As we have already explained on the front page of Absentjustice.com all of the main events as quoted on this website are supported by copies of the original documents (confirmation data) which are linked in the text: for example, CAV Part 1, 2 and or Summary of events. Clicking on these links with your cursor will automatically open a PDF of the exhibit. By using this method and following the various file nos discussed in our various pages, you will be able to verify our story.
The governments own August 1993 to March 1994 investigation into why my ongoing telephone problems were not fixed part of the agreed-to April 1994 arbitration endorsed by the government that the process would investigate and fix my ongoing telephone/faxing problems has led to a rather amazing discovery: the Government communications regulator, AUSTEL (now ACMA) had uncovered historical records from back then of major telecommunication problems in both the Portland/Cape Bridgewater and Ballarat regions, in Victoria (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings). As it has turned out after living in Portland for thirty-three years, Ballarat is where I moved to in 2019.
On 3 June 1993, because of my constant complaints to the AUSTEL, including incorrect charging for calls never made or received on my 008/1800 free call service, Telstra’s national network investigators (a department with Telstra) was finally involved and, for the very first time, were sent to my business at Cape Bridgewater. At last, I thought, I would be able to speak directly to people who knew what they were talking about and find the underlying cause of the issue. However, the two Telstra senior technicians from Melbourne told me nothing I hadn’t heard before. With nothing resolved, they finally prepared to leave and head back to town.
My own transport was, by this time, long gone; sold to pay some of my mounting debts, and I also needed to go into Portland. The technicians offered me a lift. After spending some time in Portland I got a lift back to Cape Bridgewater with a neighbour. In my office, I found that one of the technicians had inadvertently left behind a briefcase. I opened the briefcase to find out who owned it and the first thing I saw was a file titled SMITH, CAPE BRIDGEWATER. After five gruelling years fighting with Telstra and being told various lies along the way, here was possibly the truth, as seen from Telstra’s perspective. Some of the documents in this file were much too technical for me to interpret. Some that I could decipher, however, dated back to the compensation payment I received on 11 December 1992. I copied the Smith, Cape Bridgewater file which later provided to AUSTEL
The important documents left in that briefcase provided evidence that discussed the manner in which they settled with me in December 1992. Telstra had known that major faults still existed in their network at the time of the settlement (see Main Evidence File No 26) but they did not disclose this to me during the settlement process. The documents quickly exposed that Telstra was fully aware of their inadequate service and the major communication problems that were affecting the viability of my business endeavours.
One particular document labelled Problem 1 shocked me. It referred to Telstra being aware that one of my major faults (a recoding telling callers to my business I was no longer connected to Telstra’s network) had actually lasted for eight months, not the alleged three weeks that I’d been told on the day I accepted my compensation payment. (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings).
The too technical information in the briefcase for me to interpret at the time when it was interpreted by AUSTEL (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings) Telstra had not only been lying to me as one of their customers they had been lying to AUSTEL, the government and the citizens of Australia concerning just how bad their network really was (see Summary of events).
It needs to be remembered too that much of the business income that I lost in connection to my social and single club setup, was directly related to my then-ongoing telephone free-call 008/1800 service problems and, coincidentally, many of the social club patrons who had been unable to get through to me on the phone (which meant, of course, that they couldn’t book in), came from Ballarat, Melbourne and South Australia.
On one of these many occasions, AUSTEL took up an investigation, on my behalf, and that revealed a problem I had raised with Telstra, in the past, in relation to Ballarat’s telephone public phone system, a problem that had, until then, lasted for more than two years and, as AUSTEL actually states at point 115 in their Adverse Findings), if it had not been for my persistence in demanding that Telstra investigate my complaints about Ballarat’s telephone system (even though I wasn’t even living there then), this fault, that turned out to be a problem in Telstra’s public phone system, would have continued to affect the Ballarat region long after the two years it had already existed in the network.
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.” (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 for the Ballarat and south-west Victoria region. The Hon David Hawker MP, my local Federal member of parliament, had also been corresponding with me since 26 July 1993, regarding the same problems being experienced by Telstra customers in those two regions.
“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)
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)
Between 1990 and 2001 (eleven years) I continued to sponsor underprivileged groups from the Ballarat, south-west Victoria, and the western suburbs of Melbourne to stay at the camp during the weeks that the venue was not fully booked out.
The holiday Camp could sleep around 90 to 100 persons in fourteen cabins. I arranged sponsored food purchases through the generosity of a number of commercial food outlets and these groups then just used the camp facilities — it didn’t actually cost me anything other than a small amount of electricity and gas. At one point around this time, May 1992, I had organised a charity week for kids from Ballarat and the South West, including Warrnambool, Hamilton and Portland. This group was organised by Sister Maureen Burke IBVM, the Principal of Loreto College in Ballarat, and I am sure she would not be offended to know that I think of her as the ‘mother’ of the project.
