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Fraudulent profiteering - We must fight corruption on all levels.

 

Chapter 5

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Absent Justice - Prior to Arbitration

TIO Evidence File No 3-A is an internal Telstra email (FOI folio A05993) dated 10 November 1993, from Chris Vonwiller to Telstra’s corporate secretary Jim Holmes, CEO Frank Blount, group general manager of commercial Ian Campbell and other important members of the then-government owned corporation. The subject is Warwick Smith – COT cases and it is marked as CONFIDENTIAL:

“Warwick Smith contacted me in confidence to brief me on discussions he has had in the last two days with a senior member of the parliamentary National Party in relation to Senator Boswell’s call for a Senate Inquiry into COT Cases.

“Advice from Warwick is:

Boswell has not yet taken the trouble to raise the COT Cases issue in the Party Room.
Any proposal to call for a Senate inquiry would require, firstly, endorsement in the Party Room and, secondly, approval by the Shadow Cabinet. …
The intermediary will raise the matter with Boswell, and suggest that Boswell discuss the issue with Warwick. The TIO sees no merit in a Senate Inquiry.

“He has undertaken to keep me informed, and confirmed his view that Senator Alston will not be pressing a Senate Inquiry, at least until after the AUSTEL report is tabled.

“Could you please protect this information as confidential.”

Exhibit TIO Evidence File No 3-A confirms that two weeks before the TIO was officially appointed as the administrator of the Fast Track Settlement Proposal FTSP, which became the Fast-Track Arbitration Procedure (FTAP) he was providing the soon-to-be defendants (Telstra) of that process with privileged, government party room information about the COT cases. Not only did the TIO breach his duty of care to the COT claimants, he appears to have also compromised his own future position as the official independent administrator of the process.

It is highly likely the advice the TIO gave to Telstra’s senior executive, in confidence, (that Senator Ron Boswell’s National Party Room was not keen on holding a Senate enquiry) later prompted Telstra to have the FTSP non-legalistic commercial assessment process turned into Telstra’s preferred legalistic arbitration procedure, because they now had inside government privileged information: there was no longer a major threat of a Senate enquiry.

Was this secret government party-room information passed on to Telstra by the administrator to our arbitrations have anything to do with the Child Sexual Abuse and the cover-up of the paedophile activities by a former Senator who had been dealing with the four COT Cases? The fact that Warwick Smith, the soon-be administrator of the COT settlement/arbitrations, provided confidential government in-house information to the defendants (Telstra) was a very serious matter. 

Learning about government corruption and the dirty deeds used by the government to cover up these horrendous injustices committed against the COT Cases where government corruption within the public service affected most if not all of the COT arbitrations is the reason this story must be told.

On 17 January 1994, Warwick Smith the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) distributed a media release announcing that DR Gordon Hughes would be the assessor to the four COT Fast Track Settlements processes. The TIO did not say that, as I had feared, Telstra was not abiding by their agreement: they were not supplying us with the discovery documents critical for establishing our cases. The TIO also failed to tell the Australian public in this media release that he had agreed to secretly assist Telstra by providing them COT Cases issue  that were being discussed in the Coalition government Party Room.

Telstra and the TIO was treating us with sheer contempt, and in full view of the TIO and assessor. We were beginning to believe that no single person, and no organisation, anywhere in Australia, had the courage to instigate a judicial inquiry into the way Telstra steamrolled their way over legal process.

To be fair, Austel’s chairman, Robin Davey, expressed his anger to Telstra about their failure to supply us our necessary documents, but it was to no avail. By February 1994, Senator Ron Boswell asked Telstra questions in the Senate, again to no practical avail. (Questions about this failure to supply FOI documents were raised in the Senate on a number of occasions over the following years, by various Senators, whose persistence ultimately paid off for some members of COT but, unfortunately, not for me.)

Worse than this, however, was a new problem for us COT four. The assessor had somehow been persuaded (presumably by Telstra) to drop the commercial assessment process he had been engaged to conduct and adopt instead an arbitration procedure based on Telstra’s arbitration process. Such a procedure would never be ‘fast-tracked, and was bound to become legalistic and drawn out. Telstra knew none of us had the finances to go up against its high-powered legal team in such a process. This was the last thing we COT members wanted. We had signed up for a commercial assessment and that’s what we wanted.

Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) telephoned the TIO, to explain why the COT four were rejecting the arbitration process. Our reasons were dismissed. The TIO said he had been spending too much time on his role as administrator of our FTSP; that his office had already incurred considerable expense because of this role (Telstra was slow in reimbursing those expenses). He went onto say that his office had no intention of continuing to incur expenses on our behalf. He told Graham that if we did not agree to drop our commercial agreement with Telstra, Telstra would pull out all stops to force us into a position where we would have to take Telstra to court to resolve our commercial losses.

Moreover, if we decided to take legal action to compel Telstra to honour their original commercial assessment agreement, he (the TIO) would resign as administrator to the procedure. This action, he insisted, would have forced an end to the FTSP and left us with no alternative but to each take conventional legal action to resolve our claims.

Absent Justice - Conflict of Interest

On 30 November 1993, this Telstra internal memo FOI document folio D01248, from Ted Benjamin, Telstra’s Group Manager – Customer Affairs and TIO Council Member writes to Ian Campbell, Customer Projects Executive Office. Subject: TIO AND COT. This was written seven days after Alan had signed the TIO-administered Fast Track Settlement Proposal (FTSP). In this memo, Mr Benjamin states:

“At today’s Council Meeting the TIO reported on his involvement with the COT settlement processes. It was agreed that any financial contributions made by Telecom to the Cot arbitration process was not a matter for Council but was a private matter between Telecom, AUSTEL and the TIO.

I hope you agree with this.”

This shows that Telstra was partly or wholly funding the arbitration process.

If the process had been truly transparent then the claimants would have been provided with information regarding the funds – specifically, the amounts provided to the arbitrator, arbitrators resource unit, TIO and TIO special counsel for their individual professional advice throughout four COT arbitrations.

It is still not known how the arbitrator billed Telstra for his professional fees or how the TIO billed Telstra for his fees, and those of the TIO-appointed resource unit and special counsel. This raises the questions:

Without knowing how these payments were distributed by the defendants to the parties involved in the first four arbitrations, it would be impossible for the TIO and AUSTEL (now the ACMA) to continue to state that the COT arbitrations were independently administered.

To summarise the issue: during these four arbitrations, the defence was allowed to pay the arbitrator and those involved in the process. How is this different to the defendant in a criminal matter being allowed to pay the judge? It is a clear and concerning conflict of interest.

Senator Richard Alston, however discussed the Problem 1 document on 25 February 1994 during a Senate Estimates hearing. Another previously unseen document, dated 24 July 1992 and provided to Senator Richard Alston in August 1993, includes my phone number and refers to my complaint that people ringing me get an RVA “service disconnected” message. Yet another document, dated 27 July 1992, discusses problems experienced by potential clients who tried to contact me from Station Pier in Melbourne. (See Arbitrator File No 60).

