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Chapter 4

Towards a Settlement Proposal

Learn about government corruption and the dirty deeds used by the government to cover up these horrendous injustices committed against 16 Australian citizens. Covernment corruption within the public service affected most if not all of the COT arbitrations.

Telstra management was trying to force COT members into court, well aware that their highly paid lawyers would eat us alive. We became increasingly sure that this was their plan, and indeed, our suspicions were confirmed, years later, by some extraordinary documents which belatedly came our way.

The author of this internal Telstra memo to senior executives on 21 April 1993, for instance, referred to raising the issue of court with us:

That carries an implied threat not only to COT cases but to all customers that they’ll end up as lawyer fodder. Certainly that can be a message to give face to face with customers and to hold in reserve if the complainants remain vexatious 

The aim could only be construed as to wear us down and ‘hang us out to dry’ as an example to others who might wish to bring future complaints. And a copy of a Telstra email dated 28 September 1993, while referring to the ‘duress that the COT members are suffering’, goes on to say:

… we can’t afford to let anything get away … our best option is still to force these cases down a legal structured path.Absent Justice - Bell Canada International

I believe you are taking the most appropriate course of action

I have never received a written response from BCI, but the Canadian government ministers’ office wrote back on 7 July 1995 noting:

"In view of the facts of this situation, as I understand them, I believe you are taking the most appropriate course of action in contacting BCI directly with respect to the alleged errors in their test report., should you feel that they could assist you in your case."   

It is also clear from Exhibit 8 dated 11 August 1995 (see BCI Telstra’s M.D.C Exhibits 1 to 46 a letter from BCI to Telstra;s Steve Black and Exhibit 36 on (see BCI Telstra’s M.D.C Exhibits 1 to 46 a further letter from BCI to Telstra's John Armstrong that neither letter is on a BCI letter head, as are Exhibits 1 to 7, from BCI to Telstra (see BCI Telstra’s M.D.C Exhibits 1 to 46

Both Exhibits 8 and 36 were provided by Telstra to the Senate Committee [on notice under oath as being auhentic] in October 1997, to support that BCI Cape Bridgewater tests were genuine when the evidence on and Telstra's Falsified BCI Report confirms it is not.

Telstra has been relying on government ministers to ignore this fraud which the government has done for the past two decades or more.  

As far as Telstra's Simone Semmens stating on Nationwide TV (see above) that the Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) test conducted at the COT Cases telephone exchanges that serviced their business proved there were no systemic billing problems in Telstra's network does not coincide with the evidence attached to my website or the public statement made by Frank Blount. The latter was Telstra's CEO during my arbitration. In 2000 in his co-produced manuscript.

On pages 132 and 133 in publication Managing in Australia (See File 122-i - CAV Exhibit 92 to 127) Frank Blounts reveaks Telstra did have a systemic 1800 billing problem affecting Australian consumers accross Australia. These were the same 1800 billing problems the arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes would not allow his two technical consultants DMR (Canada) and Lane (Australia) to investigate (see Chapter 1 - The collusion continues). 

Had Dr Hughes given DMR & Lane the extra weeks they stated in their 30 April 1995 report was needed to investigate these ongoing 1800 faults (see Chapter 1 - The collusion continues) DMR & Lane would have uncovered what Frank Blount had uncovered. For Telstra to have mislead and deceivied  the arbitrator concerning these 1800 faults is one thing, but to mislead and devieve their 1800 customers is another issue in deed.

The following link Evidence - C A V Part 1, 2 and 3 -Chapter 4 - Fast Track Arbitration Procedure confirms Frank Blount, Telstra’s CEO, after leaving Telstra in he co-published a manuscript in 2. entitled, Managing in Australia. On pages 132 and 133, when discussing these 1800 network faults the author/editor writes exposes :

  • “Blount was shocked, but his anxiety level continued to rise when he discovered this wasn’t an isolated problem. 
  • The picture that emerged made it crystal clear that performance was sub-standard.” (See File 122-i CAV Exhibit 92 to 127)

Frank Blount's Managing Australia › managing-in-australia › can still be purchased online. 

The fact that Telstra allowed Simone Semmens to state on Nationwide TV that the Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) test proved there were no systemic billing problems in Telstra's network during the four years of the COT arbitrations is bad enough, but to have said it when there were other legal processes being administered where the billing was an issue is deception of the worse possible kind, especially after Senator Schacht, advised Telstra's Mr Benjamin of his concerns regarding Simone Semmen's statement inferring Telstra's network was of world statdard when both Telstra and BCI knew different.  

