business, particularly when they were combined with various damaging comments from customers, such as: “… the faulty phones had endangered lives and the hospital would not return to the camp unless the phone service could be guaranteed”, I kept focused on what COT was pushing for: a Senate Inquiry into Telstra’s unethical treatment of our small group of legitimate claimants.

A further letter of support for the Senate Inquiry from a worker at D. Madden & Co of Warrnambool (Lawyers), dated 10/11/93, gave added heart to my decision to fight on. (My name had been passed to Madden & Co by The Hon David Hawker, with regard to a public meeting COT was organising.)

“I am writing in reference to the proposed Senate Committee Investigation into Telstra.

As you are aware, I am employed as a telephonist with a large legal firm in Warrnambool. In the course of my employment, and particularly during the months of July and August this year, numerous service faults have been brought to my attention. These problems include:

  1. Calls being disconnected during conversation.
  2. Recorded messages informing Melbourne clients and callers that the number has been disconnected when the correct number was dialled.
  3. An engaged signal received by callers despite a number of lines being available.
  4. Complaints from callers that the line has rung out when no ringing tone has been received at the number dialled.

Our firm duly contacted Telstra on a number of occasions in an effort to have these fault rectified. However, Telstra technicians were constantly unable to identify the numerous problems and subsequently remedy our complaints.”

Rural subscribers wrote to TV stations and newspapers supporting my allegations that, with regard to telephone services, rural small-business people, as well as the general public, suffered a very bumpy playing field compared to our city cousins. David M. Thomson & Associates, Insurance Loss Adjusters in Ballarat, wrote to the producer of Channel 7’s ‘Real Life’, a current affairs program:

“I have watched with interest the shorts leading up to tonight’s program as I have similar problems to the man at Cape Bridgewater.

Our office is located in Ballarat and due to Telstra structure the majority of our local calls are STD-fee based.

On many occasions we have been unable to get through to numbers we have dialled, often receiving the message ‘This number is not connected’ or similar messages which we know to be untrue.

Clients report that they often receive the engaged signal when calling us and a review of the office reveals that at least one of our lines was free at the relevant time.

We have just received our latest Telstra bill which in total is up about 25–30% on the last bill. This is odd because our work load in the billing period was down by about 25% and we have one staff member less than the previous billing period.”

The Hon David Hawker MP

On 9 December 1993, The Hon David Hawker wrote to thank me for:

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.” (See Arbitrator File No/82)

This was very affirming, as was another letter, dated 9 December 1993, from The Hon David Beddall, MP, Minister for Communications in the Labor Government, to Senator Michael Baume, senator for New South Wales, that says:

“Let me say that the Government is most concerned at allegations that Telecom has not been maintaining telecommunications service quality at appropriate levels. I accept that in a number of cases, including Mr Smith’s there has been great personal and financial distress  This [sic] is of great concern to me and a full investigation of the facts is clearly warranted.” (See Arbitrator File No/82)

A Portland Telstra technician, whom I have named Joker Seven, experienced major problems during his official fax-testing process of my service on 29 October 1993, nevertheless he advised the arbitrator that there was no problem with that service, despite what the following Telstra document shows:

Joker Seven

“During testing the Mitsubishi fax machine, some alarming patterns of behaviour were noted, these affecting both transmission and reception. Even on calls that were not tampered with the fax machine displayed signs of locking up and behaving in a manner not in accordance with the relevant CCITT Group 3 fax rules. … Even if the page was sent upside down the time and date and company name should have still appeared on the top of the page, it wasn’t. During a received call the machine failed to respond at the end of the page even though it had received the entire page (sample #3).” (See False Witness Statement No 7-A)

Didn’t this local Telstra technician understand that lying under oath in his witness statements assisted Telstra to conceal from the government and the arbitrator how bad the phone system really was in his hometown of Portland? Did he not understand that hindering my chances of getting a fair hearing in the arbitration also hurt his own family and friends, who were also residents of our region?

