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Bribery and Corruption in Government.

Whilst bribing local officials as well as an arbitrator/mediators to procure government contracts and special favours from government-owned corporations has been considered over the years to be an unsavoury but unavoidable (and therefore acceptable) cost of doing business and securing future work from the government seems to be on the rise (example Chapter 5 - US Department of Justice vs Ericsson of Sweden). 


Chapter 7

Telstra’s defence

Telstra’s response to my claim arrived on 12 December, a bound document entitled ‘Telstra’s Legal Submission (1994)’. I felt sickened before I even opened it. I still hadn’t received most of the FOI documents I had requested, and here they were, making a response based on little more than half of my submission.

That was the least of their perfidies. Here arises the infamous story of the sticky beer in the phone.

Previously, in Chapter Five, I related the story of how Mr Mathieson of Austel helped me test two different Exicom model TF200 phones on one line to determine if the ‘lock-up’ fault I had been experiencing was being caused by the phone or the phone line. These ‘lock-ups’ had meant that people on the other end of the phone could hear what was going on in my office after I had hung up. When we had completed these tests, Mr Matherson was quite adamant that we had proved that the fault was in the line because it occurred with both phones. I later acquired documents that Telstra was aware that this fault often occurs in moisture-prone areas like Cape Bridgewater. 

My copy of Telstra’s Legal Submission, however, included a 29-page report titled ‘T200’. This document argued that the ‘lock-up’ problem with my phone/fax had been caused by spilt beer, found inside the phone's casing.

For the record, the phone was removed from my office on 27 April 1994 but not received into Telstra’s laboratories until 10 May 1994. According to the supplied photographs, they showed the outside of the phone was very dirty and, and according to the technicians, when they opened the phone up, the inside was ‘wet and sticky’. Analysis of the wet and sticky substance showed that it was beer and the conclusion was that the ‘beer’ had caused the ‘hook switch’ to lock up. So, my drinking habits were the cause of my phone problems. The technicians didn’t know that Mr Mathieson and I had tested two different phones on that line and found the same fault.

Moreover, when the phone left my office, it was quite clean — so how did it arrive at the laboratories in such a filthy state? If the ‘beer’ was not deliberately introduced, how did it get inside the phone? It certainly wasn’t even accidentally spilt there by me.

I put in a request with the arbitrator for a copy of the laboratory technician’s notes to see how they arrived at their conclusion. I explained I had appointed my own forensic document researcher to look over the documents. In response, I received another copy of the original report — another instance of one rule for COT claimants and another for Telstra. Only a few weeks before, the arbitrator had allowed Telstra’s forensic document researcher access to my personal diaries.

I cannot begin to explain the anger that simmered inside me. I needed to expose the lengths Telstra had gone to with this ‘beer-in-the-phone’ farce. I knew they had faked the evidence, but I couldn’t prove it. And no matter who I contacted about this — Senators, the arbitrator, the arbitrator’s secretary — no one cared to know.

Telstra was even saying ‘beer-in-the-phone’ was the cause of my ongoing fax problems, so I set about accessing Telstra’s technical analysis data covering the times when my fax problem was at its worst. This data showed that the ‘lock-up’ fault occurred in the network system since at least August 1993. So I asked the arbitrator to ask Telstra how ‘beer’ could stay wet and sticky inside my phone from August 1993 to May 1994.

In fact, this data wasn’t even necessary to prove my case. Telstra had supplied a new phone to replace the one they took away, and it was no surprise to me that, according to their own data, the lock-up problem remained after the ‘dirty’ phone was replaced. It was still a problem when I sold the business in 2001.

As to Telstra’s assertion that the telephone was ‘very dirty’, it is fortuitous that, just before the technician took the phone away for testing, I had attached a white label to the front advising staff this was the phone to use. It was perfectly clean, as the photo Telstra took when it arrived at its laboratory shows. They had failed to keep track of their deception. You don’t need a forensic document specialist to see the difference between the two photos provided by Telstra, reproduced here as (Main Evidence File No/17 and the Arbitrator File No/30). Yet I could find no-one willing to challenge Telstra on tampering with evidence in a legal process, which is a criminal act.