Some of these hand-written records go back to October 1991, and many of them were fault complaints that I had not recorded myself. Telstra, however, has never explained who authorised the withholding of these names (those who had complained to Telstra) from me. If I had known who had been unable to contact me, I could have contacted them with an alternate contact number for future reference. Has the withholding of these names and the unavailability of my past historic fault documents related to the Jim Holmes issues mentioned below i.e. (see documents A01554, A06507 and A06508  - TIO Evidence File No 7-A to 7-C)?

The TIO had sold us out.

We implored the TIO to let us continue with the original FTSP agreement, but our pleas fell on deaf ears. Austel was no help either, and by April 1994, we had no choice but to prepare ourselves for an arbitration process. The first step was to familiarise ourselves with the rules of arbitration, unaware that Telstra’s lawyers had drafted them.

We had had been told, Austel had been told, and the Senate had been told that the arbitration agreement rules had been drawn up specifically for the purpose, independently of Telstra, by the President of the Institute of Arbitrators of Australia. We asked for a copy of these rules, which had already, apparently, been supplied to the TIO’s office, but the TIO refused our request, saying that it was ‘irrelevant to our cause’ More than once we asked the TIO for a copy, to no avail. We were told we should trust the arbitrator. And so, foolishly, we did. We really had no choice. We were all exhausted, stressed and clutching at straws. Singly and as a group we were vulnerable to the mute force of Telstra’s corporate power.

The rules included a confidentiality agreement that prevented anyone involved in the arbitration process from discussing the conduct of the arbitration process. In other words, if either party committed an offence of a criminal nature, this confidentiality clause would effectively stop an investigation, thereby allowing a cover-up. In my case, even though the TIO and the arbitrator were aware Telstra had perverted the course of justice during my arbitration, this confidentiality clause has so far stopped any investigation into this unlawful conduct. 

The Establishment 

While it is clear the Australian Establishment saw him as a shining light because he was protecting the assets of the then Government-owned telecommunications carrier, and therefore protecting the public purse and so creating an outcome for the good of all Australians, what that arbitrator, and the Government, have never wanted to acknowledge is that when Dr Hughes bent the law to protect Telstra and its shareholders it actually meant that the rule of law was breached. Telstra, the TIO who was also the administrator of the arbitrations the arbitrator, used their position to bluff those interested government ministers of seeing a just outcome to all of the COT arbitrations including, the media into believing that the services once investigated during the arbitration process once an award had been handed down by the arbitrator that service was now operating efficiently and effectively. When this was disputed or fought in any way by the claimant then it was Telstra, the TIO and the arbitrators policy to fight the accusations for as long as possible to tire and eventually wear down the claimant. In my own case, it is shown in Bad Bureaucrats that over a six year period after my arbitration and no one would investigate my complaints of ongoing unaddressed arbitration faults I reluctantly sold the business in December 2001, to the Lewis family. Their seven year unsuccessful  attempt to have the problems fixed is scattered throughout our story.

To present this statutory declaration in some sort of chronology of events we need to begin before April 1994, when the appointed commercial assessor decided, with the first TIO and the defendants (Telstra), to turn the commercial assessment, FTSP, into a highly legalistic arbitration process. Telstra’s lawyers controlled at least 33 of Australia’s largest legal firms and most, if not all, of Australia’s technical resource units (see Senate Hansard for 24 June and 26 September 1997). By using Telstra’s drafted arbitration agreement, faxed to the TIO on 10 January 1994, Telstra had their foot in the door to control the whole arbitration process. Later, Dr Hughes alerted the TIO, in his letter of 12 May 1995 (see Open Letter File No/56-A), that they were duped by Telstra into using an agreement that did not allow enough time for the:

“inevitable delays associated with the production of documents, obtaining further particulars and the preparation of technical reports”.

The only choice these two lawyers should have had was to admit they misled and deceived the four COT cases, the claimant’s lawyers and many of Australia’s government ministers, including the Canberra Parliament House press gallery, into believing the arbitration agreement was totally prepared independently of Telstra, when this was far from the truth, as they both knew. Instead, they decided to conceal, what they had done and by doing so they have stolen 22-years of our lives.

On18 November 1993, this same Chairman would not confirm this assurance in writing because, he explained, it could set a precedent. Telstra’s Corporate Secretary had written to him on 18th November 1993 (FOI D01274 to D01276, pointing out that:

“(3) Telecom does not accept the COT Cases’ grounds for reviewing the earlier settlements. However, on the basis of a denial of liability and without any legal obligation to do so and purely as a matter of good faith and business expediency, Telecom is prepared to agree to the above mentioned review.

(4) This proposal constitutes and offer open to all or any of the COT Cases referred to in Clause (1) (a), which will lapse at 5 pm Tuesday 23 November 1993. This offer may be accepted by signature below and sending advice of such signature to AUSTEL or the Telstra Corporate Secretary before that time.”

On 23 November Graham Schorer, Ann Garms, Maureen Gillan and I signed the FTSP, trusting in the Regulator’s verbal assurances that consequential losses would be included. These signed FTSP agreements were forwarded to Telstra’s corporate secretary. Alan included a letter with his agreement, clearly putting his expectations of the process:

“In signing and returning this proposal to you I am relying on the assurances of Mr Robin Davey, Chairman of Austel, and Mr John MacMahon, General Manager, 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."

It goes on to say:

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.”

A more precise chronology of events surrounding the Fast Track Settlement Proposal v Fast Track Arbitration Procedure as well as who drafted the originall FTAP can be obtained by clicking on Evidence - C A V Part 1, 2 and 3 - Chapter 3 - Fast Track Settlement Proposal.

Signing for arbitration, April 1994

On 21 April 1994 when we signed the documents to launch the new arbitration procedure, we still hadn’t seen the rules of arbitration. Not only did we want to see what we were in for, we wanted to make sure that the rules really were different from Telstra’s ‘proposed rules’. Our concerns were of no interest to the TIO however and so, as lambs to the slaughter, we signed on the dotted line. Later we discovered that the set of rules that had been supplied to the TIO’s office was actually headed "Telstra Corporation- Limited 'Fast Track' Proposed Rules of Arbitration". No wonder he had not wanted us to see it. The assurance we had been given as to the drafting of the rules had been a complete lie. Was anybody interested? I don’t need to give the answer to that.

My time now was focused on preparing my case for arbitration. In April 1994, Austel released its report on the COT cases,, and I used its findings and recommendations as a basis for my claims. I thought its findings in relation to my case were a lot milder than the original submissions I had made, but I learned that Austel had apparently had to tone it down because Telstra had threatened to enforce an injunction tying the report up for years. Austel had agreed to the amendments demanded by Telstra so that we COT four could have access to information in the report to prepare our claims. I did not know then of the ‘secret’ draft that I mentioned at the end of Chapter Three. This I did not discover until 2007.

In the meantime though, the Austel Report did confirm something for me. While I was hearing a constant refrain of ‘No fault found’ from Telstra, technicians were recording the truer picture. On occasions when I had rung to report the phone ringing once or twice, followed by no connection, officials had refused to acknowledge the fault, but in its report, Austel showed a different story:

In the period February to April 1993 Telstra staff responding to complaints lodged by Mr Smith of the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp recorded in their notes that there was a fault known to exist in AXE (digital) switching equipment which could give rise to a single burst of ring, followed by a busy tone to a caller and dial tone to the called party.