Joker Seven, new I was a volunteer for the Cape Bridgewater Country Fire Authority (CFA). Chapter Seventeen in https://www.absentjustice.com/?page_id=33052), shows that during my arbitration Telstra twisted the reason I could not be present for the testing of my TF200 telephone at my premises on a scheduled meeting on the morning of 27 April 1994. Telstra only reported in their file notes (later submitted to the arbitrator) that I refused to allow Telstra to test the phones because I was tired. There was no mention in these file notes that I advised the fault response unit that I had been fighting an out-of-control fire for 14 hours or that my sore eyes made it impossible to observe such testing by Telstra. I fought the fire from 6pm to 9am.

Also on Tampering With Evidence it shows that not only did Telstra set out to discredit me by implying I was just too tired to have my TF200 phone tested, but after Telstra removed the phone, it was tampered with before it arrived at Telstra’s Melbourne laboratories: someone from Telstra poured beer into the phone. Telstra then alleged, in its arbitration defence report, that sticky beer was the cause of the phone’s ongoing lock-up problems, not the Cape Bridgewater network. This one wicked deed, along with the threats I received from Telstra during my arbitration, is testament that my claims should have been investigated years ago.

So, even though I carried out my civic duties as an Australian citizen, over and beyond by supplying vital evidence to the AFP, as well as fighting out-of-control fires, I was still penalised on both those occasions during my arbitration.

Joker Seven has still not come forward and advised the arbitration process what he knows really happened on this particular day, on the 27 April 1994.

The cover-up continues

This internal Telstra document discusses the errors experienced at the Cape Bridgewater unmanned exchange, at least up to July 1991, and states:

“When the ‘A’ direction of system 2 was initially tested, approximately 11000 errors per hour were measured. In the ‘B’ direction, approximately 216 errors per hour were measured, 72 errors per hour is the specified number allowable.” (See Main Evidence File No 22)

False Witness Statement File No 13-B), dated July 1993, clearly shows Telstra continued to experience degraded errored seconds and minutes in the newly installed exchange at Cape Bridgewater. Worse, even though this new RCM exchange was installed in August 1991, Telstra did not realise it hadn’t connected the fault alarm system, from the main Portland manned exchange to this unmanned Cape Bridgewater exchange (18kms from Portland), until March 1993 (18 months later)! This March 1993 document reports the following:

“Initial error counter readings, Portland to Cape Bridgewater direction”:
  System 1 System 2 System 3
SES 0 0 0
DM 45993 3342 2
ES 65535 65535 87
 

“At this stage we had no idea over what period of time these errors had accumulated.

  • the alarm system on all three RCM systems had not been programmed. This would have prevented any local alarms being extended back to Portland.”
Joker Three

This False Witness Statement File No 13-A), signed by Joker Three, is possibly the worst example of Telstra employees swearing under oath to something they knew was a lie. At point 9 in this document the author states:

“I checked the CRC error counters regularly between the date the RCM systems were installed and February 1994 when I left Telecom. Checking the CRC counters in this way was a normal maintenance practice. I can recall checking the CRC counters prior to March 1993. When I checked the CRC counters pre March 1993 I did not observe any errors that could have impacted upon the telephone service provided to Cape Bridgewater customers. A typical reading for each RCM system was 5 to 10 errored seconds, no degraded minutes and no severely errored seconds. I regularly checked the CRC counters for possible faults particularly when Mr Smith reported complaints.”

At point 27 in this same False Witness Statement File No 13-A, Joker Three officially advises the arbitrator “The standard of service provided to Mr Smith was entirely consistent to be a very good level of service provided to other rural customers.”

This point 27 statement does NOT match False Witness Statement File No 13-B or the many statements made by the government communications regulator in its own AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings,

In particular, at point 212, AUSTEL notes:

“In view of the continuing nature of the fault reports and the level of testing undertaken by Telecom doubts are raised on the capability of the testing regime to locate the causes of faults being reported.”

This statement suggests the government communications regulator believed my phone problems would not be located.