I had urgently and constantly requested the Exicom/TF200 laboratory testing results for my arbitration, which was not supplied by March 1995, so I lined up Paul Westwood, of Forensic Document Services to investigate my suspicion that Telstra’s TF200 report was fraudulent. The arbitrator, however, refused to appoint him, and there the matter remained, until November 1995, six months after my arbitration was declared final, when there came another instalment of the ‘beer in the phone’ saga.

In a bundle of FOI documents, a laboratory report showed that Telstra had carried out two investigations into my TF200. The second (on 24–26 May 1994) was two weeks after the first (10–12 May), and it proved that the first one — whose results had been provided to the arbitrator — was a total fabrication. Someone in Telstra had realised the first report was in some way dodgy and had authorised the second.

The second report, handwritten by Telstra laboratory staff, included graphs and photos, and it showed that when wet beer was introduced into the TF200 phone, it dried out completely in 48 hours. My phone, found to be ‘wet and sticky’ in the first report, had not been tested until 14 days after being taken from my office. There was no way it could have been ‘wet and sticky’ after two days, let alone two weeks.

My holiday camp was certainly in a pristine location 

Absent Justice - Cape Bridgewater Bay

The tests proved the fault was in Telstra's network

When I phoned AUSTEL’s Cliff Mathieson, a public servant at the government communications regulatory department, to talk about this hang-up fault on 26 April 1994, Mr Mathieson suggested he and I carry out a series of tests on the phone line. His plan was for me to would hang up and count aloud, from one to 10, while he listened. This first test proved he could hear me count right up to 10. He suggested we try it again and count even further this time. Still the same situation: he could hear me right through the range as I counted. Then he suggested I switch the phone on that line with a phone connected to another line. I did this and we repeated the counting test, with exactly the same results. It was apparent to both of us: the fault was not in the phone itself, but somewhere in the Telstra network. Mr Mathieson suggested that, as I was in arbitration at the time, I should bring this fault to the attention of Peter Gamble, Telstra’s chief engineer. Lindsay White, a Telstra whistleblower, named Peter Gamble, in a Senate, estimates committee hearing, as the man who said he and Telstra had to stop the first COT five claimants (including me), at all cost, from proving our claims (see Senate Hansard ERC&A 36, Front Page Part One File No/23 dated 24 June 1997).

Unaware of these orders to stop us five COT cases (at all cost), I switched the phones back to their original lines and phoned Mr Gamble, but did not tell him Mr Mathieson and I had already tested two phones on the 055 267230 line. Mr Gamble and I then carried out similar tests on the 055 267230 line. Mr Gamble said he would arrange for someone to collect the phone for testing purposes on the following day. FOI K00941, dated 26 March 1994, show someone (name redacted) believed this lock-up fault was being caused by a problem in the RCM exchange at Cape Bridgewater see Tampering With Evidence File No 1-A to 1-CDocument K00940, dated the day the tests were performed with Mr Mathieson and Mr Gamble, suggests that Mr Gamble believed the problem was caused by heat in the exchange see (File No-B) where document folio R37911, states:

“This T200 is an EXICOM and the other T200 [which was connected to my 267267 line] is an ALCATEL, we thought that this may be a design ‘fault???’ with the EXICOM so Ross tried a new EXICOM from his car and it worked perfectly, that is, released the line immediately on hanging up. We decided to leave the new EXICOM and the old phone was marked and tagged…” (see File No 1-C).

On 27 April 1994, Telstra collected my so-called faulty TF200 EXICOM telephone. Documents I later acquired, under FOI, show Telstra was aware this telephone fault often occurred in moisture-prone areas like Cape Bridgewater and they also knew that the local exchange suffered from heat problems. When I received my copy of Telstra’s 12 December 1994 defence of my government-endorsed arbitration process, I found it included a 29-page report titled TF200. This document reported Telstra’s laboratory testing showed the lock-up problem with my service lines was due to my actual TF200 phone.

Six years after my arbitration was supposed to have fixed this problem, I discovered this lock-up issue was not fixed at all, even though Telstra claimed to investigate it on 27 April 1994. At this time, they disconnected the EXICOM TF200 phone from the fax machine and replaced it with another EXICOM TF200, which remained connected to the fax machine until August 2001, when Telstra and I tested the 55 267230 lines, again, and proved that it was still locking up.