Telstra’s Mr Benjamin's statement to Senator Schacht — "...I am not aware of that particular statement by Simone Semmens, but I think that would be a reasonable conclusion from the Bell Canada report,'' is also misleading and deceptive because I had already provided Mr Bejamin (see AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233 - AS-CAV 196AS-CAV 188,  AS-CAV 189 and AS-CAV 190-A)with the proof the Cape Bridgewater BCI tests were fundamentally flawed.

Senator Schacht' s further statement — since then of course—not in conversations but elsewhere— we now have major litigation running into hundreds of millions of dollars [my emphasis] between various service providers and so on which are complaints about the billing system. Does that indicate that she may have been partly wrong?

Wrong or not, we know that several of those business owners who made those complaints lost their court actions and their businesses.


Absent Justice - Australian Senate

Telstra in contempt of the Senate

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 which owned the corporation) to conceal the necessary documents these civilians needed to support their claims. Three of those previously withheld documents confirm Telstra was fully aware that the Cape Bridgewater Bell Canada Internations Inc (BCI) tests could not possibly have taken place according to the official BCI report Telstra used as arbitration defence documents.

On my behalf, Mr Schorer (COT. Spokesperson) raised the Cape Bridgewater BCI deficient tests with Senators Ron Boswell and Chris Schacht. Pages 108-9 of Senate Hansard records (refer to Scrooge - exhibit 35confirm Telstra deflected the issue of impracticable tests by stating my claim – that the report was fabricated – was incorrect. The only problem with the report was an incorrect date for one of the tests. The Senate then put Telstra on notice to provide evidence of that error.

If the 12 January 1998 letter to Sue Laver, with the false BCI information attached is not enough evidence to convince the Australian Government that Telstra cannot continue pretending. They know nothing about the falsified Cape Bridgewater BCI tests, Telstra, and the Senate estimates committee chair was again notified, on 14 April 1998, that the Cape Bridgewater BCI tests were impracticable. When is Telstra going to come forward and advise the Telstra board that my claims are right and that indeed it was unlawful to use the Cape Bridgewater BCI tests as arbitration defence documents as well as grossly unethical to have provided the Senate with this known false information when answering questions on notice?

On pages 23-8 of this letter, and using the Cape Bridgewater statistics material, Graham provided clear evidence to Sue Laver and the chair of the Senate legislation committee that the information Telstra provided to questions raised by the Senate on notice, in September and October 1997, was false (see Scrooge - exhibit 62-Part One and exhibit 62-Part-Two). Telstra was in contempt of the Senate. No one yet within Telstra has been brought to account for supplying false Cape Bridgewater BCI results to the Senate. Had Telstra not supplied this false information to the Senate, the Senate would have addressed all the BCI matters I now raise on in 2021.

Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report’  is all the evidence necessary to show that arbitration lawyers provided false information to Telstra’s arbitration witness, namely the clinical psychologist, during my government-endorsed arbitration, and two years later, Telstra supplied that same BCI false information on notice to the Senate.

It is ironic that two Telstra technicians, in two separate witness statements dated 8 and 12 December 1994, discuss the testing equipment used by Telstra in overall maintenance and state that the nearest telephone exchange, to Portland and Cape Bridgewater, that could facilitate the TEKELEC CCS7 equipment was in Warrnambool 110 kilometres from Portland/Cape Bridgewater, where BCI alleged they carried out their PORTLAND / Cape Bridgewater tests via the Ericsson AXE exchanges trunked through the TEKELEC CCS7 equipment.

I have shown throughout this webpage, including in the Brief Ericsson Introduction⟶  that in several cases such as Cape Bridgewater (where I tried to run my telephone dependent business), Ericsson telephone equipment was known to affect the telephone equipment that serviced my business. And yet Telstra was still prepared the lie and cheat in the arbitration defence of my claim as well as during a Senate Estimates investigation into my Ericsson AXE BCI claims.    

On 12 January 1998, during the Senate estimates committee investigations into COT FOI issues, Graham Schorer provided Sue Laver (now in 2021) Telstra’s corporate secretary with several documents. On page 12 of his letter, Graham states:

“Enclosed are the 168 listings extracted from Telstra’s Directory of Network Products and Network Operations, plus CoT’s written explanation, which alleges to prove that parts of the November 1993 Bell Canada International The report is fabricated or falsified.”