This was supported by quotes from technicians on the complaint forms:

‘This problem occurs intermittently throughout the network and although it is recognised as a problem there appears to be no one person or group involved in resolving it.’

‘I believe this may be tied up with the axe network problem which gives only one burst of ring and the calling party gets busy tone.

A new fault

Even as I began to assemble my claims, there was a new fault to include. This was the ‘hang-up’ fault. While Telstra was refusing to send me documentary evidence for my claim, I was ringing their engineers about testing this hang-up fault, creating no doubt more evidentiary material that would be denied to me.

Since August 1993, I had complained to Telstra that customers and friends alike were commenting on the peculiar behaviour of my direct line, which was also a fax line. After I had hung up from calls I had initiated, they could (if they were slower to hang up) still hear me moving around the office. Because of all the other problems I was dealing with, I hadn’t paid much attention to this, but I needed now to come to grips with it.

On 26 April 1994, I phoned Cliff Matherson, a senior engineer at Austel, who suggested we carry out a series of tests. First, I was to hang up and count out loud, from one to ten, while he listened at his end. I did this; he heard me right through to the number ten and suggested we try it again but count even further this time. Again, he could hear me right through the range I counted. Next, he suggested I remove the phone from that line and replace it with the phone connected to my other line (they were both the same Telstra phones, Exicom model T200). We repeated the test, with the same results. According to Mr Matherson (and it was also apparent to me) this proved that the fault was not in the phone itself, but somewhere in the Telstra network. His next suggestion was that I ring Telstra, which I duly did.

I explained to the Telstra engineer that I could count to 15 or more after hanging up, and that the person at the other end could hear me. I didn’t mention that I had tested two different phones because I was well aware that Telstra had a strong inclination to blame the customer’s equipment first. I was interested to see what he would come up with first.

I performed the same tests with the Telstra engineer, with the same results, and he promised to send a technician to collect the phone the next day. An internal email in March 1994 shows that Telstra’s engineer was aware, before the phone was even tested, that heat in the Cape Bridgewater exchange was causing the fault; the email also adds to the evidence that Telstra was aware of phone faults in the exchange, even while I was preparing my claim for arbitration.

I am concerned to note that heat may be part of the problem. I had occasion earlier this year to get involved in another ‘ongoing’ case involving an RCM with a heat problem at Murrumbateman (just outside Canberra). I do note, that one of the symptoms from the Murrumbateman case was ‘Not Receiving Ring,’ something Alan Smith at Cape Bridgewater has been complaining about for some time.

When my Telstra account is compared with Telstra’s data for this period, the call hang-ups and incorrect charging were occurring from at least August 1993 right up until the phone was taken away on 27 April 1994. The phone itself was an Exicom, manufactured in April 1993, and later proved to be a player in one of the many sub-plots of this saga. But that story comes later.

Preparational costs

In May 1994, A huge bundle of FOI documents finally arrived from Telstra, originally requested by me in December 1993, five months after they should have been provided under the then FOI Act. The legality requirements under the Act state quite clearly that those supplying that requested information had 30 days in which to release the documentation being sought.  However, Telstra has always been a law unto themselves, with little the government seemed to be able to quash. ‘Wonderful,’ I thought, ‘now we’re getting somewhere.’ I was wrong. According to the FOI Act, documents should be supplied in some sort of order, numbered, and preferably chronological. These documents had no numbering system and were not in chronological order. Many were unreadable, with so much information blanked out that they were totally worthless. This would have driven even the most hardened lawyer to the wall with frustration. How could I support my claim with material like this?

A law student to assist would have been a God send. The mountain of documents threatened to engulf me entirely, especially knowing that Telstra’s enormous legal team stood by, waiting to pounce on every slightest crack they could manufacture in the claim documents I submitted.

I sought out the TIO and his legal counsel, explaining my lack of confidence and reiterating Robin Davey’s belief that a non-legalistic hearing was the best and fairest way for us to present our cases. The TIO could only console me with ‘Do the best you can,’ while his legal counsel assured me that the process was fair.

It was at this point of time that I decided I had no choice but to seek professional help. I began by approaching a firm of loss assessors in nearby Mt Gambier who had acted for me after some storm damage at the camp some years earlier. The assessor remembered that he had had a lot of trouble contacting me by phone. After discussing my current position, I decided that my problems were outside his area of expertise. I continued my search for assistance in the Melbourne metropolitan area, approaching four different companies specialising in communications. Three didn’t even respond in writing and the fourth simply wished me luck in finding someone who would be brave enough to go up against Telstra.

After this, I approached George Close in Queensland. George had technical expertise in the telecommunications area and was already working on Ann Garms’s case. He agreed to take mine on too, observing that we would get more of an insight into how Telstra was operating this way. Once Telstra became aware that we had secured George’s services, they approached him too, with an offer of work. It would seem they were trying to close off all avenues for us. George, however, at 70 years of age, was having none of that. He replied to Telstra that it would create a conflict of interest and, bless his beautiful heart, he declined their offer.

I also needed someone to help put the whole claim together. Finally, I located Garry Ellicott, an ex-National Crime Authority detective with a loss assessor company, Freemans, in Queensland. A final member of my team was Derek Ryan, a forensic accountant.

I felt cautiously optimistic. Government ministers, Austel, and even the auditors all agreed that the COT cases were right and Telstra was wrong. But we still had our backs against the wall. We were all in financial trouble, and we were getting no financial assistance from anywhere. I was raising money by selling camp equipment and borrowing from friends.

When we signed on for an FTSP in November 1993, it was not for legal arbitration. There was no allowance made for us to pay the legal professionals necessary to support our cases, and nor was such allowance made when the plan was switched on us. Had I known that professional fees would ultimately mount to over $200,000, I would never have agreed to the arbitration, even if the TIO and Telstra had held two guns to my head.

Under surveillance - Chapter 2

Telstra email K01006, dated Thursday, 7 April 1994, at 2.05 pm, raises two issues. Firstly, this date falls during the time I was involved in the Regulator-designed commercial agreement with Telstra, and secret observations would surely seem to be inappropriate, at the very least.  Secondly, this document refers to a time when I would be away from his business during this pending arbitration process. The author of the email states:

“Mr Alan Smith is absent from his premises from 5/8/94 – 8/8/94. On other occasions when he has been absent there have been documented complaints received (usually months later) involving NRR etc. I called the premises at approx 4:55 pm 6/4/94. The answer time was 41 secs.

I intend on this occasion to document his absence and file all data I can collect for the period. That way we should be prepared for anything that follows.” 

Absent Justice - Fax + Telephone Hacking

Clearly, the writer knew, in April of 1994, that I planned to be away later that year, in August. In other words, he knew of my movements four months in advance.