Photographs included in Telstra’s report show the outside of the phone was very dirty. According to the laboratory technicians, when they opened the phone up, the inside was wet and sticky. Analysis of the substance showed that it was beer and the conclusion was that beer caused the hookswitch to lock up. The obvious implication here was that my drinking habits were the cause of all my phone problems. The laboratory technicians appeared not to know that the government communications regulatory department and I had already tested two different phones on that line and still found the same fault.

Telstra FOI folio D01026/27 (Tampering With Evidence File No 2confirms Telstra knew there were lock-up problems in moisture-prone areas affecting the EXICOM T200s manufactured after week seven of 1993. This document confirms one of the known lock-up side effects to this problem was that, while the line was that in locked-up mode, the line remained open so one party could hear the room noise of the locked-up party, after the call was, supposedly, terminated. Document D01026 confirms that instead of destroying these faulty EXICOM phones, Telstra allowed their technical staff to re-deploy some 45,000 phones back into service in areas where local technicians believed moisture was not a problem.

During my government-endorsed arbitration, I received Telstra document FOI folio number R37911, under FOI. This document shows that on the day after retrieving the TF200, Ross Anderson, a Telstra technician from Portland, tested the TF200 EXICOM fax phone at least 18 times without it once displaying this lock-up fault. Telstra FOI document folio K00942/3 Tampering With Evidence File No/1-C suggests the lock-up problem could have been related to heat or moisture or a combination of both. There is no mention in this document suggesting that alcohol spillage might have caused this problem.

Who poured the sticky beer into the EXICOM TF200 telephone 

Absent Justice - TF200 EXICOM telephone

Lies and more lies from Telstra 

After Mr Anderson completed his testing on 27 April, the phone took a further nine days to reach Telstra’s laboratory. It arrived on 6 May and laboratory testing did not commence for another four days. Ray Bell, the author of the TF 200 report, was adamant at point 1.3, under the heading Initial Inspection, that:

“The suspect TF200 telephone when received was found to be very dirty around the keypad with what appeared to be a sticky substance, possibly coffee.” (See Tampering With Evidence File No 3)

A second photo received by me, under FOI, is a photo taken from the front of the same TF200 phone, confirming a note I placed on the phone was quite clean when it was received at Telstra see Open Letter File No/37  exhibits 3, 4, 5 and 6.

This report raises a number of questions. When the phone left my office, it was quite clean. Why did it arrive at the laboratory in such a filthy state? How did the beer get inside the phone? Who would have a reason to pour beer into the phone and why? If the addition of beer was not deliberate, how did it get inside the phone? The main aim of Telstra’s submitted report, used as evidence, was to prove Telstra’s service was not the fault.

As soon as I read this beer-in-the-phone report, I put in a request to the arbitrator, asking to see a copy of all the laboratory technician’s handwritten notes so he could see how Telstra had actually arrived at their conclusion. I had appointed my own forensic document researcher to look over the documents when I received them and he provided me with his CV credentials, as well as signing a confidentiality agreement, stating he would not disclose his findings to anyone outside of the arbitration procedure. Although I passed all this information on to the arbitrator, the only response I received from the arbitrator and Telstra was a duplicate copy of the report I had already received as part of Telstra’s defence.

On 28 November 1995, six months after my arbitration ended, I received Telstra’s arbitration TF200 EXICOM report. This report confirms Telstra carried out two separate investigations of my EXICOM TF200 telephone, two weeks apart and the second test report, dated between 24 and 26 May 1994, proved that the first one, the report provided to the arbitrator, was not a true account of the testing process at all, but a total fabrication. Photos and graphs by Telstra laboratory staff proved wet beer introduced into the TF200 phone dried out completely in 48 hours. As mentioned above, Telstra collected my phone from my business on 27 April 1994, but it was not tested until 10 May – a gap of 14 days. Various pages (see Tampering With Evidence File No/5confirm that, even though Telstra knew its second investigation proved the first arbitration report, dated between 10 and 12 May 1994, was more than fundamentally flawed, it still submitted the first flawed report to the arbitrator as Telstra’s true findings.