Had the Senate been advised by Sue Laver there was merit in my complaints concerning the flawed BCI testing, my matters raised on could have been resolved two decades ago. 

Please click on the following link Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report and form your own opinion as to the authenticity of the BCI report which was used by Telstra as an arbitration defence document?

The evidence which supports the report is attached as BCI Telstra’s M.D.C Exhibits 1 to 46

On 23 October 1997, the office of Senator Schacht, Shadow Minister for Communications, faxed Senator Ron Boswell the proposed terms of reference for the Senate working party for their investigation into the COT arbitration FOI issues which Sue Laver,. Telstra's current Corporate Secretary in 2001, was heavily involved in these Senate hearings on behalf of Telstra.  This document shows the two lists of unresolved COT cases with FOI issues to be investigated. My name appears on the Schedule B list (see Arbitrator File No 67). Telstra, by still refusing to supply these 16 COT cases with promised discovery documents, first requested four years earlier, was acting outside of the rule of law and yet, regardless of Telstra breaking the law, these 16 claimants received no help from the police, arbitrator or government bureaucrats and were denied access to their documents, as shows.

Exhibit 20-A, a letter dated 9 December 1993 from Cliff Mathieson of AUSTEL to Telstra’s Manager of Business Commercial, states on page 3,

 "...In summary, having regard to the above, I am of the opinion that the BCI report should not be made available to the assessor(s) nominated for the COT Cases without a copy of this letter being attached to it."

Had this letter and the many other letters in BCI Telstra’s M.D.C Exhibits 1 to 46 been provided to the senate as part of Telstra's response to questions placed on notice concerning my claims the BCI Cape Bridgewater tests were impracticable the Senate might well have demanded more information regarding my claims. This BCI 9 December 1993 letter is also discussed in the introduction to My story-warts and all as follows:

After my arbitration was concluded, I alerted Mr Tuckwell that Telstra had used these known corrupt Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) Cape Bridgewater tests to support their arbitration defence my claims without AUSTEL's letter being supplied to the arbitrator (seTelstra's Falsified BCI Report).

“The tests to which you refer were neither arranged nor carried out by AUSTEL. Questions relating to the conduct of the test should be referred to those who carried them out or claim to have carried them out.”  File 186 - AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233

If Neil Tuckwell (on behalf of the government communications regulator) had demanded answers back in 1995 as to why Telstra used known falsified BCI tests, this falsifying of arbitration defence documents would have been dealt with in 1995 instead of still actively being covered up in 2022.

I reiterate, by clicking onto the following link Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report you can form your own opinion as to the authenticity of the BCI report and/or my version that clearly shows the Cape Bridgewater test was impracticable.

The evidence (46 exhibits) which support my report is attached as BCI Telstra’s M.D.C Exhibits 1 to 46


COT is partly vindicated by audit

For all its faults, Austel pressured Telstra to commission an audit of its fault handling procedures. Telstra engaged the international audit company of Coopers & Lybrand to report on its dealings with complaints like those raised by COT members. Coopers & Lybrand’s report conveys serious concern at the evidence we presented of Telstra’s unethical management of our complaints.

The Coopers report did not go down well with Telstra. The Group Managing Director of Telstra wrote to the Commercial Manager Refer to Chapter 6 Bad Bureaucrats:

… it should be pointed out to Coopers and Lybrand that unless this report is withdrawn and revised, that their future in relation to Telstra may be irreparably damaged

These are strong words from the most senior manager below the CEO of a corporation that had a monopoly on the telecommunications industry in Australia. Austel tabled the Coopers & Lybrand report in the Senate, but with some significant changes to what had appeared in the draft report. Regardless of those changes, Coopers were still damning in their assessment to what had happened to the COT Cases.

The following points are taken directly from the Coopers & Lybrand report:

2.20     Some customers were put under a degree of pressure to agree to sign settlements which, in our view, goes beyond normal accepted fair commercial practices.

2.22     Telstra placed an unreasonable burden on difficult network fault cases to provide evidence to substantiate claims where all telephone fault information that could reasonably determine loss should have been held by Telstra.

(2)        Fault handling procedures were deficient in terms of escalation criteria and procedures, and there is evidence that in some cases at least, this delayed resolution of these cases.