Arrangements regarding food, transport, and any special needs the children might have, had to be handled over the phone, and of course, Sister Burke had enormous problems making phone contact, Calls were either ringing out or she was getting a dead line or a message that the number she was ringing was not connected to the Telstra network. Sister Burke knew otherwise. On two particular occasions in 1992, after trying in vain all through one week, she decided to drive the 3½ hours to make the final arrangements for those camps.
Twelve months later, in March of 1993, Sister Karen Donnellon, also from Loreto College, tried to make contact to arrange an annual camp. Sister Donnellon later wrote:
“During a one week period in March of this year I attempted to contact Mr Alan Smith at Bridgewater Camp. In that time I tried many times to phone through.
Each time I dialled I was met with a line that was blank. Even after several re-dials there was no response. I then began to vary the times of calling but it made no difference.”
Some years later, I sent Sister Burke an early draft of my manuscript Absent Justice My Story‘ concerning my valiant attempt to run a telephone dependent business without a dependent phone service. Sister Burke wrote back,
“Only I know from personal experience that your story is true, otherwise I would find it difficult to believe. I was amazed and impressed with the thorough, detailed work you have done in your efforts to find justice” (See Senate Evidence File No 43).
Of course, Sister Maureen Burke and Sister Karen Donnellon persisted with their continuing battle to find a way to get a proper telephone connection for the holiday camp, partly because it was a low-cost holiday for all concerned but also because these wonderful women were well aware that my business was continuing to exist, albeit ‘by the skin of its teeth’, even though Telstra’s automated voice messages kept on telling prospective customers that the business did not exist or, alternatively the callers simply reached a dreaded silence that appeared to indicate that the number they had called was attached to a ‘dead’ line. Either way, I lost the business that may well have followed if only the callers could have been successfully connected to my office.
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.”
It is clear from the government communications regulators own investigations into my complaints that I was justified in demanding the government investigate why so many people in the Ballarat and south-west region of Victoria were having so many faults with their Telstra’s rural network (see point 115 AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings) which notes
“Some problems with incorrectly coded data seem to have existed for a considerable period of time. In July 1993 Mr Smith reported a problem with payphones dropping out on answer to calls made utilising his 008 number. Telecom diagnosed the problem as being to “Due to incorrect data in AXE 1004, CC-1. Fault repaired by Ballarat OSC 8/7/93, The original deadline for the data to be changed was June 14th 1991. Mr Smith’s complaint led to the identification of a problem which had existed for two years.”
The damage done by withholding AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings from the arbitration process can never be measured. Imagine what the Ballarat residents and small business owners lost during the two year period this incorrect data problem existed in Ballarat.
In 1993, when Hon David Hawker MP, Member for Wannon, was asking his electorate to write to me supporting my stand for a better phone system in south-west Victoria, as our Summary of events shows, I likewise asked numerous Ballarat business operators to contact me personally or via a mailbox that the Ballarat Courier had kindly offered me. As the attached exhibit, Main Evidence File No 24 shows, the person who had agreed to pick up my mail at the Ballarat Courier noted in her Statutory Declaration (which I provided to the Australian Federal Police) that: “…On two occasions there was no mail to collect even though prior inquiries to the Courier had indicated there was”.
It is clear from our Australian Federal Police Investigations page and our Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 evidence file that Telstra had intercepted my telephone conversations without my knowledge or consent. Arbitration records confirm the AFP had their own problems with my ongoing telephone problems during the period they were investigating Telstra unauthorised interception of the telephone services.
On 21 March 1995, four members of the Casualties of Telstra (COT) group, i.e. Graham Schorer, Ann Garms, myself, and a very distraught gentlemen from Ballarat, were all invited to present information to a Senate debate that had been set up to discuss proposed amendments to the Telecommunication Interception Bill 1994. We all spoke at this hearing, and some of us also introduced documents to support our claims that Telstra had been intercepting our telephone services without our knowledge, and therefore without our authorization.
We have not named who this Ballarat distraught COT case member is because to do so, might link back to some of the people he was counselling in the 1990s.
Telstra’s unethical conduct towards the COT Cases is well documented on this website including threats made against me by Paul Rumble, a senior Telstra arbitration defence official and government lobbyist. These threats was clearly intimidation by Telstra (the defendant), but still, the arbitrator refused to convene a hearing to discuss these threats even though exhibit GS-CAV 205 shows I tried to have these document issues investigated. If the arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes was a truly an independent arbitrator he would have made references to these threats in his official’s arbitration findings especially when he was alerted by the government that these threat had been carried out against me.