The marked Telstra FOI documents folio A64535 to A64562 (see Tampering With Evidence File No/5), are clear evidence that Telstra did do two separate TF200 tests on my collected phone two weeks apart. FOI folio A64535 confirms with this handwritten Telstra laboratory file note, dated 26 May 1994, that when wet beer was poured into a TF200 phone the wet substance dried up within 48 hours. The air vents within the phone itself allowed for the beer to escape. In other words, how could my TF200, collected on 27 April 1994, have been wet inside the phone on 10 May 1994 when it was tested at Telstra’s laboratories?

My eyes were sore from fighting an out-of-control fire 

Absent Justice - A disturbing twist

Lies and more lies from Telstra

Another disturbing side to this tampering with arbitration evidence by Telstra is that for many years before this tampering took place, I was a volunteer for the Cape Bridgewater Country Fire Authority (CFA). The following chapters show that during my arbitration Telstra twisted the reason I could not be present for the testing of my TF200 telephone at my premises on a scheduled meeting on the morning of 27 April 1994. Telstra only reported in their file notes (later submitted to the arbitrator) that I refused to allow Telstra to test the phones because I was tired. There was no mention in these file notes that I advised the fault response unit that I had been fighting an out-of-control fire for 14 hours or that my sore eyes made it impossible to observe such testing by Telstra. I fought the fire the previous evening from 6 pm to 9 am the following morning.

It is clear from our Tampering With Evidence page that not only did Telstra set out to discredit me by implying I was just too tired to have my TF200 phone tested, but after Telstra removed the phone, it was tampered with before it arrived at Telstra’s Melbourne laboratories: someone from Telstra poured beer into the phone. Telstra then alleged, in its arbitration defence report, that sticky beer was the cause of the phone’s ongoing lock-up problems, not the Cape Bridgewater network. This one wicked deed, along with the threats I received from Telstra during my arbitration, is a testament that my claims should have been investigated years ago. So, even though I carried out my civic duties as an Australian citizen, over and beyond by supplying vital evidence to the AFP, as well as fighting out-of-control fires, I was still penalised on both those occasions during my arbitration.

The other twist to this part of my story is, how could I have spilt beer into my telephone as Telstra's arbitration defence documents state, when I had been fighting an out of control fire? I cerainly would not have been driving the CFA truck or assisting by fire buddies had I been drining beer. Reading this part of my story will give the reader some idea of the dreadful conduct that we COT Cases had to put up with from Telstra as we battled for a relaible phone service. 

And then, as if all this un-addressed skulduggery and secret plotting has not been difficult enough to live with for these past twenty-four years, let us take a look at the senior Telstra engineer who organised the removal of my tampered-with TF200 phone and then arranged things so that it would be held in his office from that day, 27 April 1994, until 6 May 1994 when, finally, it actually reached Telstra’s laboratories. It is important to look at this engineer because it turns out, this was the same Telstra Chief Arbitration Engineer who swore under oath, in his Witness Statement of 12 December 1994, that the Service Verification Testing process that he conducted during my arbitration had met all of the mandatory Government requirements but, somehow, the CCAS data for the day in question does not show that any SVT processes as being conducted at all, neither in connection to my phone lines nor according to Government specifications nor, for that matter, according to ANY specifications at all. Then the plot thickens, because it turns out that this is also the same Telstra engineer who, during a Senate Committee hearing on 24 June 1997, (see:- pages 36 and 38 Senate – Parliament of Australia was named by an ex-Telstra employee (Lindsey White) as the person who told Mr White that I was one of the Five COT Cases, who had to be stopped at all cost from proving our arbitration claims and, astonishingly, this is, again, the same Telstra engineer who visited my business on 6 April 1995 with the TIO-appointed arbitration resource unit, but then refused to conduct any of the suggested tests on the service line, at my business, that this tampered-with TF200 had been connected to.

Pages 5163 to 5169 SENATE official Hansard – Parliament of Australia. proves beyond all doubt that systemic criminal conduct did exist within the Telstra Corporation prior to and during our arbitrations.