Had Telstra’s management conveyed to the arbitrator that AUSTEL had doubtson the capability of the testing regime to locate the causes of faults being reported”, then the arbitrator’s award would have had to allow provisions for me to further claim against Telstra once the fault causes were located and fixed.

Cape Nelson – Portland Lighthouse

It is also clear from AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, at point 209, which states, “Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp has a history of service difficulties dating back to 1988. Although most of the documentation dates from 1991 it is apparent that the camp has had ongoing service difficulties for the past six years which has impacted on its business operations causing losses and erosion of customer base,” that the government’s own findings prove that Joker Three knowingly lied under oath.

Portland/Cape Bridgewater logbook

At Point 25 in his False Witness Statement File No 13-B Joker Three notes

“During the period that I was maintaining the Portland exchange my file containing details relating to Mr Smith’s service complaints was a similar size to my file for the other 7000 odd subscribers connected directly to the Portland exchange”. 

Between February 1994 and April 1995, I tried, a number of times, to get my hands on the original version of the Portland/Cape Bridgewater logbook, and so did the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, on my behalf; we were both unsuccessful.  This logbook was particularly important because it would have included information recorded by ‘Joker Three’ in relation to all the faults I had registered with the exchange, as well as the faults registered by the other 7,000-odd subscribers connected directly to the Portland exchange’.  Neither the arbitrator (Dr Hughes) nor Telstra’s CEO (Frank Blount) would, however, agree to access this very important document (and/or documents). I also requested this information under the official, legal discovery process but didn’t even receive a response from the arbitrator. Even Telstra’s own Senior Protective Services Officer claimed in his witness statement that he could not locate this log book (see Main Evidence File No 30).

Joker Five

Portland Tourist Information Centre

It is important we conclude these falsehoods by combining AUSTEL’s letters to Telstra dated 6 January, 27 January and 4 October 1994 (see False Witness Statement Files 15-B to 15-F) because these show AUSTEL knew there were many problems affecting a number of other Portland and Cape Bridgewater Telstra customers.

AUSTEL’s 27 January 1994 letter to Telstra’s Steve Black (see File 15-C) states:

“You are probably aware of Mr Smith’s ongoing complaints as to the efficacy of his 008 service – he maintains that many callers receive a RVA advising that the number is no longer connected.”

“Further to that point is the experience of the Portland Tourist Information Centre which is now complaining of precisely the same problem. It is understood that these issues gained prominence after considerable incidences of problems from various points throughout Australia following a nation-wide promotion of south western Victoria. A copy of a fax from the Centre is attached. You may wish to consider this issue further.

Joker Three and Joker Seven have been prominent identities in Portland over the past twenty-years, advising interested parties on a number of issues. This suggests they have never really understood the damage their misleading and deceptive statements caused, not just to me but to others in the Portland region. Had the arbitrator full knowledge that my complaints of ongoing problems were real, and not a figment of my imagination, this may well have prompted him to have these complaints investigated by an impartial entity instead of Telstra, who were, after all, the defendants in my government-endorsed arbitration. NO testing of my service was undertaken by anyone other than Telstra during my arbitration.

It is important to note that at this point of time in April 1994, when my Government-endorsed arbitration process with Telstra was finally being conducted, I was not aware (and I was not informed in any way) that this same Mr Jim Holmes, who was still Telstra’s Corporate Secretary, would be allowed to attend all the TIO Board meetings that were held while both my arbitration and the arbitrations of my fellow COT Cases were still underway.  Furthermore, Senate Hansard records dated 26 September 1997, on pages 109 to 110 (see Senate – Parliament of Australia), show that Mr Holmes was not the only Telstra executive who was allowed to attend TIO Board and Counsel meetings while COT arbitration issues were discussed.

Then, even though I made many FOI requests during my arbitration with Telstra, I was never provided with any documents that would have warned either me or the arbitrator that those ‘missing’, more-sensitive documents that were originally in the briefcase that had been left at my premises, and that Telstra had withheld from AUSTEL more than a year earlier, had never been produced either. If the document now available at Arbitrator File No 62  HAD been provided, as it should have been, under the discovery process of the COT arbitrations, then the arbitrator’s findings, and the amount he calculated for my award, would have been considerably more in my favour.