A concerned Senator Ron Boswell discussed these same threats during a Senate Committee debate (see page 180 Senate Evidence File No 31) dated 29 November 1994, which notes:
“Why did Telecom advise the Commonwealth Ombudsman that Telecom withheld FOI documents from Alan Smith because Alan Smith provided Telecom FOI documents to the Australian Federal Police during their investigation?”
After receiving a hollow response from Telstra, which the senator, the AFP and I all knew was utterly false, the senator states:
“…Why would Telecom withhold vital documents from the AFP? Also, why would Telecom penalise COT members for providing documents to the AFP which substantiate that Telecom had conducted unauthorised interceptions of COT members’ communications and subsequently dealt in the intercepted information by providing that information to Telecom’s external legal advisers and others?” (See Senate Evidence File No 31)
What is so appalling about the withholding of relevant documents is that no one in the TIO office or government has ever investigated the disastrous impact this had on my overall submission to the arbitration process. Dr Hughes and the government (who at the time fully owned Telstra) should have initiated an investigation into why an Australian citizen, who assisted the AFP in their investigations into unlawful interception of telephone conversations, was so severely disadvantaged during a civil arbitration Page Part One File No/14)
The attached AFP transcripts (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1) dated 26 September 1994, taken during their second interview with me concerning Telstra’s unauthorised interception of my telephone conversations and my further claims to both the government and AFP that it appeared as though my faxes were also being hacked I agreed to hand over to the AFP all fresh evidence received under FOI from Telstra that suggested I had been subjected to this unauthorised attack on my then civil liberties
Why didn’t the arbitrator Dr Hughes mention in his written findings that numerous arbitration-related documents which had clearly left my office were hacked before reaching their intended destination?
It is also clear from FrontPage Part One File No/1, File No/2-A to 2-E, File No/3, File No/4 and FrontPage Part One File No/5, that numerous documents faxed from my office to the arbitrator’s office did not reach their intended destination.
So far, no one in Australia has even been brought to account, let alone jailed, for the terrible invasion of the COT cases’ private and business lives. Why didn’t the arbitrator and administrator investigate why so many arbitration documents were just not reaching their intended destination?
We draw the reader’s attention to the 12 May 1995 letter from Dr Hughes to Warwick Smith (who was also the first Australian Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO). This crucial concealed arbitration letter states:
“…as far as I could observe, both Telecom and Smith co-operated in the Smith arbitration…”
“…the time frames set in the original Arbitration Agreement were, with the benefit of hindsight, optimistic;
“in particular; we did not allow sufficient time in the Arbitration Agreement for inevitable delays associated with the production of documents, obtaining further particulars and the preparation of technical reports…
“In summary, it is my view that if the process is to remain credible, it is necessary to contemplate a time frame for completion which is longer than presently contained in the Arbitration Agreement” (File No 55-A)
Whoever had access to Telstra’s network, and therefore the TIO’s office service lines, knew – during the designated appeal time of my arbitration – that my arbitration was conducted using a set of rules (arbitration agreement) that the arbitrator declared not credible. There are three fax identification lines across the top of the second page of this 12 May 1995 letter:
- The third line down from the top of the page (i.e. the bottom line) shows that the document was first faxed from the arbitrator’s office, on 12-5-95, at 2:41 pm to the Melbourne office of the TIO – 61 3 277 8797;
- The middle line indicates that it was faxed on the same day, one hour later, at 15:40, from the TIO’s fax number, followed by the words “TIO LTD”.
- The top line, however, begins with the words “Fax from” followed by the correct fax number for the TIO’s office (visible
Consider the order of the timestamps. The top line is the second sending of the document at 14:50, nine minutes after the fax from the arbitrator’s office; therefore, between the TIO’s office receiving the first fax, which was sent at 2.41 pm (14:41), and sending it on at 15:40, to his home, the fax was also re-sent at 14:50. In other words, the document sent nine minutes after the letter reached the TIO office was intercepted.
“We canvassed examples, which we are advised are a representative group, of this phenomena [sic].
“They show that
- the header strip of various faxes is being altered
- the header strip of various faxes was changed or semi overwritten.
- In all cases the replacement header type is the same.
- The sending parties all have a common interest and that is COT.
- Some faxes have originated from organisations such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman office.
- The modified type face of the header could not have been generated by the large number of machines canvassed, making it foreign to any of the sending services.”
One of the two technical consultants attesting to the validity of this Scandrett & Associates fax interception report emailed me on 17 December 2014, stating:
“I still stand by my statutory declaration that I was able to identify that the incoming faxes provided to me for review had at some stage been received by a secondary fax machine and then retransmitted, this was done by identifying the dual time stamps on the faxes provided.” (File No/14)
It is also clear from Tony Watson Part One File No/1, File No/2-A to 2-E, File No/3, File No/4 and File No/5, that numerous documents faxed from my office to the arbitrator’s office did not reach their intended destination.