After we four COT cases had signed our arbitration agreement, neither AUSTEL, as the government communications regulator nor the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (the administrator of our arbitrations) warned us that our arbitration fax and phone interception issues would be broadcast to the media as well as discussed in parliament.

Now let me make the following point quite clear, AUSTEL (now the Australian Communication and Media Authority – ACMA) was back then, and still is, promoted as Australia’s independent communications regulator, so I believed that they would reveal the truth, not just for me but also on behalf of all of Telstra’s customers. That, however, did not happen because not even one of the bureaucrats from AUSTEL/ACMA spoke up back then and, since then? Still, none of them have ever commented on the situation the COTs found themselves in.

Imagine, however, if even just one of the many bureaucrats from AUSTELL/ACMA had come forward and actually told the truth about the cause of my ongoing telephone problems, as they should have, of course, I would still own and be operating my beloved Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp. All I needed was just that one brave and honest bureaucrat, and I would have been able to appeal the arbitrator’s appalling findings that claimed that there was then, and had never been, anything wrong with the phone system that my business was connected to.

Beyond the beer in the phone deception, many other misleading statements were made under oath by Telstra’s defence unit and their technicians and included in their Legal Submission. Most disturbing of these were the signed Statutory Declarations made by some of the local technicians. They knew from experience that Telstra’s network system into the local exchange was not up to standard. These technicians who still signed these legal documents insisted everything (except for some minor, everyday type faults) had been all right during the period covered by my claim.

One local technician went so far as to say that he knew of no other business in the Cape Bridgewater area that reported the type and number of phone problems that I had. His statement even included mention of a friend, a stock farm agent, who had never had phone problems in Cape Bridgewater. When I checked Telstra’s own fault data, however, this very friend had, in fact, complained seven times in a matter of weeks during early 1994, including complaints about his fax line. 

Another three local technicians stated under oath that back in 1988 when I moved to the area, the old RAX exchange at Cape Bridgewater had five incoming and five outgoing lines. Any ensuing congestion would not have affected my service much during business hours. In fact, the exchange had only four lines in and out, and Telstra’s archives show congestion was a problem between the Cape Bridgewater and Portland exchanges. 

The worrying thing is that if these three technicians truly believed their story, they were not very good at their jobs. Someone should have noticed there were only eight final selectors!

My reply to Telstra’s defence, January 1995

By chance, it was during this time I saw the American movie Class Action, the story of a pharmaceutical company that knew the dangerous side-effects of one of its drugs but continued to sell the drug anyway. A chemist preparing a report for the company finds a flaw in the drug production, and the company chose to ‘lose’ the report rather than spend the money to correct the flaw—business as usual. What struck me about this story was how the pharmaceutical company swamped the lawyer representing the patients with thousands of documents at the very last minute. The lawyer had a very hard job finding a key report in time. According to the movie, this process of ‘burying’ important documents is called ‘dumping’.

Just before Christmas, and eleven days after they had submitted their legal defence, Telstra ‘dumped’ approximately 24,000 discovery documents on me — the very documents I had been waiting for to make my submission complete. And, of course, the material I needed was buried in masses of irrelevant documents.

Clearly, this was a ploy. Telstra thought that by supplying them after I’d made my submission, it wouldn’t have to defend those documents, especially given I had only two weeks in which to submit my reply to Telstra’s defence.

The festive season is always the busiest time for bookings. Fortunately, Cathy had, by this time, moved into the camp house. Without her assistance, I would never have survived through this time. Christmas slid past in a blur, and I found myself with still thousands of discovery documents to sort through. It was a miserable job.

On 6 January, I sent the arbitrator a list of procedural documents I needed to support my response, asking him to request these documents from Telstra. By my deadline, however, I was still waiting and had to file my response without them. I was at a loss to know where to turn for help. Again and again, I was faced with the same tactics. Stonewalling and silence. (The documents I requested did eventually turn up two years later.)

However, the arbitrator did respond to a letter I sent asking for more information about the Bell Canada report. In his reply on 23 January 1995, he said: 

‘Telecom does not consider it has any further information of relevance in its possession.’ He asked me to respond to this within 24 hours in order to ‘be certain that there is no confusion between the parties as to the documentation which is being sought.’