The then-Minister for Communications, the TIO and the Federal Police were all supplied with this document, along with a number of other documents indicating that my private telephone conversations were being ‘bugged’.Another FOI document Folio 000605, clearly shows that the writer knew when “…Smith is in Melbourne”. I used to go to Melbourne (see AFP Evidence File No 8) on promotional tours to various single clubs advertising what outdoor activities we were packaging for two and three-night stop-overs. Horse riding, canoeing, caving and bush-walking. How could the writer have this information if someone hadn’t listened to this call to find out when I was going and which local girl would be on duty at the camp? Anyone reading the AFP transcripts from their interview with me on 26 September 1994 (see AFP Evidence File No 1) will see that the AFP documented many examples where, unless Telstra was not listening into my private telephone conversations, they would not have been able to document what they had on these FOI documents.  Telstra have never been able to explain how they came by this information. At other times, this same person has also stated that he knew I had spoken to Malcolm Fraser, former Australian Prime Minister, on the phone, and when that conversation took place. (AFP Evidence File No 7He insists I told him about this conversation, but this is not true. Again, Telstra has never been able to find a convincing explanation for their employee having this information. Obviously Telstra was still listening to my private calls, even though he was then involved in litigation with them and their lawyers.

Listening to private calls is appalling enough, but the following information is even more damning. Page A133 of the official Senate Hansard records dated 25 February 1994 states that the then-Shadow Minister for Communications questioned the Regulator’s Chairman, asking:

“Why did not Austel immediately refer COT’s allegations of voice recording to the federal police instead of waiting for the minister to refer the matter to the Attorney-General and then on to the federal police? 

A copy of a letter dated 2 March 1994, from Telstra’s Corporate Solicitor, Ian Row, to Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose (see Home Page Part-One File No/9-A to 9-C). This letter makes it quite clear that Mr Penrose was profoundly misled and deceived about the faxing problems I was having to deal with, as discussed in this letter. Over the years, many people have compared the four exhibits numbered (File No/9-Cwith the interception evidence revealed in Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13 and promptly concluded that, if Ian Row had not misled the AFP in relation to my faxing issues then the AFP would have been able to stop Telstra from intercepting the various relevant AFP arbitration documents in March 1994, before any damage had been done.

The then-Minister for Communications, the TIO and the Federal police were all supplied with this document, along with a number of other documents indicating my private telephone conversations were being ‘bugged’. Another FOI document, Folio 000605, shows the writer knew when “…Smith is in Melbourne”. I used to go to Melbourne (see AFP Evidence File No 8on promotional tours to various single clubs advertising the outdoor activities we were packaging for two and three night stays. This information could only have been gleaned from listening into this call to find out when I was going and which staff member would be on duty at the camp. Anyone reading the AFP transcripts of my interview on 26 September 1994 (see AFP Evidence File No 7will see the AFP documented many examples Telstra must have listened into our private telephone conversations in order to document the details in these FOI documents. Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13 prove COT cases’ faxes were intercepted during their arbitrations.

At Australian Federal Police Investigations, there is a detailed description of how Dr Hughes (the arbitrator) spent five non-stop hours interrogating me in front of two of Telstra’s arbitration defence officers.  This interrogation included questions that were clearly made in an attempt to discover how far the Australian Federal Police had reached during their investigations into issues that the then-Government Minister, Michael Lee MP, had officially asked them to investigate in relation to whether or not my faxes were indeed being intercepted or had just been lost in the system.  This sort of interrogation was, however, forbidden under the rules of the signed arbitration agreement but, in Australia, when you challenge the Telstra Corporation, you have absolutely no chance of finding justice!

In January 1999, the arbitration claimants provided the Australian government with a report confirming confidential, arbitration-related documents were secretly and illegally screened before they arrived at their intended destination. In my case, even though the arbitrator’s secretary advised the arbitration process that six of my faxed claim documents never reached the arbitrator’s office, I was never afforded the opportunity to resubmit this material for assessment. My fax account shows I dialled the correct fax number on all six occasions.

NONE of the COT cases was ever on a terrorist list in 1994 (or since, for that matter) and none of us was ever listed as suspects regarding any crimes committed against any Australian citizens. Why were our in-confidence arbitration and Telstra-related documents hacked by Telstra? In my case, 43 separate sets of correspondence faxed to the arbitrator’s office (some with attachments) are not listed on the Arbitration Schedules of Material as received by the arbitration processFront Page Part One File No/1 shows the arbitrator’s secretary advised Tony Watson (of Telstra’s arbitration defence unit) that on 23 May 1994 six of my claim documents did not reach arbitrator’s fax machine. Yet, I was charged on my Telstra account for those six faxes. When this matter was exposed, no one from the arbitrator’s office nor the TIO’s office allowed me to amend my claim so that proven “not received” claim documents were valued by the arbitrator in support of my claim.

I raised enough cash to bring Garry Ellicott to the camp for a few days in May 1994 to observe what was going on with the phones. During his stay, Garry commented that he believed I was being watched, or rather, listened in on. His background as bodyguard for US President, Jimmy Carter, gave him some experience in this area during his visit to Australia.

I already had experienced several instances of Telstra accumulating personal information about me — details of who rang me, when they rang and from where, when staff left my business, even my movements. In April 1994, Telstra's Melbourne fault reporting officer seemed to be aware of my movements four months in advance when he wrote an internal memo to another member of staff:

Mr Alan Smith is absent from his premises from 5/8/94 – 8/8/94. On other occasions when he has been absent there have been documented complaints received (usually months later) involving NRR etc …I intend on this occasion to document his absence and file all data I can collect for the period. That way we should be prepared for anything that follows. 

Telstra has never explained how this Telstra fault officer came by this information, nor how he also knew I had spoken to the former Australian Prime Minister, Mr Malcolm Fraser, on the phone, and when that conversation took place.

This person insists I told him about this conversation but this is not true. I told him no such thing.

In an internal Telstra memo around the time of the ‘briefcase saga’, the unidentified writer, a local Telstra technician, offers to supply a list of phone numbers I had rung. I had previously learned that the writer was listening in to my private conversations and, when I challenged him with this information, he informed me he was not the only technician in Portland listening in.

Not long into our arbitrations, Graham Schorer (in his official role as COT spokesperson) received two phone calls within a couple of days, both from young people. They told Graham they knew we were in arbitration with Telstra and wanted to alert him to what they had discovered when they hacked into Telstra’s email network. They had found documents confirming that there were people close to our arbitration – as well as Telstra – who were acting unlawfully towards us. Both times they rang they asked if we would like them to send us that evidence.

Graham and I discussed the offer of the first call, but we finally said NO on the second call although we were interested in what Graham had heard. We were concerned this might be a set-up by Telstra and therefore if we agreed to accept this promising material, then both our arbitrations might be declared null and void.

Since then, Andrew Fowler and Suelette Dreyfus have each published book referring to Julian Assange’s hacking into Telstra’s Lonsdale Telephone Exchange in Melbourne, which Graham’s business and mine were trunked through. Was it Julian Assange and his friends who had contacted us? His concerns about the COT cases not getting the justice we were entitled to, certainly matches his profile.

In hindsight, we probably should have accepted that very kind offer. We might well have been able to use that evidence against Telstra all those years ago, and perhaps we would not be here writing our story 20 or more years later.

This side of the COT story can be accessed by viewing our website absentjustice.com and clicking onto our Hacking - Julian Assange page.  