Was this letter 12 May 1995 File No 55-A actually faxed to my office by the ombudsman to assist me in any pending appeal process, and if not, why was such an important letter deliberately kept from me during my designated appeal period)?
A further matter of importance concerning this major point that must be noted here concerning this 12 May 1995 letter to Warwick Smith, is that I did I not receive a copy from the TIO’s office until 2002, and I have so far only touched briefly on its significance here. A more in-depth study of this letter raises the following questions: (
Dr Hughes states: “… as far as I could observe, both Telecom and Smith co-operated in the Smith arbitration.”
- How could he make such a statement when he had received written notification that the Government Solicitors had to be brought in to force Telstra to comply with FOI requests by the four COT members (which included me)? and
- How could he make such a statement after seeing a copy of John Rundell’s letter of 18th April 1995, to the TIO, which stated: “It is unfortunate that there have been forces at work collectively beyond our reasonable control that have delayed us in undertaking our work.”
Was the man totally blind, or was he just afraid to expose the truth? Please note that this letter (attached) was also copied to Peter Bartlett of Minter Ellison, the TIO’s Legal Counsel in Arbitration.
Also in this same letter, Dr Hughes makes the following comments, which all need to be explained by the TIO’s office:
- The time frames set in the original Arbitration Agreement were, with the benefit of hindsight, optimistic;
- In particular, we did not allow sufficient time in the Arbitration Agreement for inevitable delays associated with the production of documents, obtaining further particulars and the preparation of technical reports;
- In summary, it is my view that, if the process is to remain credible, it is necessary to contemplate a time frame for completion which is longer than presently contained in the Arbitration Agreement.
It is patently obvious that, immediately on receipt of this letter, as the administrator of the Arbitration Agreement, Warwick Smith should have abandoned the process and intervened on my behalf to allow a review and allow me more time to obtain further particulars, produce documents and prepare his technical report. John Rundell’s letter to Mr Pinnock on 15th November 1995 (refer Prologue/Chapter One), regarding the inadequate time frame and how it affected the completion of the DMR & Lane technical report, adds further weight to the allegation that the process was severely flawed.
12 May 1995: Dr Hughes writes to Graham Schorer, copied to Warwick Smith, Peter Bartlett, and others stating: “…I am departing today for two weeks leave. When I return, I intend convening a directions hearing in order to determine whether the parties wish this arbitration to proceed. I would be interested to receive any comments from you (or Telecom) in the meantime. (Exhibt GS 218 file GS-CAV 216 to 257)
Please note: There is no reference in this letter stating: It is my view that if the process is to remain credible, it is necessary to contemplate a time frame for completion which is longer than presently contained in the Arbitration Agreement.
Another alarming document included in those received from the TIO in 2002 was a fax cover sheet to Peter Bartlett of Minter Ellison from the TIO, regarding some of my letters to Dr Hughes (concerning my late received FOI document) and my consequent letter to Mr Pinnock on 21 June 1995, concerning the non-supply of requested FOI documents. This fax cover sheet notes, in reference to my arbitration, “…what the approach should be re parties seeking to revisit post Arbitration. This position is not to open the can of worms” (Exhibit AS 184 file AS-CAV 181 to 233). This document certainly suggests that my arbitration process was certainly not administered as transparently or as lawfully as it should have been., and is add
Why wasn’t the Senate Estimate Committee who were investigating these arbitration documents issues provided a copy of Dr Hughes’ 12 May 1995 letter to Warwick Smith as well as copies of my letters to the TIO office concerning late received FOI documents which had been concealed from me by a member of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Council in his role as Telstra’s FOI officer? How could the TIO office (as the administrators of the COT arbitrations) allow one of their members to be in charge of distributing FOI documents to the COT Cases? The whole TIO administration of the COT arbitrations by the TIO was a total facade in order to protect Telstra.
Starting on page 5163, this link > SENATE official Hansard – Parliament of Australia, shows Telstra employees rorted millions upon millions of dollars from Telstra shareholders: i.e., the government and Australian citizens, who then owned Telstra. The pressure Senators Alston and Boswell applied, for a Senate investigation into the Casualties of Telstra (COT cases) phone fiascos, was one of the reasons Telstra agreed to settle the COT cases’ issues in a proposed Fast Track Settlement Proposal signed by Telstra and the four claimants in the third week of November 1993. Telstra, it seemed, could not afford a further investigation into its operation: NSW was not the only state where this rorting, and others, was taking place. Many people made threats against the COT cases because our persistence, in order to gain fully functional phone systems, was about to expose other unethical behaviour at Telstra, including at management level. The fact that both the Telstra CEO and board knew millions upon millions of dollars (again, see 5163 of SENATE official Hansard) were being unlawfully syphoned from the government coffers is unbelievable. In fact, figures running into the billions have also been quoted.