I did respond, within 24 hours, asking for all the raw data Telstra had concerning the BCI testing at Cape Bridgewater. And heard no more about it. No data, no response of any kind.

My fax account shows that my response left my office and travelled to the arbitrator’s fax machine. Twelve months after my arbitration procedure was completed, I learned that Telstra did not receive this response. Then, on 28 June 1995, I learned that the arbitrator, apparently, had not received the fax either. The newly appointed TIO, wrote to me:

Dr Hughes provided you with a copy of this submission on 23 January 1995, noting that Telecom did not consider it had any further information of relevance in its possession. (The arbitrator) then invited you, within twenty-four hours to respond to Telecom’s submission. Our files does [sic] not indicate that you took the matter any further

This level of displacement is astonishing. What happened to my fax? I might have imagined it simply got lost in the ether. In August 1995, three months after my arbitration, within a bundle of documents sent from the arbitrator’s office, was a copy of the actual letter I sent to Dr Hughes, with the fax-footprint: ‘24-01-1995 – 15:12 – FROM CAPE BRIDGE HDAY CAMP TO 036148730’. Confirming the arbitrator's office did receive it as Front Page Part One File No/2-A to 2-E shows.

Despite this irrefutable proof, the TIO’s office has refused to provide me answers to why this most important BCI letter was never acted on. Had it been, the whole outcome of my arbitration might have been different.

A visit by FHCA the indepedent arbitration financial accountants

In February 1995, I was visited by people from the financial arbitration unit (we shall call them - FHCA) to assess my financial losses resulting from the failures in my phone service. A representative from Telstra came separately and was delayed by poor landing conditions at the local airport. FHCA was supposed to provide a list of who they interviewed and where they went on their trip to Cape Bridgewater, and I had been led to believe that they provided just such a list to Telstra, but I never saw any documentation myself.

Under the arbitration rules, neither the resource unit, the technical advisory unit or FHCA was allowed to be alone with Telstra or with me. Still, there was not much we could do about the two-hour delay between the time the FHCA and the Telstra people arrived, except for FHCA’s solitary inspection of the general area. When the Telstra representative finally arrived, I saw FHCA’s true colours: everything I said was ignored or negated. FHCA already had fixed ideas about this case. The way they played down my business in front of the Telstra representative clearly indicated what was to come.

Bearing in mind that FHCA and Telstra were not supposed to spend time together without me, I had arranged lunch at the camp. However, my offer was declined and the others all adjourned to the Kiosk by the beach, contrary to the rules of the arbitration. What could I do? They all returned later and left together for Melbourne.

Well into 1995, I was still struggling to collate all the FOI documents I was still receiving, so late into the process, into some sort of sensible order. As I understood it, the arbitrator was not accepting any more material in support of my claim. However, I was still being charged for calls that never connected, and I hoped for another oral hearing. I phoned the arbitrator to ask for access to the technical resource unit, for their help in best presenting all this evidence of ongoing problems; I explained that I could not afford to pay my own technical adviser any longer.

The arbitrator told me that the technical resource unit would be visiting Cape Bridgewater shortly and we could discuss the presentation of my material then. Before that visit occurred, however, DMR Australia pulled out of the process and a new technical unit was commissioned by the TIO’s office: (we shall call them LS Telecommunications), run by a man who had worked for Telstra for 20 years. (DMR Australia) had pulled out because Telstra offered them valuable contracts and DMR saw a conflict of interest. I had to wonder: did Telstra deliberately set up this ‘conflict of interest’ situation? And, how could DMR pull out of a signed contract?)

Although we have addressed the following Ericsson v Lanes Telecommunications ownership in our Prologue above, it is such an important conflict of interest issues that affected most if not all the COT arbitrations. We needed to again highlight this terrible situation as we have done below.   

The TIO’s letter of 16 July 1997, to William Hunt, Graham Schorer’s solicitor advised that Lane was presently involved in a number of arbitrations noting that: ‘the change of ownership is of concern’ and that...’