Absent Justice - Telstra Spying on its Employees

Between February and September 1994, I provided documents to the Australian Federal Police which I had received under FOI showing Telstra knew more about my private and business arrangements than it should have. On 3 June 1990, during the period Telstra was telling me they had not found any problems (faults in their network) that were still affecting the viability of my businesses, "The Australian" (newspaper) printed an article under the heading: Telecom ‘spying’ on its employees, which supports pages 1 to 6 of the AFP transcripts (see Senate Evidence File No/ 44 Part 1 and File No/45 Part). The newspaper article states:

“She said the accusations were contained in a statement by a former member of Telecom’s Protective Services branch.

“Senator Jenkins said the man claimed:

  • He and other Telecom employees and private investigators hired by Telecom did secret surveillance on hundreds of compensation recipients. …
  • He had been directed by his superior to use whatever methods to get the desired results, even when it was obvious the claimant was genuinely injured.
  • Claimants have had a ‘C.CASS run’ on their homes, which is a procedure where a computer can print out all numbers dialled on a home phone.” (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/19)

Democrat Senator Jean Jenkins told the Senate last week Telecom’s activities included bugging workers’ homes. …

In February 1994, the AFP visited my business at Cape Bridgewater to discuss my claims that recently received FOI documents suggested Telstra had been monitoring my telephone conversations. The AFP was concerned that Telstra had written the names of various people and businesses I had called, on CCAS data records, which collated all incoming and outgoing calls to my business (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No 20). The hand-written notes in the right-hand column of this CCAS data include against dates, the names of people that I telephoned and/or faxed e.g., 31 January 1994, GM (Golden Messenger), AUSTEL and the Ombudsman. In one instance, the name Faye Smith appears when I phoned my ex-wife. This reflects Senator Jenkins statements above regarding Telstra’s secret surveillance of their own employees in 1990, because here is Telstra using similar tactics in January 1994 while they were in a litigation process with me.

The pressure on all four of us COT cases was immense, with TV and newspaper interviews as well as our continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now but I continued to hammer for a change in rural telephone services. The other three COT Cases businesses were in central Brisbane and Melbourne. The Hon David Hawker MP, my local Federal member of parliament, had been corresponding with me for some time concerned that people in his electorate were being treated as second-class citizens. On 26 July 1993, Mr Hawker wrote:

“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 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)

An internal hand-writen Telstra memo (see AFP Evidence File No 8discusses two singles club clients of mine (I have redacted the names of these clients for security reasons), describes the constant engaged signal she experienced when trying to book a weekend during April and May 1993AFP Evidence File No 8dated 17 June 1993, records the personal phone numbers of these two ladies, but it also confirms Telstra was fully aware of when my office assistant left the business while I was away. 

My AFP interview transcript on 26 September 1994 describes Telstra recording who I phoned or faxed, and when. The AFP believed Telstra monitored my calls because the people they recorded were associated with the COT issues. Pages 3-5 of the AFP transcript, together with other documents I provided to the AFP between February and November 1994, prove that Telstra had listened in on private conversations.

So chronic and serious were my telephone faults in early 1993, that Telstra threatened (the first of two series of threats) that I had to register my ongoing telephone/faxing problems with their outside lawyers or they would refuse to regard my complaints as genuine.

By July/August 1993, the communications regulator was becoming concerned at Telstra’s approach to our complaints; particularly their continual use of outside solicitors. In October 1993, while the regulator was negotiating with Telstra for a commercial settlement proposal to be put in place for the COT members, the regulator’s chairman made it clear to Telstra’s commercial division that the regulator would not be happy if Telstra’s solicitors were used in future COT matters. This request was ignored however and Telstra continued to insist that I register my complaints through their solicitors, even though by then I was in litigation with Telstra

This fight was dirty and controlled. 

Later, when Telstra submitted their defence of my arbitration, I learned that Telstra’s solicitors also acted as Telstra’s defence counsel. By this time, I was able to provide the arbitrator with clear proof that Telstra had provided incorrect written statements to the regulator and me, with regard to incidents that occurred between January and August of 1993. The arbitrator would not investigate this information.

One document I provided the AFP in 1994, does not state Adelaide or a specific location elsewhere,  other than I was visiting Melbourne. I used to visit both Melbourne and South Australia on a regular basis from 1991 to 1993. Did Telstra even know where I stayed and who with? Let us not forget, I was not under suspicion of committing any crime let alone a serious one, nor was I suspected of being a terrorist. So why were the communications carrier and/or their government minders interested in my contacts and movements? When I showed AFP Evidence File No 8 to Margaret (my office assistant) she advised me that she had not spoken to anyone about leaving the holiday camp (which was at 5.30 pm just as described in this Telstra memo). This part of our Hacking-Julian Assange page more than suggests that my daily moments were monitored by someone and/or some organisation who had ready access to Telstra’s network.

After the AFP had discussed that Telstra file note with me it became clear that Telstra knew that I was getting regular phone calls from someone in Adelaide who usually rang from his Pizza Restaurant but, on this occasion, they had noted that he had phoned me from a different number. AFP transcripts indicate their concern that, in order to have gained this knowledge, Telstra must have been listening to ALL my telephone conversations, both on a regular basis and for some considerable time. I alerted AUSTEL to this situation because some documents, which I have retained, record some eighty or more calls that should have connected to my business but didn’t, because they were illegally diverted to another number. At that time, this is exactly what was happening to other businesses around Australia too, and AUSTEL and the AFP could both see that all those calls were being diverted to the same business.

Federal Police investigation

Other members of COT also experienced this ‘voice monitoring’. In a Telstra internal memo relating to the Tivoli Theatre Restaurant, owned and run by Ann Garms in Brisbane, is the comment:

Tests looped … maybe the bug has slipped off. Looks like a job for super sleuth Sherlock Kelly? (See to exhibit 2 file Phone/fax bugging 1 to 8)

An ongoing Telstra fault record relating to the Tivoli Restaurant provides surprisingly interesting reading when it makes reference to the Federal Police investigation:

John Brereton (Fed Police) initially stated a particular person was paying money for 3 people + others in Telstra to manipulate some services … Why was Federal police stopped from investigating the Tivoli Case …

Why did John Brereton start to deny everything and then volunteer for service in New Guinea for 2 years …”

Why did AA of Protective Services initially accede to my request to borrow a Bug scanning device for the 12th Night and Tivoli, then suddenly change heart (See exhibit 1 file Phone/fax bugging 1 to 8)

In January 1994, COT members informed the Minister of Communications of our suspicions of Telstra bugging, after which things happened very quickly. The Minister ordered an investigation by the Federal Police (AFP), and on 10 February 1994 Austel wrote to the Telstra Manager in charge of the COT arbitrations:

Yesterday we were called upon by officers of the Australian Federal Police in relation to the taping of the telephone services of COT cases.

On 25 February, Senator Alston, then Shadow Minister for Communications, asked Austel’s Mr Robin Davey in the Senate Estimates Committee hearing on COT issues:

Mr Davey, Why did not Austel immediately refer COT’s allegations of voice recording to the Federal Police instead of waiting for the Minister to refer the matter to the Attorney General and then on to the Federal Police? 

