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Chapter One - Prior to Arbitration

Corruption is contagious and does not respect sectoral boundaries. 

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 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. 

We COT Cases were later advised that another possible reason we were not getting our requested FOI documents from Senator Bon Collins's office is that his minders did not want to release any government information to the COT Cases while the Senator was under investigation (rb.gy/dsvidd). This, of course, further compounded the document issues surrounding our arbitrations. 

As a concerned citizen, I requested specific documents from Telstra concerning three different Ministers of Communications. However, Telstra informed the Commonwealth Ombudsman that they were reviewing these documents. I received no explanation until Phillipa Smith wrote a letter to Telstra on 25 March 1994, demanding an explanation for the vetting of my requested documents. Despite the sensitivity of these documents, I never received them. I am left to wonder why. I am curious if these sensitive documents pertain to the China issues I raised with the government on 18 September 1967. Alternatively, were they telecommunication-related documents from the offices of these three Ministers of Communications, who all dealt with my Telstra matters?

My concern is that these documents may have been concealed due to Senator Bob Collins's involvement with the misconduct of children in Parliament House Canberra when he dealt with my Telstra matters. I cannot help but wonder if the concealing of my requested sensitive FOI documents was related to Senator Bob Collins's office to ensure that the misconduct that took place in his office was not mistakenly provided to me, even though they might have had technical information on the document. It was my right as a citizen to access these documents. Telstra has not provided me with a clear explanation as to why I was denied access to these sensitive documents. 

Kangaroo Court - Absent Justice This raping of Australian citizens in Parliament House Canberra during the 1990s is still very much in the public eye in 2024 as the following  Kangaroo Court website https://shorturl.at/dtDH9, https://shorturl.at/svwI5 and https://shorturl.at/hqzHO shows

Going into arbitration in a government-endorsed arbitration where two separate Australian Federal Police investigations related to the same arbitration was an unworkable situation that destroyed the COT Cases lives and the lives of their families

 

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.

On 18 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 original FTAP, can be obtained by clicking on Evidence - C A V Part 1, 2 and 3 - Chapter 3 - Fast Track Settlement Proposal.

 

Part Two 

Who Paid Grant Campbell?

10th January 1994: This TIO document (AS 542-A) confirms that Grant Campbell was handling my related FTSP and (Ferrier Hodgson Corporate Advisory) the TIO-appointed Resource Unit correspondence to Telstra on behalf of the TIO.

I was never informed before his arbitration that Grant Campbell had been seconded from Telstra, nor that he had defected back to Telstra all within a twelve-month period. These following exhibits confirm that an unhealthy relationship between the TIO office and Telstra certainly existed during the period Alan was in arbitration.

It is interesting to note that the 1993/94 TIO Annual Report does not list Mr Campbell as having worked for the TIO office, even though Mr Campbell held a senior managerial position with the TIO office. Please consider the following points:

  1. TIO documents dated 9th February 1994 (AS 542-B) confirm that Grant Campbell was signing letters on behalf of Warwick Smith, particularly in relation to the fax billing and lock-up complaints included in my FTSP claims.
  2. Telstra FOI documents H00027 H36279, and H36280 (AS 542-C) confirm that, in January and February 1995, Grant Campbell and Ted Benjamin were addressing the same types of 008/1800 billing issues on behalf of Telstra’s Customer Response Unit. This is the same Unit that Ted Benjamin headed when he wrote to Dr Hughes on 16th December 1994 to confirm that Telstra had advised AUSTEL, in writing, that they would address my 008/1800 billing issues as part of their defence of his claim, as per the arbitration agreement. I have always been concerned about Grant Campbell’s handling of my 008/1800 arbitration materials that went through the TIO’s office in 1994.

During the early stages of the COT arbitration process the COT claimants were told that Pia Di Mattina had been seconded from Minter Ellison by the TIO to assist him in the COT Arbitration Process. Miss Di Mattina’s name, understandably, does not appear in the TIO 1993/94 employee list that is included in the 1993/94 Annual Report (the report can be supplied on request), although all the other TIO employees are listed there, but it is also interesting to note that Grant Campbell’s name is not included on the employee list either, even though he dealt with a number of the billing issues during Alan Smith’s arbitration, as well as accepting part of Alan Smith’s original FTSP claim lodged with the TIO office on 27th January 1994.

This Telstra internal email FOI folio 000973 (AS 542-E) notes:

"The ex-employee’s name is Grant Campbell. Grant then worked as the Deputy Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and then on a senior management review team".

On 9 February 1994, Mr Campbell wrote to Telstra’s Fiona Hills, under the heading Loss of Fax Capacity, noting:

"I spoke with Alan Smith on the 9 instant following our discussion on the 8 instant. He has agreed that this is a new matter and whilst it may be indicating some ongoing problems, it is not a matter that relates directly to the preparation of his material to be presented to the Assessor".