Perhaps even more unbelievable is that the COT cases received no recognition, from either the government or Telstra, for our stand for honesty and truth; instead, we have been treated in the worst possible way, labelled as vexatious litigants and our lives have been ruined, simply because we believed that what we were doing would eventually benefit all Australians.
COT members pleaded with the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) not to force us into arbitration with Telstra whilst Telstra was under investigation by the Australian Federal Police for unauthorised interception of COT cases’ telephone conversations – this was undemocratic. The TIO ignored our concerns. What we did not know, was that the TIO and arbitrator had secretly agreed with Telstra to use their drafted arbitration agreement and NOT the independent agreement the government was assured would be used to assess our matters. Even worse, although the arbitrator wrote to the TIO, advising him the arbitration agreement was not credible to use in the arbitrations, it was still used. This letter from the arbitrator was then concealed from the claimants during their designated appeal processes, regardless of its value.
Even before the arbitrator brought down his first deliberation, both he and the TIO were warned, on 18 April 1995, that there were “forces at work” derailing the arbitrations. They both ignored this written advice. This letter to the TIO, from the arbitration project manager, was also concealed from the claimants during the same designated appeal process.
Both Telstra’s 14 April 1994 letter, to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), that admits at least one Telstra employee was intercepting my telephone conversations, and my 9 September 1994 response, concerning this unauthorised interception over an extended period, are now stamped “Protected AFP” material. The > SENATE official Hansard clearly refers to Telstra’s conduct, stand-over tactics and threats towards the COT cases. The Senate Hansard, AFP transcripts (of conversations with me concerning these threats) and the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s records, all confirm Telstra carried out those threats against me; yet neither the arbitrator nor the TIO addressed this during my arbitration. Why has no one ever addressed this unethical conduct publicly? Why is there no record, in the arbitrator’s award, exposing these threats? Why was Telstra allowed to make these threats and commit similar unlawful acts against the COT cases during their arbitrations? Neither the TIO nor arbitrator came to my aid or demanded answers to why a corporation can take control over arbitrations in a government-endorsed process. This has been the hardest thing for the COT cases to accept, after having given so much to the people of Australia.
On 25 June 1997, the day after the Senate committee were told we five COT cases had to be stopped at all cost from proving our claims, a number of senators discussed Telstra’s legal firm and its COT strategy, dated 20 September 1993. This strategy advises how Telstra can conceal technical information from the four main COTs (which included me) under Legal Professional Privilege, even though the documents were not privileged (see SENATE Hansard, page 5169). The COT strategy is available at Prologue Evidence File No/1-A.
The author of this COT strategy is the same lawyer with whom I was forced to register each of my phone complaints, in writing, before Telstra would address these problems. NONE of the fault information I provided to this lawyer, concerning ongoing telephone problems and Telstra’s response to those problems, were ever released to me during my arbitration.
To add further insult to these injustices, on 12 September 1994, as part of the arbitration process, I was obliged to meet with Telstra’s consulting forensic psychologist in Portland’s Richmond Hotel so he could analyse my mental health as part of Telstra’s defence of the arbitration process. One of the most important issues I raised with him was the trauma I suffered at the hands of the legal firm that hired him. He appeared to listen carefully to what I described and he said being directed to register phone complaints, in writing, with Telstra’s lawyer, before they would be investigated, was most disturbing. I provided confirmation that losing six incoming calls in a single day was common. Writing to a lawyer, explaining lost calls, was more than just soul-destroying, it just about broke my will power to carry on. He said he was shocked Telstra and its legal firm forced this on me and agreed this would certainly affect my mental state over the many months I had to do this.
However, when Telstra’s lawyers, which the government assured us would not be used in our arbitrations (see Prologue Evidence File No/2), provided this clinical psychologist’s witness statement to the arbitrator, it was only signed by Telstra’s arbitration lawyer. It bore no signature of the psychologist and didn’t contain his concerns regarding me having to first contact this legal firm, in writing, before Telstra would address my telephone problems.
The most alarming points about this unsigned witness statement are:
- Before the psychologist met with me, Telstra’s lawyers provided him with a copy of the Cape Bridgewater Bell Canada International (BCI) addendum report stating 13,590 test calls were carried out, over a five-day period, into the Cape Bridgewater RCM exchange, using the TEKELEC CCS7 monitoring equipment. This report stated the test calls had a 99.8 per cent success rate.