The first area of concern is that some of the equipment under examination in the arbitrations is provided by Ericsson.…

The second area of concern is that Ericsson has a pecuniary interest in Telstra. Ericsson makes a large percentage of its equipment sales to Telstra which is one of its major clients.

It is my view that Ericsson’s ownership of Lane puts Lane in a position of potential conflict of interest should it continue to act as Technical Advisor to the Resource Unit. …

The effect of a potential conflict of interest is that Lane should cease to act as the Technical Advisor with effect from a date shall [sic] be determined. (See exhibit GS 296-a file GS-CAV 258 to 323)

What is just as alarming is: how long was Lane in contact with Ericsson before Ericsson purchased Lanes? Is there a link between Lanes ignoring my Ericsson AXE claim documents and the purchase of Lanes by Ericsson during the COT arbitration process?

In Chapter Seven of the AUSTEL COT Cases Report, dated April 1994, AUSTEL notes my business and a number of other COT businesses suffered major network problems associated with Ericsson AXE equipment. At point 7:40, when discussing my AXE Ericsson problems, it notes:

“AUSTEL recently became aware that Telecom (Telstra) had prepared an internal document on the subject of this AXE fault and on 21 March 1994 sought a copy from Telstra.” (See Exhibit 9 - AXE Evidence File 1 to 9)

This is the Ericsson AXE problems I wanted Lane to investigate while they were at Cape Bridgewater. Only Lane, and perhaps the arbitrator and Telstra might be able to shed some light on the subject to why neither of them would discuss these serious Ericsson AXE problems. My claim documents clearly showed the Ericsson NEAT testing equipment that Telstra used at Cape Bridgewater gave our readings that were impracticable. No one commented during my arbitration on this irritable evidence I provided to the process.

Ann, Graham and I told the TIO we did not want our claims assessed by an ex-Telstra employee and so DMR Group Canada was brought in to lead the process, with Lane merely assisting. As it turned out, however, and contrary to the written agreement given by the TIO, Lid did 99.5% of the assessments. Once more the TIO had misled the COT Cases.

One of the most important statements made by the second appointed administrator to the COT arbitrations John Pinnock, was his statement to Senate Estimates Committee on 26 September 1997 (see page 96 COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA - Parliament of Australia


Lane Telecommunications, which is one part of the technical component of the resource unit, has withdrawn from the process as a result of a conflict or perceived conflict of interest after being purchased from Pacific Star by Ericsson Australia, the major supplier of equipment to Telstra, including equipment whose performance is central to some of the claim.

What prompted Mr Pinnock to use the wording in the Senate perceived conflict of interest’ when he had already written to the COT Cases lawyer stating it was his ‘view that Ericsson’s ownership of Lane puts Lane in a position of potential conflict of interest should it continue to act as Technical Advisor to the Resource Unit’?

Senator Richard Alston, the then Shadow Minister for Communications, had challenged Ericsson’s AXE equipment. In his question on notice in the Senate on my behalf, only a month before I entered arbitration (see point 25 exhibit 4-B, in file Misleading and Deceptive Conduct File 4-A to 4-L).

The government should have halted the sale of Lane because exhibits 4-E and 4-D in Misleading and Deceptive Conduct File 4-A to 4-L show Ericsson believed the problems with its AXE equipment could represent between 15 and 50 per cent call losses in some exchanges. That is a damning admission.  

It’s important we use this Senate segment again even though we need to move forward two years at this point of time in our story to the 24 June 1997, so as we can view the statements made on pages 36 and 38 of official Senate - Parliament of Australia/Hansard records. These show an ex-Telstra employee and then-Whistle-blower, Lindsay White, told the committee (under oath) that, while he was assessing the relevance of the technical information which had been requested by the COT claimants, that:

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

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

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

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

Mr White - "Mr Peter Gamble and a subordinate of his, Peter Riddle. That was the introduction process”.

It is clear from Mr White's statement he identified me as one of the five COT claimants that Telstra had singled out to be ‘stopped at all costs’ from proving my claim against Telstra’. One of the named Peter's in this Senate Hansard is the same Peter Gamble who submitted a false witness statement to the arbitrator concerning the failed SVT testing at my premises on 29 September 1994. The same Peter Gamble who on 6 April 1995 arrived at my Cape Bridgewater holiday camp, and together, we collected a representative from Lane from the airport.