Mr Campbell’s statement to Fiona Hills that “He [Alan Smith] has agreed that this is a new matterdoes not match the information in (AS 767-A, 768, 769, 770, 771, and AS 772-A) which confirm that local (Portland) Telstra technicians were aware of the major problems associated with the faxing capacity issue, at least as far back as October 1993. Mr Campbell’s correspondence was, therefore, clearly misleading fellow Telstra employees and, possibly, Warwick Smith also, about the ongoing problems. This adds even further weight to my claims that there needs to be a transparent investigation into the TIO-administered COT arbitrations.

It is amazing enough to find that Grant Campbell was seconded from the employment of the defendants during the COT arbitrations, but it is even more amazing to learn that, while he was wearing his TIO hat, he was also working on 1800 problem claims lodged by another COT claimant but, in this instance, he was wearing his Telstra hat!  These two different ‘hats’ must lead directly to an understanding that no-one may ever know how many claim documents the COT cases sent to the TIO’s office while Grant Campbell was wearing his TIO hat but being paid by Telstra.

We may never uncover how many arbitration procedural documents never made it to the viewing room that the TIO-appointed, secretly-absolved-from-risk, arbitration Resource Unit appeared to have access to.

We have raised the issue of this Grant Campbell fax capacity issue here because Dr Hughes’ technical Resource Unit never provided me with the results of their investigations into the lost faxes, even though it cost me well over to $300,000.00 to participate in the arbitration process; and even though clause 11 in the official Arbitration Agreement notes: '

The Arbitrator's reasons will be set out in full in writing and referred to in the Arbitrators award, the lost fax issues were not referred to: 'in full in writing' in the Arbitrators award.

Like Grant Campbell, Warwick Smith and his appointed Arbitration Technical Resource Unit they appear to have misunderstood the significance of the 008/1800 problem, because they failed to alert Dr Hughes that the 008/1800 service I used was actually routed through his main service line, 055 267 267, the line that one of the two faulty EXICOM phones was connected to – the phone that was prone to lock-up after each terminated call. In other words, when the Resource Unit advised John Pinnock (TIO) on 15 November 1995, and Dr Hughes on 2 August 1996 (AS 220), that Alan’s 008/1800 billing claims were not addressed, they were also admitting to not investigating or addressing my main service line 055 267 267.

Was there a more sinister motive behind the decision to ignore my billing claims, the same 008/1800 billing faults that Telstra’s Grant Campbell was investigating while working with the TIO (on secondment from Telstra) and then working on again, later, after he went back to Telstra to work alongside TIO Council Member Ted Benjamin?

Did Ted Benjamin's relationship with Telstra and the TIO Council have anything to do with his later relationship with Grant Campbell? There appears to be NO doubt that this particular issue – of Grant Campbell addressing 008/1800 problems on behalf of the TIO and then on behalf of Telstra, all during Alan’s arbitration – created a massive conflict of interest.

Could it be that, when I told Mr Campbell that he needed all the documents related to his earlier settlement, from before December 1992, so he could show how undemocratic this 1992 settlement process was, Mr Campbell then passed that information straight on to Telstra, thereby effectively alerting Telstra to which documents they could ‘lose’ because it was relevant to my case?  It is also interesting to connect this issue to a letter written on 11 November 1994 to Telstra from the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, asking why the earlier settlement material that I had requested under FOI had still not been supplied to him.

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Absent Justice - My Story - Senator Ron Boswell

Threats made and carried out.

Page 180 ERC&A, from the official Australian Senate Hansard, dated November 29 1994, reports Senator Ron Boswell asking Telstra's legal directorate why were my FOI documents being withheld from me during my arbitration:

“Why did Telecom advise the Commonwealth Ombudsman that Telecom withheld FOI documents from Alan Smith because Alan Smith provided Telecom FOI documents to the Australian Federal Police during their investigation?”

After receiving a hollow response from Telstra, which the senator, the AFP and I all knew was utterly false, the senator states:

“…Why would Telecom withhold vital documents from the AFP? Also, why would Telecom penalise COT members for providing documents to the AFP which substantiate that Telecom had conducted unauthorised interceptions of COT members’ communications and subsequently dealt in the intercepted information by providing that information to Telecom’s external legal advisers and others?” (Senate Evidence File No 31)

As I have reiterated throughout this website, the threats against me during the arbitration proceedings came to fruition, and the withholding of pertinent documents is deeply concerning. Regrettably, neither the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman nor the government has investigated the detrimental impact of this malpractice on my overall submission to the arbitrator. Despite assisting the Australian Federal Police (AFP) in their investigation into the illicit interception of phone conversations and arbitration-related faxes, they never came to my aid.

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

“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

“…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

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