- Neither the psychologist nor the arbitrator was told tests through the Cape Bridgewater exchange was impracticable: the nearest exchange that could accommodate the TELELEC CCS7 equipment was the Warrnambool exchange, 120 kilometres from Cape Bridgewater (see Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report ‘masked identities’)
Had the psychologist known the 13,590 tests calls, allegedly carried out by BCI, could not terminate through the TEKELEC CCS7 monitoring system at Cape Bridgewater, his assessment of my mental state would have been somewhat different. He, too, might have been distressed if he had been aware Telstra misled and deceived him prior to him assessing my mental health.
In the same Senate Hansard, dated 24 June 1997, in which Telstra whistleblower Lindsay White says he was told to “stop these people at all costs”, similar injustices by COT case Sandra Wolfe experienced during a mediation process in 1997 are discussed. These injustices included her having a warrant executed against her by Telstra employees under the Queensland Mental Health Act (see pages 82 to 88, Introduction File No/9). Had interest parties had not acted in the manner they did, it is possible she could have been lost in an institution for the insane. Addressing Telstra on this disturbing maters, Senator Schacht says:
“No, when the warrant was issued and the names of these employees were on it, you are telling us that it was coincidental that they were Telstra employees.” (p87)
As a point of interest Sandra Wolfe as recently as March 2021, gave me written permission to use her Telstra phone interception issues that have still not been addressed that began more than two decades ago. And what about the warrant issued against Sandra? Why has this Queensland Mental Heath warrant matter never been transparently investigated and a finding made by the government communications regulator?
Is this warrant issued under the Queensland Mental Health Act, against Sandra Wolfe, akin to the false information provided by Telstra to the clinical psychologist before he assessed my mental health? In my case, the consultation by this psychologist was not conducted in a private surrounding, but in the Richmond Henty Hotel’s saloon bar!
Worse, however, the day before the Senate committee uncovered the COT Strategy, they 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’.
On 23 March 1999, almost five years after most of the arbitrations had been concluded the Australian Financial Review (newspaper) reported on the conclusion of the Senate estimates committee hearing into why the COT Cases were forced into a government-endorsed arbitration without the necessary documents they needed to fully support their claims i.e.
“A Senate working party delivered a damning report into the COT dispute. The report focussed on the difficulties encountered by COT members as they sought to obtain documents from Telstra. The report found Telstra had deliberately withheld important network documents and/or provided them too late and forced members to proceed with arbitration without the necessary information,” Senator Eggleston said. “They [Telstra] have defied the Senate working party. Their conduct is to act as a law unto themselves.”
I doubt there are many countries in the Western world governed by the rule of law, as Australia purports to be, that would allow a group of small-business operators to be forced to proceed with a government-endorsed arbitration while allowing the defence (the government who owned the corporation) to conceal the necessary documents these civilians needed to support their claims.
To further support my claims that I was forced to proceed with the arbitration before the telephone problems were fixed as part of the process one only has to read the newspaper article in the Portland Observer dated 8 November 2002 (seven years after my arbitration was concluded) which notes under the heading ‘Holiday Camp still plagued by phone and fax problem’
“The telecommunications problems which plagued former Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp operator Alan Smith have continued to beset current owner Darren Lewis.” (See False Witness Statement File No 3-D)
On 28 January 2003, False Witness Statement File No 3-C confirms a letter from the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman office was sent to Telstra concerning these same ongoing unaddressed phone faults:
“Mr & Mrs Lewis claim in their correspondence attached:
That they purchased the Cape Bridgewater Coastal Camp in December 2001, but since that time have experienced a number of issues in relation to their telephone service, many of which remain unresolved.
That a Telstra technician ‘Mr Tony Watson’ is currently assigned to his case, but appears unwilling to discuss the issues with Mr Lewis due to his contact with the previous camp owner, Mr Alan Smith.”
Was there a more sinister motive involved in Telstra’s technician refusing to help Darren Lewis with the ongoing phone/fax problems that, nine years before, Telstra and the arbitrator assigned to my case failed to investigate as part of the agreed to arbitration process (see Tony Watson Part One File No/1)? Why was this Telstra technician still holding a grudge against me in 2002/3 because of something my 1994/95 arbitration should have addressed – i.e., the ongoing phone and facsimile problems that this same Telstra technician was now refusing to help Mr Lewis with, nine years later?
Amazingly, one section of the manuscript I am currently working on, in relation to this never-ending Telstra saga, explains how I finally ended up counselling Darren Lewis, the person who eventually bought my telephone-plagued business in December 2001, seven years after the arbitrator brought everything to a screaming halt. The new owner had asked me for help because he was becoming suicidal with worry about what Telstra might still be doing, even though I had told him that I believed it was more of a vendetta against me by Telstra rather than a known ongoing phone problem within Telstra’s network.
