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COT Case Strategy

This part of the COT story is still actively being covered up. Two of the original four Casualties of Telstra (COT for short) group have died. The other has dementia. I have this intense feeling inside that I must tell our story the way it happened not the way the archives of the Department of Communications, Technology and the Arts (DCITA) and the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman office has recorded this event. Australia’s history regarding the COT Cases government-endorsed arbitration has been doctored. One of my many Freedom of Information (FOT) request to the DCITA asked for a copy of the archive records regarding by the government regarding my 1994 Telstra v Alan Smith (Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp) government arbitration process. What I received back from the government was a very, sanitized set of untruths about my arbitration. 


Learn about government corruption and the dirty deeds used by the government to cover up these horrendous injustices committed against 16 Australian citizens who have been expected to live without ever seeing the justices promised them before they signed their arbitration agreements.

Absent Justice - 12 Remedies Persued - 8

A Broken Promise 

In July 2005, 14 COT members met with Senator Barnaby Joyce in Brisbane (Queensland, Australia), and each provided him with their stories. The senator visibly became very emotional during this meeting and afterwards made a historic agreement with the Australian government: if the government agreed to appoint an independent assessor to investigate these 14 COT cases, then the senator would provide his one crucial vote needed by the government to pass the Telstra privatisation legislation in the Senate.

What shocked Senator Joyce into demanding the government investigate the COT arbitrations claims is the evidence provided by the COT Cases which showed Telstra arbitration witness statements had been fudged, altered and in my case only signed by the lawyer attesting to the signature of the Telstra witness making the statements when no signature was on the document at all. What also shocked Senator Joyce was the lawyer from Freehill Hollingdale & Page who signature was on the undigned witness statement was from the same lawfirm whose "COT Case Strategy" was a set up by Telstra and their lawyers to hide all proof that the COT Cases truly did have ongoing telephone problems affecting the viability of their businesses. 

Learn about government corruption and the dirty deeds used by the government to cover up these horrendous injustices committed against 16 Australian citizens who have been expected to live without ever seeing the justices promised them before they signed their arbitration agreements. As shown in government records, the government assured the COT Cases (see point 40 Prologue Evidence File No/2), Freehill Holingdale & Page would have no further involvement in the COT issues the same legal firm which when they provided Ian Joblin, clinical psychologist's witness statement to the arbitrator, it was only signed by Maurice Wayne Condon, of Freehill's. 

I reiterate, It bore no signature of the psychologist Ian Joblin. 

Did Maurice Wayne Condon remove or alter any reference to what Ian Joblin had originally written about me being of sound mind?

On 21 March 1997, twenty-two months after the conclusion of my arbitration, John Pinnock, (the second appointed administrator to my arbitration), wrote to Telstra's Ted Benjamin (see File 596 AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647) asking: 

1...any explanation for the apparent discrepancy in the attestation of the witness statement of Ian Joblin [clinical psychologist’s].

2...were there any changes made to the Joblin statement originally sent to Dr Hughes [the arbitrator] compared to the signed statement?" 

This letter of 21 March 1997 from John Pinnock appeared to have upset Senator Joyce in July 2005; his voice told his anger when he said are you telling me you have never received advice from John Pinnock as to how this beach of the rule of law happened? It was this type of issue that all of the COT Cases had examples of where the arbitrator and the administrator had mistreated the COT during their arbitration and mediation processes that prompted the Senator to use his crucial vote so that we all received some sought of justice

It is October 2022, and I have still never seen a copy of the advice that John Pinnock was officially entitled to receive from Telstra regarding this unsigned arbitration witness statement.

However, as the Hon Barnaby Joyce (who has since been Deputy Prime Minister of Australia) will attest, as soon as he cast his crucial Telstra privatization vote in the Senate, the government reneged on its official commitment to appoint an independent assessor to value the status of each unresolved 14 claims (see Chapter 8 - The eighth remedy pursued The only compromise the government agreed to after this crucial vote had been passed is that the government's bureaucrats would assess each of the COT Case's claims which in reality was no different than allowing a bunch of theives the keys to the safe they were about to rob, and rob they did taking all of the loot with them. 