The three of us inspected the exchanges at Cape Bridgewater and Portland and had discussions with the local technician (the one with the stock farm agent friend who never had problems with his phone), when Telstra documents show otherwise.

While the Lane representative was in Cape Bridgewater, I attempted to raise the incorrect billing issues. But apparently, the arbitrator had instructed Lane not to assess any new claim material. I was angry, for the arbitrator had assured me that if I discovered any new information among FOI documents, that information could be presented to the technical resource unit when they came to the camp. I had worked night after night to have my evidence prepared before the technical team arrived and it was clear to me that this new information clearly supported my allegations. I was so angry, to the point of excusing myself to dry reach in my residence adjacent to the holiday camp.

Neither the Telstra official Peter nor the Lane representative was prepared to comment on this evidence during my arbitration, although I was assured that the matter would be addressed. They left shortly after this, together — and without me, which was in direct breach of arbitration rules. Who knows what private conversations may have taken place between them? On so many counts, now, I was convinced that the arbitration was a sham, with the single aim of ‘shutting me up’ to stop the floodgates being opened." That was how serious the Ericsson problem was.

But after they left I had an idea. The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office had been supportive of my allegations concerning Telstra’s failure to supply discovery documents in a timely manner. Throughout this whole awful saga they had, again and again, proved themselves to be impartial and concerned primarily with natural justice.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office was preparing a report on Telstra’s tardy provision of COT’s discovery documents under the FOI Act, and I guessed that it would keep a copy of every document I had faxed them or they had faxed me. I, therefore, asked them to use my 1800 number for any calls to me because I guessed they would also document any calls they made concerning my complaints. I was betting that the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office’s tally of those calls would not match up with my 1800 account.

And indeed, two years later, on 28 February 1997, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office presented a document to Telstra, covering all communications between my office and theirs, as part of their report to Telstra’s Corporate Customer Affairs Office. This report documented all faxes to and from me and all calls to and from my office — they made 43 calls to my 1800 account.

Bingo! Over this same period, Telstra charged me for 92 calls from the Ombudsman on my 1800 account. In their investigation, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office confirmed these events.

So, it had been a sound idea, not that it helped my case. Telstra has still not refunded me for these wrongly charged calls at the time of writing, nor made any attempt to explain the discrepancy. Nor has this matter been investigated by the TIO’s office. However, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s data demonstrated that incorrect charging on both my 1800 line and my fax line (in every instance, favouring Telstra) continued for at least 18 months after the arbitrator handed down my ‘award’. Since this incorrect charging was one of the issues I raised in the arbitration, and it was not addressed or included in the ‘award’, I do not consider the arbitration procedure is yet complete. I have written several letters to the TIO’s office about this matter, to no avail.

It was clear from the following statement made by Telstra in FOI folio A00354 that senior management were concerned just how bad their rural network was i.e.

I understand there is a new tariff filing to be lodged today with new performance parameters one which commits to 98% call completion at the individual customer level.

“Given my experience with customer disputes and the BCI study, this is a cause for concern. We will not meet this figure in many exchanges around Australia particularly in country areas”.

A further Telstra FOI document folio P03022 is an internal email dated 23 September noting:

“In the current climate Telecom needs to be particularly careful with its correspondence to the CoT customers. I have engaged (this legal firm) to participate on an “as required” basis in this matter and it is appropriate that all correspondence from the CoT (and near CoT) customers should be channelled through (the person I had to register my phone complaints with) for either drafting of the reply from Telecom or for the reply direct from (this same lawyer) as our agent.”(Arbitrator File No/81)

It goes on to say:

“Would you please ensure that with all customers that are, (or have the potential to become) serious complaints, correspondence is processed through (Telstra’ outside lawyers) with initial acknowledgement by the Region.”

 Bribing local officials as well as an arbitrator/mediators to procure government contracts and special favours during arbitration is on the rise.

Next Page ⟶
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?  

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“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

“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

“…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

“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

“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

“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

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