3.5       We could find no evidence that faults discovered by Telstra staff which could affect customers are communicated to the staff at business service centres who have responsibility for responding to customers’ fault reports.

We COT four at last felt vindicated; we were no longer alone in claiming that Telstra really did have a case to answer.

A Fast Track (Commercial Assessment) Settlement Process

To summarise. Senators Alston and Boswell had taken up COT’s cases with Telstra and Austel in August 1993, saying that if they were not swiftly resolved there would be a full Senate Inquiry. Telstra agreed to cooperate, and Austel was authorised to make an official investigation into our claims.

As a result of their investigation, Austel concluded that there were indeed problems in the Telstra network and that the COT four had been diligent in bringing these issues into the public domain. It looked like four Australian citizens, without any financial backing, had won a significant battle. Sometimes, we thought, David wins over Goliath, even in the twentieth century.

Because we were all in such difficult financial positions, Austel’s chairman, Robin Davey, recommended that Telstra appoint a commercial loss assessor to arrive at a value for our claims. These claims had already been found generally to be valid in Austel’s Report, The COT Cases: Austel’s Findings and Recommendations, April 1994 (public report) and it only remained for an assessor to determine an appropriate settlement based on the detailed quantification of our losses.

This ‘Fast Track Settlement Process’ was to be run on strictly non-legal lines. This meant we were not to be burdened with providing proof to support all of our assumptions, and we would be given the benefit of the doubt in quantifying our losses. This was the process Austel specifically deemed appropriate to our cases. Telstra was to give us prompt and speedy access to any discovery documents we needed to enable us to complete our claims as quickly as possible.

Telstra also agreed that any phone faults would be rectified before the assessor handed down any decision regarding payouts. After all, what good would a commercial settlement be if the phone faults continued? At last we began to feel we were getting somewhere. Robin Davey also assured us that any costs we might incur in preparing our claims would be considered as part of our losses, so long as our claims were proved. However, he would not confirm this assurance in writing because, he explained, it could set an unwanted precedent.

Telstra was anxious about setting precedents. On 18 November 1993, Telstra’s Corporate Secretary had written to Mr Davey pointing out that:

… only the COT four are to be commercially assessed by an assessor.

For the sake of convenience I have enclosed an amended copy of the Fast Track Proposal which includes all amendments.

To facilitate its acceptance by all or any of the COT members I have signed it on behalf of the company. Please note that the offer of settlement by this means is open for acceptance until 5 pm Tuesday 23 November 1993 at which time it will lapse and be replaced by the arbitration process we expect to apply to all carriers following Austel recommendations flowing from this and other reviews.

In effect, we four COT members were given special treatment in terms of having a commercial assessment rather than the arbitration process. By this time Austel was dealing with another dozen or so COT cases. We four were being ‘rewarded’ for the efforts we had made over such a long period of suffering business losses. On the other hand, we were also being pressured by this rush — we would lose the option for a commercial assessment if we didn’t sign by 23 November, a mere five days away. The problem was, we were reliant on the supporting documents we needed for our claims. For these we were dependent on Telstra’s good will, and their track record gave us no confidence in that. We were also concerned about the lack of written assurance regarding compensation for preparational and other expenses.

On 22 November we turned for advice to Senator Alston, Shadow Minister for Communications. His secretary, Fiona, sent him an internal memo headed ‘Fast Track Proposal’, in which she conveyed our concerns:

Garms and Schorer want losses in Clause 2(c) to include its definition, ‘consequential loss arising from faults or problems’ although Davey verbally claims that consequential losses is implied in the word ‘losses’ of which he has given a verbal guarantee he will not commit this guarantee to writing.

COT members are sceptical of Davey’s guarantee given that he will not commit it to writing. On top of this, COT alleges that Telstra, in the past, has not honoured its verbal guarantees and so does not completely trust Davey.

COT want your advice whether or not COT should demand that clause 2(c) include a broader definition of losses to include consequential losses.

COT was hoping for your advice by tomorrow.

There was no response from Senator Alston.

Graham, Ann, Maureen and I signed the FTSP the following day, hoping we could trust Robin Davey’s verbal assurances that consequential losses would be included and that Telstra would abide by their agreement to provide the necessary documents. I included a letter with the agreement, clearly putting my expectations of the process:

In signing and returning this proposal to you I am relying on the assurances of Robin Davey, Chairman of Austel, and John MacMahon, General Manager of Consumer Affairs, Austel, that this is a fair document. I was disappointed that Mr Davey was unwilling to put his assurances in writing, but am nevertheless prepared to accept what he said.