Be that as it may, when the AFP interviewed Austel, they were provided with documents showing that Telstra had listened in to my phone conversations.

In a letter to Telstra in February 1994, John MacMahon, General Manager, Consumer Affairs, Austel, acknowledges receipt of nine audio tapes from Telstra and notes that these tapes, which are related to the ‘taping of the telephone services of COT Cases,’ had been passed on to the AFP. No warrant was ever issued by the Federal Court for this taping, neither was a warrant issued in either of the Australian states in which the taping took place. Clearly, therefore, this taping was carried out unlawfully. Further, it was carried out during a legal resolution process involving the COT members.

Despite these investigations, no findings of Telstra’s surveillance or monitoring activities have ever been officially presented. At the time of writing, Telstra has still not been held to account, even for those which took place when Telstra was in arbitration with me. If the AFP or the government had pursued these questions, I would not still be searching for answers today.

On a number of occasions during 1994 I was interviewed by the AFP on this matter, and while they were unable to show me the documents and tapes Austel had given them, it seemed to me they were taking my problems with Telstra and my arbitration seriously. In one interview, I showed them an FOI document which conveys that the writer knew where the caller usually rang from even though, on this occasion, the caller was phoning from a different number, ‘somewhere near Adelaide’. The police were concerned about how a caller was able to be identified if he called from another number.

Constable (name deleted) of the AFP affirmed for me that Telstra had provided them with evidence of this ‘live monitoring’, which had gone on for some time:

… you were live monitored for a period of time. So we’re quite satisfied that, that there are other references to it. 

Senator Alston also put a number of questions on notice for the Senate Estimates Committee, to be answered by Telstra. These are the questions most pertinent to the COT claimants:

5.    Could you guarantee that no Parliamentarians, who have had dealings with ‘COT’ members, have had their phone conversations bugged or taped by Telstra?

9.    Who authorised this taping of ‘COT’ members phone conversations and how many and which Telstra employees were involved in either the voice recordings, transcribing the recordings or analysing the tapes?

10.  On what basis is Telstra denying copies of tapes to those customers which it has admitted to taping?

11.  (A) How many customers has Telstra recorded as having had their phone conversations taped without knowledge or consent since 1990?

       (B) Of these, how many were customers who had compensation claims, including ex-Telstra employees, against Telstra? 

In all the FOI documents I have searched, I have never seen these questions answered.

Other FOI documents I presented to the Australian Federal Police show that Telstra officials were making notes on who I rang and were keeping records including the names of other organisations, clients and friends. Even my ex-wife did not escape — her name was listed also. I kept the TIO informed of such developments, but at no point did he ever make any response on the matter.

An extraordinary intervention

At the end of March 1994, I got an extraordinary phone call. Frank Blount, Telstra’s CEO, their top man, rang me, wanting to know what I thought was the underlying cause of my telephone problems. Presumably, he had taken this upon himself to find the cause of my complaints. He was understanding, respectful and courteous, and I told him I thought that both Portland and Cape Bridgewater exchanges had been suffering from congestion for years. He gave me his word that he would investigate my theory, and it turned out he was a man of his word.

Cape Bridgewater COT Case’, an internal Telstra email dated 6 April 1994, shows the result of his influence:

Following previous lost call analysis of the Z route between Warrnambool node and Portland AXE–R (PORX) it was decided to increment this route from 30 to 60 CCTS …

Could you please ‘fast track’ this project due to the sensitivity of the current COT case at Cape Bridgewater (off PORX).

Another, dated 7 April 1994, followed with:

At 4.55 pm on 6/4/94 I was informed by Network Ops that the route into the Portland exchange would be increased by 30%. The work was to be completed prior to midnight that day. This should alleviate any problems Mr Smith or anyone else in the area has been experiencing with congestion into the area for some time. 

(In fact, an extra 30 circuits into Portland (30 to 60 CCTS) represented a 100% increase in the phone route into Portland exchange, not 30%. But either way, the increase in lines was appreciated allowing more 008/1800 customers to finally connect to my business)

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 the problem I had raised with Telstra, in the past, about Ballarat’s telephone public phone system, a problem that had, until then, lasted for more then two years and, as AUSTEL actually states at point 115 AUSTEL’s 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

Absent Justice - Break-Ins

Break-ins and losses

From the sublime to the ridiculous. It was also March 1994 when Graham Schorer and another COT member suffered break-ins and lost business-related documents. That made all of us a lot more vigilant. I found no evidence of a break-in, but I did notice two diaries covering the period 1987 to 1989 were missing. I decided to remove my official business diaries from my office, and from then on I transferred information to them on a weekly basis from my wall calendar and unofficial notebooks.

In February 1994, the AFP visited my business at Cape Bridgewater to discuss my claims that recently received FOI documents suggested Telstra had been monitoring my telephone conversations. The AFP was concerned that Telstra had written the names of various people and businesses I had called, on CCAS data records, which collated all incoming and outgoing calls to my business (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No 20). The hand-written notes in the right-hand column of this CCAS data include against dates, the names of people that I telephoned and/or faxed e.g., 31 January 1994, GM (Golden Messenger), AUSTEL and the Ombudsman. In one instance, the name Faye Smith appears when I phoned my ex-wife. This reflects Senator Jenkins statements above regarding Telstra’s secret surveillance of their own employees in 1990, because here is Telstra using similar tactics in January 1994 while they were in a litigation process with me.

When it was uncovered Telstra employees were stealing millions upon millions of dollars not just the COT Cases for knowingly continuing to charge them for telephone calls not made or had terminated minutes before the billing software had relaesed those calls there was immense pressure, with TV and newspaper interviews as well as our continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now but I continued to hammer for a change in rural telephone services. The other three COT Cases businesses were in central Brisbane and Melbourne.

An internal hand-writen Telstra memo (see AFP Evidence File No 8discusses two singles club clients of mine (I have redacted the names of these clients for security reasons), describes the constant engaged signal she experienced when trying to book a weekend during April and May 1993. AFP Evidence File No 8dated 17 June 1993, records the personal phone numbers of these two ladies, but it also confirms Telstra was fully aware of when my office assistant left the business while I was away. 

My AFP interview transcript on 26 September 1994 describes Telstra recording who I phoned or faxed, and when. The AFP believed Telstra monitored my calls because the people they recorded were associated with the COT issues. Pages 3-5 of the AFP transcript, together with other documents I provided to the AFP between February and November 1994, prove that Telstra had listened in on private conversations.

My Australian Federal Police (AFP) interview transcript on 26 September 1994 Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 describes Telstra recording who I phoned or faxed, and when. The AFP believed Telstra monitored my calls because the people they recorded were associated with the COT issues. Pages 3-5 of the AFP transcript, together with other documents I provided to the AFP between February and November 1994, prove that Telstra had listened in on private conversations. 

Question 81 in the AFP transcipt Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 confirm the AFP told me that AUSTEL's John MacMahon, (Australian government communications regulator) had supplied the AFP evidence my phones had been bugged over and an extended period noting that information supplied it; 

"... does identify the fact that, that you were live monitored for a period of time. See we're quite satisfied that, there are other references to it".