I though Telstra would have no more reason to keep causing so many problems in this vendetta campaign against me. Sadly, for Darren that turned out to be wrong, the problems were entrenched within the network. And remember, the sale of the property was forced on me in the first place because the arbitrator refused to allow his arbitration technical consultants the extra weeks they officially requested, in writing, so they could properly investigate my complaints of ongoing telephone problems that were still affecting my business, even as the arbitration itself was in progress (see Prologue/Chapter One).
Of course, before Darren formally purchased the business, I had told him about the problems I had had with Telstra but, as I have noted above, I also told him that I believed all the problems would go away once Darren took over. What appeared to be the most worrying for him was a concern about whether or not Telstra was then secretly intercepting his telephone calls as it had been proven to have happened to me (see Australian Federal Police Investigations/Chapter One to Five). Since Darren was, of course, using the same telephone number that Telstra had been intercepting my telephone conversations from he convinced himself this was now happening to him. The question he kept asking again and again: is how did Telstra’s Tony Watson (see False Witness Statement File No 3-C) know that Darren had been in contact with me unless Darren himself was now under surveillance?
On 4 September 2006, Darren Lewis provided the Hon Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, with a two-page statutory declaration noting:
“Letters from us to our local Federal Member of Parliament, the Hon David Hawker, Speaker in the House of Representatives, led to Telstra visiting our business to investigate these continuing problems.
“After Telstra rewired the business including disconnecting a Telstra installed faulty phone alarm bell, we were informed Telstra had found other problems and believed who ever had installed the wiring had done an unprofessional job.
“Internal Telstra documentation provided to me by Allan Smith confirmed Telstra themselves had done the wiring.
“Jenny and I noticed that although our incoming-call rate had more than doubled once this wiring had taken place Telstra was still unable to provide a satisfactory reason as to why we were still having problems. …
Most, if not all, of the COT Cases, suffered from sleep disorders and stress for years as a result of their battles, with Telstra’s senior management who continued to deny there was ever a phone problem affecting their businesses. It was these type of denials by Telstra employees like Tony Watson after the COT Cases had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in arbitration fees after the government had promised would be fixed as part of the government endorsed processes that caused so much damage. to that were causing so much stress for the COT Cases such there were any such complaints. On 23 February 2007, after Darren Lewis become suicidal following a confrontation with Telstra over ongoing telephone problems at the camp, Ms Howard, a Portland psychologist, visited my Cape Bridgewater residence. She was struggling to understand what Darren was talking about and why he felt suicidal. I provided Ms Howard with documents supporting Darren’s valid claims about Telstra’s deficient services, adding that I was sorry that Darren had ended up this way.
I also provided Ms Howard with a letter dated 8 November 2002, from a man in South Australia (See Home Evidence File No/15), who also lost his building business in Cape Bridgewater due to ongoing telephone problems. This letter also notes mentions the possibility of his telephone conversations were being intercepted.
George Close, the technical consultant for the COT cases, visited Darren’s residence in Cape Bridgewater in April 2007, after I showed him Open Letter File No/12, File No/13. We discussed the effect of these intercepted/hacked faxes on my overall submission to the arbitrator in 1994 as well as the still unaddressed faxing problems Darren and Jenny Lewis had been experiencing up to at least November 2006. After Mr Close had visited my residence in 2011, he sent me an email, on 5 August 2011, to assist me with breaking open this terrible denial of justice which the COT cases had to bare after their failed arbitrations noting
“I recall a discussion with Senator Ron Boswell during the late 90’s.
“He had been shown fax’s [sic] which had clear indication of change in the headers, indicating interruption in transmission by a third party or parties.
“He questioned whether it was possible that faxes to and from senators could be interrupted, read or copies.
“My response in the affirmative brought about an expression of extreme anger. Stating that if it could be proven that it occurred the offender(s) would be jailed.
“If required I am prepared to re-state this on an affidavit.” (See Front Page Part One File No/26).
So far, no one in Australia has even been brought to account, let alone jailed, for the terrible invasion of the COT cases’ private and business lives.
I believe that Darren first became concerned about the possibility that his phone conversations also may have been illegally listened to when he discovered my accreditation file in the camp office, where I had inadvertently left it when handing the Camp over to Darren. This file included Australian Federal Police/Telstra intercept documents, including one dated 14 April 1994 from Telstra to the AFP, notifying them that Telstra had installed equipment in the Portland exchange so that a bell would ring whenever I received an incoming telephone call so that the person on duty could then listen in on those conversations. I provided this Risk Management Plan to the Australian Government as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal during my 3 October 2008 Freedom of Information hearing – No V2008/1836.