The DCITA Independent Assessment process orchestrated by the government was set up to gain the crucial vote needed by the government from Senator Barnaby Joyce to enable the government to sell off the remaining part of Telstra used exhibit AS 639 File  AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647, headed “Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts – Casualties of Telstra (COT) Background And Information For Ministers Office” as a guide to the validity of the COT case arbitration issues including my previous arbitration and fax interception issues. Senator Joyce cast his vote on the promise the government assess the remaining unresolved 14 COT Cases claims. However, Exhibit (AS 639AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647 does not include what we have shown here on this website, including AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings.

Absent Justice - My Story - Parliament House Canberra

Telstra was privatized on a lie 

Eighteen months the crucial vote had been stolen off of Senator Joyce and after my DCITA assessment process was finalized, my previously DCITA advisor to that process, Ronda Fienberg, had connected a request read receipt notification link to her email which allowed her to know when her emails were opened or deleted sent me the following two emails dated 1 February 2008 (see File GS 562 GS-CAV 522 to 580. Those receipts from the DCITA were sent initially by Ronda on April 2006 and July 2006 to the DCITA as part of my assessment process. These email receipts show that the government deleted those two claim documents on 1 February 2008 without ever being read as part of my DCITA claim.

How can the current government argue with this fresh evidence which confirms my DCITA claim before the government in 2006 was not fully valued?). That part of my claim was deleted before being viewed.

It became obvious many problems experienced by the COT cases originated from either negligence or deliberate malfeasant on the part of a number of government agencies. Therefore, I have used page 3 of the Australian Herald Sun newspaper dated 22 December 2008, which was written about the same time Ronda was receiving these email receipts back from the government [unread]. 

It is important we conclude the Home page here and introduce in the following Unprecedented Deception  LEARN MORE → link regarding the bribery and corruption issues the US Department of Justice raised against Ericsson on 19 December 2019 as recorded in the Australian media:

The following Chapter 3 Betrayal - Breach of Trust has been copied from Taking on the Establishment. I have used Chapter 3 Betrayal - Breach of Trust, because it is a quick reference showing how the then government communications regulator AUSTEL (now ACMA) abused its power when dealing with fellow Australian citizens in the early 1990s when the COT story began. Clicking on LEARN MORE →  below will take you to Unprecedented Deception, which goes even further into the bowels of how AUSTEL's public servants took over as lawyers and judges during the COT arbitrations when most of if not all, of those government bureaucrats had any training or qualifications whatsoever in legal matters.

On 28 September 1992, Amanda Davis was AUSTEL's General Manager of Consumer Affairs, telephoned me to discuss evidence I had provided AUSTEL (then the government communications regulator) some days previous (see File 14 - AS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 47. The first document in File 14 is a typed Telstra fault record showing several faults experienced on my incoming phone service line 055 267 267, including three calls from Amanda Davis. It is clear from the discussion on this typed fault record that the first two S-D long-distance calls dropped out, where it is noted Amanda Davis only heard the pips on the line but did not connect on either call. Her third call was successful. However, it is confirmed from File 14 that Amanda Davis was charged for both non-connected calls.

Absent Justice - My Story - The Briefcase Affair

This billing evidence was only the tip of the iceberg,

This type of conclusive evidence showing Telstra had a billing problem in their Ericsson AXE exchange equipment might have gone unnoticed for longer than it had had Telstra not inadvertently left a briefcase at my holiday camp on 3 June 1993, where AS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 47 was hiding amongst some other startling evidence showing Telstra and its board of directors had been misleading and deceiving the Australian government and its citizens for many years. This billing evidence was only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.    

To keep me and the other COT Cases from accessing similar fault data from Telstra under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI Act) Telstra's lawyers put forward a plan:  As shown on page 5169 in Australia's Government SENATE official Hansard – Parliament of Australia.Telstra's lawyers devised a legal paper titled “COT Case Strategy” (see Prologue Evidence File 1-A to 1-C) instructing their client Telstra (naming me and three other businesses) on how Telstra could conceal technical information from us under the guise of Legal Professional Privilege even though the information we were seeking was not privileged. 