So chronic and serious were my telephone faults in early 1993, that Telstra threatened (the first of two series of threats) that I had to register my ongoing telephone/faxing problems with their outside lawyers or they would refuse to regard my complaints as genuine.

By July/August 1993, the communications regulator was becoming concerned at Telstra’s approach to our complaints; particularly their continual use of outside solicitors. In October 1993, while the regulator was negotiating with Telstra for a commercial settlement proposal to be put in place for the COT members, the regulator’s chairman made it clear to Telstra’s commercial division that the regulator would not be happy if Telstra’s solicitors were used in future COT matters. This request was ignored however and Telstra continued to insist that I register my complaints through their solicitors, even though by then I was in litigation with Telstra

Later, when Telstra submitted their defence of my arbitration, I learned that Telstra’s solicitors also acted as Telstra’s defence counsel. By this time, I was able to provide the arbitrator with clear proof that Telstra had provided incorrect written statements to the regulator and me, with regard to incidents that occurred between January and August of 1993. The arbitrator would not investigate this information.

One document I provided the AFP in 1994, does not state Adelaide or a specific location elsewhere,  other than I was visiting Melbourne. I used to visit both Melbourne and South Australia on a regular basis from 1991 to 1993. Did Telstra even know where I stayed and who with? Let us not forget, I was not under suspicion of committing any crime let alone a serious one, nor was I suspected of being a terrorist. So why were the communications carrier and/or their government minders interested in my contacts and movements? When I showed see AFP Evidence File No 8 to Margaret (my office assistant) she advised me that she had not spoken to anyone about leaving the holiday camp (which was at 5.30 pm just as described in this Telstra memo). This part of our Hacking-Julian Assange page more than suggests that my daily moments were monitored by someone and/or some organisation who had ready access to Telstra’s network.

After the AFP had discussed that Telstra file note with me it became clear that Telstra knew that I was getting regular phone calls from someone in Adelaide who usually rang from his Pizza Restaurant but, on this occasion, they had noted that he had phoned me from a different number. AFP transcripts indicate their concern that, in order to have gained this knowledge, Telstra must have been listening to ALL my telephone conversations, both on a regular basis and for some considerable time. I alerted AUSTEL to this situation because some documents, which I have retained, record some eighty or more calls that should have connected to my business but didn’t, because they were illegally diverted to another number. At that time, this is exactly what was happening to other businesses around Australia too, and AUSTEL and the AFP could both see that all those calls were being diverted to the same business.

During the February 1994 AFP hearing (before the break-ins and losses were uncovered), Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose of the AFP suggested from the information I had shown him that as I was now involved in my commercial settlement process with Telstra and the assessor would indeed be calling for information on bookings and general camp information that I should copy from my wall planner diaries including handwritten notations to what clients had reported because that was relevant to the AFP investigations as well as it would be to the appointed assessor.

I started writing the client information and notations from the extensive wall planners into my diaries as a second backup after the AFP had left. 

In May 1994, during his visit, Garry Ellicott, my now arbitration advisor and I spent five nights trying to decipher the pile of Telstra FOI discovery documents. It was during his visit I discovered further losses: exercise books in which I kept official booking records; a number of bank statements and my bank pay-in books for 1992/93. I cannot account for these losses. It is possible they were also missing in March, and I simply didn’t notice their absence. Without these records, I was hard pressed to produce full and correct financial statements for my forensic accountant, Derek Ryan, and was reduced to scavenging information from wall calendars and other unofficial sources which by now I had started to copy after Jeff Penrose had given similar advise two months previous. When Garry returned to Queensland I got him to take the work diaries with him for safe-keeping.

The fallout from all this became evident some weeks after my oral arbitration hearing in October 1994, when the arbitrator asked for my annual diaries for assessment. Garry Ellicott sent them directly to his office. Soon after that, Telstra submitted their defence of my claims. Then, two months later, in February 1995, Telstra advised the arbitrator that they had found discrepancies in my diaries, claiming I had added entries after the date that the calls and incidences recorded had actually occurred.

I have explained over many years as to how, and why, I’d had to copy fault complaint records into the diaries from exercise books, and affirmed that nonetheless, my chronology of fault events was true and correct. I have since reminded him and the arbitration project manager  that during my oral arbitration hearing I had practically begged to be allowed to submit these fault complaints notebooks (as the transcripts of this meeting show. But as the transcripts show Telstra had objected to the submission of these facts and the arbitrator had asserted, without viewing them, that they were irrelevant.

Nevertheless, when it came to his summary in relation to these diaries, the arbitrator stated: 

… I have considered, and have no grounds to reject the expert evidence provided by Telecom from Neil William Holland, Forensic Document Examiner, who examined the claimant’s diaries and because of numerous instances of non-chronological entries, thereby causing doubt on their veracity and reliability

I contend that if the arbitrator had allowed these notes taken from my exercise books as evidence, and provided them to Telstra’s Forensic Documents Examiner, Mr Holland would have had a clear understanding of what the exercise books really were and would have realised there was no attempt at deception. On a similar note, I suppose that some readers might be wary of accepting all I write here as truth, as I am aware that some of it seems so outlandish.

Yet during his time as Minister for Communications in the early 1990s, Senator Kim Beazley was concerned at how Telstra’s Protective Services Unit spied on its own technicians and other employees, documenting their movements while they were on sick leave, so I do not think it unreasonable that we COT members believed we also were being spied on.

For one instance, in July 1992 I had asked Telstra for a written guarantee that my phone service was up to network standard. I wrote this request to Telstra without ever mentioning the name of the bus company who had asked for the guarantee, but in 1994, among documents sent in response to one of my FOI requests, I found a copy of the letter I had written, on which the name ‘O’Meara’ had been scrawled. Had Telstra been listening to my phone conversations? If so, this was spying, way back in 1992, long before the arbitration process began. These issues of an individual’s right to privacy and a corporation’s manipulation of the system go to the core of Australian democracy.

Trying to produce a claim in some readable form when the story was so complex, multi-layered, and complicated by long-delayed access to necessary information, was extremely difficult. My phone and fax lines became life-lines to Garry Ellicott in Queensland.

When Garry attempted to ring me on 27 May 1994 on my 1800 service he twice reached a recorded announcement telling him my number was not connected before he finally got through. When Garry rang Telstra fault centre to complain about these voice messages the operator told him she could not register the fault because the complaint had to come from the customer. Garry’s response was understandably blunt. ‘How,’ he asked, ‘can the customer complain if he doesn’t know I’m trying to reach him? How can he complain if he is not aware that his incoming callers believe he’s no longer trading?’ When my telephone account arrived I had, of course, been charged for both failed calls. 

On the subject of these recorded announcements, the Austel report observed:

Monitoring equipment at the exchange will not identify this condition as the call will either not be received at the terminating exchange or it will be seen as a call existing from the exchange. Complementary equipment at the customer’s premises will not record a call being received in either of the above circumstances

I had been fighting for more than six years and still I was caught in a game of ‘catch up tennis’. As each new fault appeared I had to lodge an FOI request for Telstra data and each request would take at least 30 days to bring results. No sooner had I faxed information to the arbitrator detailing the previous month’s faults than more occurred and I had to wait, again, for another 30 days to get copies of Telstra’s records. If anyone heard my tales of frustration, they apparently didn’t care.