I would not sign this agreement if I thought it prevented me from continuing my efforts to have a satisfactory service for my business. It is a clear understanding that nothing in this agreement prevents me from continuing to seek a satisfactory telephone service.

Despite nagging doubts, we felt a great sense of relief once we had sent off the agreement. The pressure on all four of us had been immense with TV and newspaper interviews as well as our ongoing canvassing of the Senate. And I had never stopped hammering for change in rural telephone services, at least in Victoria.

In December 1993 David Hawker MP, my local federal member, wrote to congratulate me for my ‘persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services’ and regretted ‘that it was at such a high personal cost.’

This was very affirming, as was a letter from the Hon. David Beddall MP, Minister for Communications in the Labor Government, which said, in part:

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 is of great concern to me and a full investigation of the facts is clearly warranted.

A number of other small businesses in rural Australia had begun to write to me regarding their experiences of poor service from Telstra detailing problems with their phones and various billing issues. I contacted Telstra management myself on a number of occasions, putting on record my requests for these matters to be resolved. I believe this was a responsible reaction to the letters I was receiving.

Absent Justice - My Story

Rural subscribers wrote to TV stations and newspapers supporting my allegations that, with regard to telephone services, rural small-business people and 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.

A letter 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. Unfortunately this did not help.)

TV stations reported that their phones ran hot whenever they aired stories about phone faults. People rang from all over the country with complaints about Telstra’s service. This support from the media and the general public boosted our morale and gave us more energy to keep going as a group. We continued to push to have these matters addressed in the Senate.

AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, at points 10 to 212 were compiled after the government communications regulator investigated my ongoing telephone problems. Government records (see Absentjustice-Introduction File 495 to 551show AUSTEL’s adverse findings were provided to Telstra (the defendants) one month before Telstra and I signed our arbitration agreement. This allowed Telstra the chance to conceal the documents AUSTEL had located in Telstra's files before my arbitration began. I did not get a copy of these same findings until 23 November 2007, 12 years after the conclusion of my arbitration.

Point 115 –

“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.  [my emphasis]

Point 130 –

 “On April 1993 Mr Smith wrote to AUSTEL and referred to the absent resolution of the Answer NO Voice problem on his service. Mr Smith maintained that it was only his constant complaints that had led Telecom to uncover this condition affecting his service, which he maintained he had been informed was caused by “increased customer traffic through the exchange.”  On the evidence available to AUSTEL it appears that it was Mr Smith’s persistence which led to the uncovering and resolving of his problem – to the benefit of all subscribers in his area”. [my emphasis]

Point 153 –

“A feature of the RCM system is that when a system goes “down” the system is also capable of automatically returning back to service. As quoted above, normally when the system goes “down” an alarm would have been generated at the Portland exchange, alerting local staff to a problem in the network. This would not have occurred in the case of the Cape Bridgewater RCM however, as the alarms had not been programmed. It was some 18 months after the RCM was put into operation that the fact the alarms were not programmed was discovered. In normal circumstances the failure to program the alarms would have been deficient, but in the case of the ongoing complaints from Mr Smith and other subscribers in the area the failure to program these alarms or determine whether they were programmed is almost inconceivable. [my emphais]

Absent Justice - In Simple Terms

Spoliation of evidence – Wikipedia

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

Muzzling the media

We were getting a good amount of media coverage, even though it appears likely that some journalists were being asked by Telstra to ‘kill’ certain stories.

A memo between executives within Telstra back in July, entitled ‘COT Cases Latest ’, states, in part:

I disagree with raising the issue of the courts. That carried an implied threat not only to COT cases but to all customers that they will end up as lawyer fodder. Certainly that can be a message to give face to face to customers to hold in reserve if the complainants remain vexatious.

We are left to wonder how many Telstra’s customers like the COT Cases, who once they went into arbitration and/or mediation, ended up as lawyer fodder with broken homes and businesses destroyed?

A TV news program was also a target:

Good news re Channel —— News. Haven’t checked all outlets but as it didn’t run on the main bulletin last night, we can be pretty certain that the story died the death. I wish I could figure which phrase it was that convinced —— not to proceed. Might have been one of ‘(name deleted) pearls.