In a dispute that is settled by an umpire (like arbitration), it is usually mandatory that any information supplied by one party, must be automatically circulated to the other party (see Absent Justice Part 2 - Chapter 13 - Believe it or not). This was certainly so, according to the rules of my arbitration. More to the point in my case, information also had to be supplied to the TIO’s legal counsel. Among the documents I obtained from the arbitrator’s office that day, I found a brown envelope full of documents and loose papers, none of which had ever been forwarded to me. This envelope contained copies of a number of letters from Telstra to the arbitrator, including one letter dated 16 December 1994 (see File 46-F to 46-J - Open letter File No/46-A to 46-l), which indicated there were three attachments:

In their earlier letter of 1 December, AUSTEL was aware that a number of other Telstra customers in the Portland area had also complained about incorrect charging on their 008 services and so it is not surprising to find them raising their concern about this in their letter of 8 December (see File 46-I Open letter File No/46-A to 46-l which states:

“A major consideration in Austel’s pursuit of the issue raised by Mr Smith was the likelihood that these problems, if proved to exist, would almost certainly affect a number of other Telstra customers.”

The only conclusion that can be reached as to why the arbitrator disallowed DMR & Lane his technical arbitration unit the extra weeks they said was in their 30 April 1995 report was needed to investigate my 1800 faults before the report was complete is to have allowed DMR & Lane that extra time would have exposed what AUSTEL had already advised the arbitrator in File 46-I Open letter File No/46-A to 46-l"was the likeihood that these problems, if proved to exist, would almost certainly affect a number of other Telstra customers"  This meant that the arbitrators would have had to have awarded me substantually highter than what he finally awarded without taking these ongoing billing issues into account. 

Worst than that, before the arbitrator submitted the DMR & Lane report into the arbitration process for official discussion he removed the wording the report needed extra weeks to investigate my billing isssues as well as the wording the report was noy yet complete submitting it still dtated 30 April 1995

What the arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes did not forsee is that the following link Evidence - C A V Part 1, 2 and 3 -Chapter 4 - Fast Track Arbitration Procedure confirms Frank Blount, Telstra’s CEO, after leaving Telstra in he, co-published a manuscript in 1999. entitled, Managing in Australia. On pages 132 and 133, the author exposes the problems Telstra were hiding from their 1800 customers when noting:

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

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

Absent Justice

Fax Identification Footprint Is Visible 

In my case, another Alan Smith (no relative) who was living on Cape Bridgewater Road, was also battling Telstra and receiving letters from a leading Victoria (Warrnambool) law firm acting for a debt collector and issuing letters of demand for non-paid Telstra billing accounts. It is clear from two of those letters of demand the Freehill Hollingdale & Page fax identification footprint is visible on these documents. This other Alan Smith later informed me after my arbitration concluded that he sometimes received my arbitration-related documents from Telstra during my arbitration.

Had the arbitrator investigated my claims that I was not receiving my arbitration-related documents, and that very sensitive documentation had been removed by an unknown source from three different COT Cases premises which they had also needed to support their arbitration claims, that investigation might well have uncovered Telstra’s arbitration defence lawyers Freehills Hollindgale & Page was mistakenly (or deliberately) sending some of my relevant arbitration material to this other Alan Smith, who Freehill was aware was complaining of the same ongoing disputed billing faults. These were the same ongoing billing problems that the arbitrator refused to allow his arbitration technical consultants the extra weeks they stated was needed to fully investigate (Chapter 1 - The collusion continues).

How many other Telstra customers likes us two Alan Smith's from Cape Bridgewater were subjected to the pressures applied to us to pay billing accounts that Telstra knew could possibly be wrongly caclculated? Millions upon millions of dollars over the four years that Telstra and AUSTEL knew this was a national problems must have accumerlated in the government coffers.

As I have shown in Unprecedented Deception and Chapter 2 - Bell Canada International Inc when AUSTEL began investigating the Ericsson AXE exchange faults data which the COT Cases had provided AUSTEL they and the COT Cases uncovered some 120,000 COT-type complaints were being experienced around Australia.

Exhibit (Introduction File No/8-A to 8-C), shows AUSTEL's Chairman Robin Davey received a letter from Telstra's Group General Manager (who was also Telstra's principal arbitration defence liaison officer), suggesting AUSTEL alter that finding for 120,000 COT-type complaints to show a hundred. If fact, when the public AUSTEL COT Cases report was launched on 13 April 1994, it indicated AUSTEL located up-wards of 50 or more COT-type complaints being experienced around Australia. 