Hackers For Justice

Absent Justice - Julian Assagne

A Man With A Conscience

On page 15 in the novel The Most Dangerous Man In The World by Andrew Fowler, he makes the following statement:

"The Lonsdale Telephone Exchange in the centre of Melbourne with its black marble facade, is an eye-catching building. In the last 1980s it was the gatway to other telephone exchanges and organisations linked to super computers around the world".

The information on Bad Bureaucrats - Taking on the Establishment and Chapters 1 to Chapters 9 of Julian Assange Hacking are all related to the following discussion Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) had with a group of young hackers who we now believe were Julian Assange and his friends. These young hackers contacted the group during the early part of COT arbitrations.

That the hackers informed Graham Schorer they had broken into.the Melbourne Lonsdale Telephone Exchanges.  

In June 1993, more than twenty years before Andrew Fowler and Julian Assange had ever heard of the Lonsdale Telephone Exchange, Telstra had left an unlocked briefcase at my premises; it revealed that the Lonsdale Telephone Exchange had poorly been programmed and that the Ericsson AXE telephone exchanges equipment being used by Telstra in their telephone exchanges were known to be suffering significant faults.

On 4 and 5 June 1993, I freely provided AUSTEL (the then government communications regulator this evidence without copying much of it because of my limited copying facilities. A facsimile machine and a roll system were OK for faxes arriving, but that was its fundamental limitation. Later AUSTEL's Queens Road Melbourne office discovered from reading further documents that it became apparent other countries around the world were now removing the Ericsson AXE equipment from their exchanges or had removed it from their exchanges. So why was Telstra still using this equipment that destroyed businesses throughout Australia?

I provided the AUSTEL with further damaging information concerning the weaknesses in Telstra's Melbourne Lonsdale Exchange which showed that 50 per cent of my Melbourne telephone callers from Melbourne calling into my business at Cape Bridgewater 430 kilometres away were trunked through the Lonsdale Exchange. Telstra had somehow forgotten to programme the first six digits 055 267 of the Cape Bridgewater telephone exchange into the system for at least eight months. While this was bad enough, those callers received a recorded electronic message telling them my business was no longer trading.

So, when we were offered documents from an unknown source stating the hackers had gained access to Telstra's Melbourne Lonsdale Telephone Exchange which we knew was linked to the outside world, alarm bells began to ring. We were being offered emails and faxes proving Telstra and others had us COT Cases under electronic surveillance during our arbitration; we thought this might be set up. Was the Lonsdale Exchange the carrot to trap us into accepting documents outside of the arbitration process? Therefore, we declined to take the documents on offer.  

A statutory declaration prepared by Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) on 7 July 2011 was provided to the Victorian Attorney-General the Hon Robert Clark. This statutory declaration discusses three young computer hackers who phoned Graham to warn him during the 1994 COT arbitrations. The hackers had discovered Telstra and others associated with our arbitrations were acting unlawfully towards the COT group. Graham’s statutory declaration includes the following statements:

“After I signed the arbitration agreement on 21st April 1994 I received a phone call after business hours when I was working back late in the office. This call was to my unpublished direct number.

“The young man on the other end asked for me by name. When I had confirmed I was the named person, he stated that he and his two friends had gained internal access to Telstra’s records, internal emails, memos, faxes, etc. He stated that he did not like what they had uncovered. He suggested that I should talk to Frank Blount directly. He offered to give me his direct lines in the his [sic] Melbourne and Sydney offices …

“The caller tried to stress that it was Telstra’s conduct towards me and the other COT members that they were trying to bring to our attention.

“I queried whether he knew that Telstra had a Protective Services department, whose task was to maintain the security of the network. They laughed, and said that yes they did, as they were watching them (Telstra) looking for them (the hackers). …

“After this call, I spoke to Alan Smith about the matter. We agreed that while the offer was tempting we decided we should only obtain our arbitration documents through the designated process agreed to before we signed the agreement.” 

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Absent Justice Ebook

Blowing the whistle 

Absent Justice - Hon Malcolm Fraser

While in the midst of my arbitration case against the Telstra Corporation, I stumbled upon a freedom of information release by Telstra. The release disclosed that Telstra had documented and redacted my phone conversations with former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser see page 12 → Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1. During those phone conversations, I expressed my concerns that Australia was providing wheat to China in 1967 despite being aware that China was redirecting it to North Vietnam. I'm curious to know how the interception of my telephone conversations during the arbitration proceedings in 1993 and 1994 with Malcolm Fraser is related to my exposure to the government on 18 September 1967 that Australia was trading with the enemy. 

What intrigues me is the reason behind documenting a seemingly harmless conversation about Australia's wheat selling to China while being aware that China was supplying wheat to North Vietnam during a conflict with Australia, New Zealand and the United States. I am confident there must be a significant motive behind this, and I am determined to uncover it.

It's difficult to fathom the extent of harm inflicted on the young Australian, New Zealand, and United States service members by North Vietnam soldiers who were fueled by the wheat supplied to them by their communist Chinese supporters. Sadly, many of these brave service people lost their lives or were left with permanent injuries.

1.     In September of 1967, I brought to the attention of the Australian government that a portion of the wheat allocated to the People's Republic of China on humanitarian grounds was being redirected to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War Chapter 7- Vietnam - Vietcong

2.    Who else in the Australian government was aware that Australian wheat intended for a starving communist China was being redirected to North Vietnam to feed the North Vietnamese soldiers before those soldiers marched into the jungles of North Vietnam to kill and maim Australian, New Zealand, and United States of America troops? Refer to Footnote 82 to 85 FOOD AND TRADE IN LATE MAOIST CHINA, 1960-1978, prepared by Tianxiao Zhu, who even reports the name of our ship, the Hopepeak and how the seaman feared for our lives if we were forced to return to China with another cargo of Australian wheat. This wheat was being redeployed to North Vietnam during the period when Australia, New Zealand, and the United States of America fought the Vietnam Cong in the jungles of North Vietnam.   

3.   During the 1960s, the Australian Liberal-Country Party Government engaged in misleading conduct regarding trade with Communist China despite being cognizant that Australian merchant seamen had vehemently refused to transport Australian wheat to China. The grounds for such an objection were their apprehension that the wheat would be redirected to North Vietnam during the North Vietnam War between Australia, New Zealandand the United States of America. The underlying inquiry is to ascertain the government's rationale for deliberately deceiving the general public and jeopardising the country's troops whose lives were being lost in the conflict in North Vietnam.  Murdered for Mao: The killings China 'forgot'

4.    Why didn't Australia's Trade Minister, John McEwen, correctly and honestly advise the people of Australia why the crew of the British ship Hopepeak had refused to take any more Australian wheat to China because they had witnessed its redeployment to North Vietnam during their first visit to China?  

Quote Icon

“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

“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

“…the very large number of persons that had been forced into an arbitration process and have been obliged to settle as a result of the sheer weight that Telstra has brought to bear on them as a consequence where they have faced financial ruin if they did not settle…”

Senator Carr

“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

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