In my letter to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) on 24 April 2008 I note:
” I also hope that you understand why I used a friends name and address on the envelope when I first sent my submission, and my paranoia won’t affect your assessment of my case. As further support for my concern, please also read the last paragraph on page ten of my submission, which discusses Telstra’s Tony Watson and how he was reluctant to talk to the new owner of my business, Darren Lewis, because Darren was in contact with me. My submission’s Exhibt 4 is a letter from the TIO to Telstra, which also relates to this same issue” (See False Witness Statement File No 3-D)
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 December 2008 letter below shows, I helped him prepare 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.
In December 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:
- 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
- Two s/comb transparent bound documents titled Exhibits 1 to 34
- 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);
- 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.
These two reports namely the BCI and SVT information were both related to the Ericsson faulty equipment which was used as evidence by Telstra during my arbitration falsely advising those involved in my arbitration that Telstra’s testing of the Portland/Cape Bridgewater telecommunication network including my business customer access network had been tested in November 1993 just before I signed my arbitration agreement and again in September 1994 during my arbitration and on both occasions, no faults had been located i.e.my service was now up to the government regulator specifications when AUSTEL’s the government regulator new this was clearly not the case as their own documents (see exhibits AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report and Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report show.
It is important to note that My FOI application to the ACMA, although directly related to my Telstra-related arbitration documents, was also clearly in the Public Interest because they should have been supplied by AUSTEL (now the ACMA) when they were investigating my telephone complaints both before and during my arbitration, both because the process had been endorsed by the Government and because it was apparent that AUSTEL had used information concerning my business phone faults which they could have only obtained from Telstra when they were preparing their draft report on my matters (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings).
It is also interesting to note that senior AAT member (lawyer) Mr G D Freidman hearing my FOI application registered with ACMA that ACMA should provide all the FOI documents I had requested from them, free of charge. At the conclusion of the AAT hearing, Senior AAT Member, Mr G D Freidman, made a strong point to the government lawyers who were acting on half of ACMA by applauding me for my stand noting:
“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.
I have still not received the FOI documents that Mr G D Freidman, believed the government should provide me as part of this official AAT (government) FOI investigation.
To have been literally forced into 12 separate investigations over two decades, because I sought a reliable phone service in order to operate my telephone-dependent business, has been soul searching, to say the least. Telstra used outside lawyers as well as in-house lawyers during the arbitration process to convince the arbitrator that the very problems he was investigating were only historic complaints, rather than the ongoing complaints first registered with Telstra six-plus years previously. This is unconscionable conduct. Telstra was still unable to fix these problems eight years later when the arbitration drew to a close – and yet the arbitration agreement states that findings could not be brought down until these problems were fixed.
Worse, Telstra and its lawyers only achieved this result, because, as our story shows, the government communications regulator (then AUSTEL, now ACMA) allowed Telstra to address some of the most relevant arbitration claim documents in secret, without my or the arbitrator’s knowledge. This despicable act not only prevented the arbitrator from realising how bad these ongoing telephone problems were, but also disallowed me my legal right of reply under the arbitration agreement (rules). The government regulator also allowed Telstra’s submission of arbitration witness statements prepared by at least one Portland Telstra technician, despite my claim advisor (an ex-detective sergeant of police) proving to the arbitrator, during arbitration, that this particular witness statement was more than just fundamentally flawed: the author had perjured himself on at least two accounts. And, yet, the government allowed this same witness statement to be used secretly in a process that should never have been allowed to proceed without the arbitrator and me present. This is clearly maleficent of the worse possible kind.
If, like me, you were one of the few surviving COT small business owners, would you not want the government, who endorsed your arbitration, to explain exactly why they have continued to cover up these injustices for more than two decades? Losing a business through fire, or flood, or something else that cannot be controlled on any level, is definitely a tragic situation; losing a business as the direct result of deliberate government bureaucratic maleficent is somehow much worse.
During the conclusion of the previously discussed independent Senate Committee investigations (see above) on 6 March 1999, there were twenty-three senators who were either directly involved or who were provided with regular updates in relation to those investigations into the COT arbitrations. Out of those twenty-three, the following six individual Senators all made official statements (See > Eggleston, Sen Alan – Bishop, Sen Mark – Boswell, Sen Ronald – Carr, Sen Kim – Schacht, Sen Chris and Alston, Sen Richard) which all formally record how those six senators believed that Telstra had ‘acted as a law unto themselves’ throughout all of the COT arbitrations.
(see https://www.channelnews.com.au/key-telstra-5g-partner-admits-to-bribery-corruption/ as a further example of telecommunication manufactures who are linked to Telstra have acted in a corrupt manner.