50 COT-type customer complaints in comparison to 120,000 COT-type customer Ericsson AXE complaints is one hell of a lie told by the government to its citizens who voted them into power.

I beleive it was this type false reporting by the government regulator AUSTEL i.e.; 50 or more COT-type customer complaints instead of 120,000COT-type customer complaints that prompted Amanda Davis to write the following letter.

On 15 July 1995 Amanda Davis AUSTEL's previous General Manager of Consumer Affairs provided me with an open letter noting:

“I am writing this in support of Mr Alan Smith, who I believe has a meeting with you during the week beginning 17 July.  I first met the COT Cases in 1992 in my capacity as General Manager, Consumer Affairs at Austel. The “founding” group were Mr Smith, Mrs Ann Garms of the Tivoli Restaurant, Brisbane, Mrs Shelia Hawkins of the Society Restaurant, Melbourne, Mrs Maureen Gillian of Japanese Spare Parts, Brisbane, and Mr Graham Schorer of Golden Messenger Couriers, Melbourne. Mrs. Hawkins withdrew very early on, and I have had no contact with her since.

The treatment these individuals have received from Telecom and Commonwealth government agencies has been disgraceful, and I have no doubt they have all suffered as much through this treatment as they did through the faults on their telephone services.

One of the striking things about this group is theur persistence and enduring beleif that eventually there will be a fair and equitable outcome for them, and they are to admired for having kept as focussed as they have throughout their campaign.

Having said that, I am aware all have suffered both physically and their family relationships. In one case, the partner of the claimant has become seriously incapacitated; due, I beleive to the way Telecom has dealt with them. The others have all suffered various stress related conditions (such as a minor stroke).

During my time at Austel I pressed as hard as I could for an investigation into the complaints. The resistance to that course of action came from the then Chairman. He was eventually galvanised into action by ministerial pressure. The Austel report looks good to the casual observer, but it has now become clear that much of the information accepted by Austel was at best inaccurate, and at worst fabricated, and that Austel knew or ought to have known this at the time.”  (my emphasis)

After leaving Austel I continued to lend support to the COT Cases, and was instrumental in helping them negotiate the inappropriately named "Fast Track" Arbitration Agreement. That was over a year ago, and neither the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman nor the Arbitrator has been succsessful in extracting information from Telecom which would equip the claimants to press their claims effectively. Telecom has devoted staggering levels of time, money and resources to defeating the claims, and there is no pretence even that the arbitration process has attemted to produce a contest between equals.

Even it the remaining claimants receive satisfactory settlements (and I have no reason to think that will be the outcome) it is crucial that the process be investigated in the interest of accountabilty of publical companies and the public servants in other government agencies. 

Because I am not aware of the exact citrcumstances surrounding your meeting with Mr Smith, nor your identity, you can appreciate that I am being  fairly circimspect in what I am prepared to commit to writing. Suffice it to say, though, I am fast coming to share the view that a public inquiry of some discripion is the only way that the reasons behind the appalling treatent of these people will be brought to the surface.

I would be happy to talk to you in more detail if you think that would be useful, and can be reached at the number shown above at any time. 

Thank you for your interest in this matter, and for sparing the time to talk to Alan. (See File 501 - AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541 )

It is also important to note from File 210-C AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233 a three-page internal report prepared by AUSTEL on 26 February 1996, which was derived from the evidence AUSTEL collected from my business on 19 December 1995 that they acknowledge my claims of ongoing 008/1800 billing problems was a valid claim. File 210-D AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233 dated 2 August 1996 confirms the 008/1800 billing short duration lock-up billing problems were still apparent. In other words, the 008/1800 billing problem I raised with AUSTEL in June 1993 was still in the Telstra network for more than three years.


Chapter 3 Betrayal - Breach of Trust

AUSTEL (the then government communications authority) supplied the quarterly COT Cases Report (see Arbitrator File No/100) to communications minister, the Hon Michael Lee MP, on 13 April 1994. Points 5.31 and 5.32, in this AUSTEL report, highlight the continuing phone and fax problems encountered by the four original COT claimants’ businesses and AUSTEL directed Telstra to carry out the SVTs at claimants’ premises using AUSTEL specifications, to verify the phone services were now operating at proper working standard, but this did not eventuate. (See Telstra's Falsified SVT Report )

Even though the problems with the SVT equipment malfunctioned due to the ongoing issues at the Ericsson AXE telephone exchange and the grossly deficient switching equipment being used at the Cape Bridgewater unmanned exchange, which forced Telstra to abandon their tests, AUSTEL failed to mention this to  Hon Michael Lee MP. 