During the last four months of 1994, as my arbitration continued, it became evident to AUSTEL that Telstra had, once again, also misled and deceived AUSTEL concerning the ongoing billing issues that were still affecting my business.  This led to AUSTEL asking for my help to decipher Telstra’s billing information.  I willingly did so as I had done before since June 1993 believing by helping AUSTEL (the government) I was also helping myself. WRONG once again as I had been wrong when I assisted the Australian Federal Police during their own investigations into Telstra’s unauthorized interception of my telephone conversations and faxes (see page 180 ERC&A Senate Evidence File No 31, and Australian Federal Police Investigations).

Then, on 19 December 1995, seven months after Dr Hughes (the arbitrator) had also failed to address these same ongoing billing issues during my arbitration, and after Dr Hughes had handed down his findings in relation to that arbitration (on 11 May 1995), even though his findings did not mention that AUSTEL had twice written to him about these same ongoing billing problems, AUSTEL once again asked for my help to decipher Telstra’s billing information that had still not been addressed, even though it was provided to Dr Hughes on 15 June 1994, and even though AUSTEL had written to Dr Hughes – twice – in December 1994, asking him to confirm that I had raised these billing issues, which the Government recognised were of public interest, yet still they were never addressed during my arbitration.

When AUSTEL (the government) became aware Telstra and Dr Hughes did not address these ongoing billing issues as part of AUSTEL’s facilitated arbitration process, it once again asked me to officially provide the unaddressed arbitration documents, in the public interest, which I did. (See Absent Justice Part (3)/Chapter Fourteen) I also advised AUSTEL that although DMR Corporate Inc, a Canadian company the TIO brought in to investigate these matters, wanted to address these claims as part of its terms of reference, in April 1995, the arbitrator Dr Hughes refused to allow DMR the extra weeks required to value these billing documents (see Prologue/ Chapter One). Even though DMR Inc (Canada) and the Australian communications company assisting (Lane Australia) officially advised Dr Hughes the causes of the ongoing billing issues affecting my business were not diagnosed and therefore that part of my claim would remain open, Dr Hughes still did not allow this investigation into these faults, regardless of AUSTEL’s previous letters to him on these same matters. (See Prologue/Chapter one)

So concerned at these events that were now unfolding in full view of my failed arbitration process an AUSTEL representative drove the five-hour trip from Melbourne to my Cape Bridgewater business, collected seven bound volumes of evidence that had not been investigated, and took them all back to AUSTEL’s offices in Melbourne.  Even though each of those volumes of evidence was approximately two inches thick, and so there was, therefore, a huge amount of reading required, the AUSTEL representative eventually reported, internally, that my claims were valid (see Absent Justice Part (3)/Chapter Fourteen).

Transcripts from my 3 October 2008 Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) Hearing (No V2008/1836 with ACMA as the Respondents) record that, at that time, I maintained that my Freedom of Information applications to ACMA should be provided free of charge, in the public interest, and the provision of those documents should include all of the requested information that both Telstra and AUSTEL had withheld from me during my 1994/95 Government-endorsed arbitration process. 

For more than two decades the government and their highly paid minders have branded me a vexatious litigant and my claims as frivolous regardless of Senior AAT Member, Mr Friedman, who presided over my AAT Hearing, noted:

“… I do not consider you, personally, to be frivolous or vexatious – far from it. (and …)

“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.”

The more sensitive material which had originally been in the above-aforementioned briefcase, which was still extremely relevant to my case, and which Telstra did finally provide to AUSTEL once Telstra had become a public company in 2006 was, however, never provided to me by AUSTEL/ACMA, not even as part of my AAT Hearing and even though Mr Friedman had suggested to ACMA that this should be the case.  In fact, not even after my arbitration had been labelled as ‘complete’!  I believe that these documents were withheld from me because of how important they would be if I was ever to win an appeal against the overall conduct of my Government-endorsed arbitration,

Chapter Two 

Yet to be edited and formulated 

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