The name deleted was Telstra’s Corporate Secretary at the time. I have omitted the identity of the TV station and reporter. We too can only wonder what it was that convinced a respected journalist to drop a story.

It transpired that the same area general manager who deliberately misinformed me during the settlement process in 1992–93 was one of the two Telstra staff appointed to ‘deal with the media/politicians’ regarding COT issues. Would she misinform the media the way she misinformed me, I wondered.

A memo between executives within Telstra back in July1993, entitled ‘Cot Wrap-Up’, states, in part:

I think it should be acknowledged these customers are not going to become delighted. We are dealing with the long-term aggrieved and they will not lie down.

Further, I propose that we consider immediately targeting key reporters in the major papers and turn them on to some sexy ‘Look at superbly built and maintained network’ stories.

I advise that Clinton be targeted for some decent Telstra exclusive stories to get his mind out of the gutter. Prologue Evidence File No 24 to 39

We ‘long-term aggrieved’ are left to wonder just who ‘Clinton’ was and why his mind was considered to be in the gutter.

Another most startling document which I received long after my arbitration Telstra FOI folio 101072 to 10123 titled “In-Service Test Performance for The Telecom Australia Public Switched Telephone Service (Telecom Confidential) notes:

“The performances tabulated below have been formulated to aid dispute investigation and resolution. The information contained herein is for internal Telstra Corporation use only and must not be released to any third party, particularly AUSTEL.” (refer 101072 Arbitrator File No 63)

If AUSTEL had known that this document included the words“must not be released to any third party, particularly AUSTEL”, perhaps their public servants might not have perjured themselves in defence of Telstra’s arbitration claims that all the Service Verification Testing at my business on 29 September 1994 had met all AUSTEL’s specifications? And I believe those public servants certainly did perjure themselves, not only in their 2 February 1995 letter but again in the third COT cases quarterly report to the communications minister, the Hon Michael Lee MP. Refer to Main Evidence File No/2 and File No 3 which confirms that, at my premises at least, Telstra definitely did not carry out their arbitration Service Verification Testing (SVT) to AUSTEL’s mandatory specifications, at all.

During this story as well as on my website, I have raised the issue of the government communications regulator writing to Telstra before the COT arbitrations began to warn them that the government would be quite concerned if a certain legal firm had any further involvement with the COT settlement/arbitration process. I also raised my concern when the arbitration agreement faxed to the TIO’s office on 10 January 1994 bore the abbreviated name of this very same legal firm, despite the government assuring us this firm would NOT have a continuing role to play.

This FOI document (refer to Arbitrator File No/80), dated in the month of September 1993, was released to me by Telstra under FOI too late for me to use in my arbitration claim may well have persuaded the arbitrator to have allowed me more time to access documents from Telstra. As this document was released to me after my arbitration, one would have to assume it relates to my ongoing telephone problems i.e.

“All technical reports that relate to the customer’s service are to be headed “Legal Professional Privilege”, addressed to the Corporate Solicitor and forwarded through the dispute manager.”

This Legal Professional Privilege document must be related to the threats I received from Telstra that if I did not register my phone complaints with these same lawyers (in writing) then Telstra would not investigate those complaints.  

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Absent Justice Ebook

Read Alan’s book

My name is Alan Smith. This is the story of my battle with a telecommunications giant and the Australian Government, a battle that has twisted and turned, since 1992, through elected governments, government departments, regulatory bodies, the judiciary, and the Australian telecommunications giant, Telstra, or Telecom, as it was known when this story started. The quest for justice continues to this day.

Other independent business people similarly affected by poor telecommunications have joined me on my journey. We are known as the Casualties of Telstra, or the COT cases. All we wanted was for the government owned telecommunications carrier Telstra to admit there was problems, and fix them.

Worse, we had been tricked into signing a confidentiality clause that has hampered all of our efforts since to have our claims transparently investigated.

What do you think? Are we imagining it or has there really been massive corruption and collusion on the part of public servants, politicians, regulatory bodies and Telstra themselves, to protect Telstra to the detriment of it's customers?

Quote Icon

“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”

Sister Burke

“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”

Sister Burke

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.”

The Hon David Hawker MP

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.”

Hon David Hawker

“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.”

Cathy Lindsey

“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.”

Hon David Hawker MP

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”

– Edmund Burke