The government bureaucrats within AUSTEL were a law unto themselves during the COT arbitrations allowing Telstra (the defendants in the arbitration) to do the SVT testing unsupervised by the technical arbitration consultants, as  Telstra's Falsified SVT Report shows

As can be seen from Chapter 1 - The collusion continues when the arbitrators technical consultants Lane Telecommunications Pty Ltd (Australia) and DMR Group Inc (Canada) advised the arbitrator their report was not yet complete needing extra weeks to value my billing claim documents the arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes (who is still a practicing law in a leading Melbourne law firm disallowed these extra weeks to investigate these ongoing billing issues. 

Worse to come was that AUSTEL, as Chapter 14 - Was it Legal or Illegal? shows on 16 October 1995, Five months after my arbitration was deemed complete (and hence outside the arena of the arbitration process) AUSTEL allowed Telstra’s original arbitration defence liaison officer Steve Black to address some of the worst of my 1800 billing claim documents in secret (see also  Open letter File No/46-A to 46-l) without the arbitrator or me being present.

In simple terms, I was denied my legal right to challenge Telstra's submission on these billing issues that do not coincide with the statements made by Telstra's previous CEO Frank Blount in his coauthored manuscript › managing-in-australia › fran. This addressing of my arbitration billing issues was five months after the arbitrator brought down his findings without addressing these 088/1800 billing issues and six months after Dr Hughes disallowed his technical unit to investigate them.. 

Absent Justice - Hon David Hawker MP

Open Letter File No/41/Part-One and File No/41 Part-Two 

In the third week of September 1995, The Hon David Hawker MP (my Federal Member of Parliament), in the company of myself and four other COT Cases, provided The Hon Senator Richard Alston (the then Shadow Minister of Communications Technology and the Arts) the following letter dated 15 July 1995 (see File 501AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541). 

In June 1996, I provided a report at the requests of Senator Richard Alston to Parliament House Canberra (see Open Letter File No/41/Part-One and File No/41 Part-Two that confirmed the COT Cases arbitration processes were not being conducted according to how the Hon. Senator Ron Boswell and Richard Alston promised they would be if the COT Cases did not push for a Senate Enquiry into Telstra's ailing network.

Along with that report was evidence supporting what Amanda Davis had conveyed in her letter File 501- AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541 or Open Letter File No/41/Part-One and File No/41 Part-Two


Bret Walker SC, one of the country’s leading barristers, said “Without knowing about what government is doing, the idea of democracy is defeated.”

“The desire for secrecy has gone way beyond acceptable limits on the part of governments in this country. The supposed benefits of freedom of information legislation have nearly been destroyed by recalcitrant administrators and counterproductive exemptions,” said Mr Walker.

“The public has a right to know information pertaining to public administration,” said Geoffrey Watson SC, a director of the Centre for Public Integrity.

“FOI is an important aspect of our democracy. Without transparency of information, a culture of secrecy and corruption can flourish,” said Mr Watson

“The system is broken. Delays and refusals to give information are on the rise, leaving the public in the dark about important government business. We need to increase staffing and resourcing of the Information Commissioner and implement sanctions against officers in contempt of the FOI Act,” said Mr Watson.

Absent Justice Ebook

Read Alan’s book

My name is Alan Smith. This is the story of my battle with a telecommunications giant and the Australian Government. This battle has twisted and turned since 1992 through elected governments, government departments, regulatory bodies, the judiciary, and the Australian telecommunications giant, Telstra, or Telecom, as it was known when this story started. The quest for justice continues to this day. Nine publishers from all around the globe have published Absent Justice, which is now available for free in several languages.

Read about 'Mr Bates vs the Post Office' who took on the British government-owned Post Office,, who found similar irregular activities by public servants who tried to hide the truth surrounding the valid claims registered by Mr Bates and his Post Office friends who dared tackle the British owned Post Office. 


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“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

“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

“…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

“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

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