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Brief Ericsson Introduction

See also exhibit link Telstra’s Acronyms & Jargon

Towards the end of 1993, the COT group was lobbying hard on two counts. First, we were pushing for settlements in the form of a commercial assessment that would properly address the financial losses our businesses had suffered. This would be a specifically non-legalistic process. The Labor government of the time had endorsed it as the most appropriate path towards justice in our case. In 1994, during my government-endorsed Telstra settlement/arbitration process, one of my arbitration consultants, Barry O’Sullivan (later became a Queensland Senator), wrote on an internal memo:

“…We also need to take into account the fact that Mr Smith has suffered stress and has been diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. This disorder has been documented by his resident Psychologist in Portland Kay Frankin, and also a psychiatrist he has visited in Geelong, Dr Chris Mackie”. (See Exhibit 4 AXE Evidence File 1 to 9)

While somewhat reluctant to disclose I suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome, it is of considerable significance because the COT saga has played an integral part in it. Many other COTs have suffered from similar stress-related issues. If we had lost our businesses, or a significant part of our businesses, as a result of fire, theft, floods or bad management decisions, most of us could accept what had happened, and even if we were not happy about the circumstances, we found ourselves in, we would eventually find ways to sort through issues and move on. Before the advent of emails and internet generated businesses, fully functioning phone and fax machines were essential to the successful operation of businesses dependent on them for clients.

For the first six years of my business operation, the only alternative available when the phone lines were not working was to drive 20 kilometres into Portland to make my phone calls. We did not even have a public phone in Cape Bridgewater until after 1995. On the occasions, I tested my business phone line by ringing my office from the Portland public phone, imagine my dismay and frustration when I consistently received a recorded telephone message announcing that the number you are ringing (my own business!) is not connected, when I knew it certainly was connected to Telstra’s network.

For the purpose of highlighting that anyone can fall victim to this stressful situation, I will briefly move forward eight years to when I sold my beloved holiday camp in December 2001, six years after my arbitration process had failed to rectify the ongoing telephone and faxing problems. Darren Lewis, the new proprietor of my business, also sought help from a psychologist in Portland to assist him in dealing with a business that had massive telephone communication problems up to at least November 2006.

A psychologist visited me on 23 February 2007 to discuss Darren’s psychological state and the suicidal thoughts he was, then reporting. He also wanted to confirm that the dreadful telephone saga Darren was talking about was real and not his imagination.

Returning back to April and May 1993, where our lives were being torn apart by Telstra’s refusal to accept that we four might have valid claims. Telstra’s internal emails confirm Telstra’s management was trying to force us, four COT members, into court.

The author of one of these internal Telstra emails to various senior executives on 21 April 1993, for instance, referred to raising the issue of court with us:

“Don, thank you for your swift and eloquent reply. I disagree with raising the issues of the courts. That carries an implied threat not only to COT cases but to all customers that they’ll end up as lawyer fodder. Certainly that can be a message to give face to face with customers and to hold in reserve if the complainants remain vexatious” (See Arbitrator File No 57)

Clearly, Telstra management intended to decide when claimants were becoming vexatious and that this would be when they would threaten the claimants with legal action. This decision, from a corporation, continually held up to be a benevolent organisation and acting for the good of the Australian public; yet behind closed doors, Telstra management intended to turn legitimate claimants into lawyer fodder if they persisted with their claims. This April 1993 Telstra document had a particularly devastating effect on me.

If this is not enough skullduggery, consider Telstra’s executives were clearly aiming to muzzle the media regarding the validity of our valid claims. The sense of fear within the COT group was understandable, but it intensified once it became apparent that this government-owned corporation had the COT cases under surveillance. This Telstra internal email dated 16 June 1993 discusses a TV news programme:

“Good news re channel nine news. Haven’t checked all outlets but as it didn’t run on the main bulletin last night, we can be pretty certain that the story died the death. I wish I could figure which phase it was that convinced [A TV journalist] not to proceed. Might have been one of Jim Holmes (Telstra’s Corporate Secretary) pearls…

Neil  Mitchell had another bite this morning. Said to keep those faxes rolling into Schorer.” (See Arbitrator File No/93)

The Telstra executive who apparently delved into pearl diving was Telstra’s corporate secretary. What type of pearl was cast by this high-flying corporate secretary? Were they pearls of wisdom, financial pearls or another type of pearl that convinced a respected journalist to drop a story? The Neil Mitchell referred to in this email was and still is a talkback interviewer on Melbourne’s 3AW693 radio station.

It is important to note that COT spokesperson Graham Schorer had a very high regard for Neil Mitchel and 3AW693 during this very difficult period in our lives.

Why is this particular instance so important that I raise here? The answer is simple. If indeed metaphorical pearls can convince a respected journalist to drop a story, cannot similar pearls be cast before other professionals assigned to the forthcoming COT case arbitrations to entice them not to act independently? It is clear from documents on absentjustice.com that relevant adverse material against Telstra and others assisting Telstra was concealed to prevent it from being addressed during my arbitration.

Is that news reporter (journalist) who concealed from the Australian public what I found in that briefcase inadvertently left at my business proud owners of pearl necklaces? This then corporate secretary was also a member of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Board (TIO) during the TIO-administered COT arbitrations, which government records show (see Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman) was allowed to attend TIO monthly board meeting when COT related arbitration issues were discussed. The Telstra briefcase Ericsson issue was one of my arbitration claims but was never defended by Telstra or discussed in the arbitrator’s findings.

On 3 June 1993, because of my constant complaints to the regulator, including incorrect charging, Telstra’s network investigations department was finally involved, and, for the very first time, Telstra investigators were sent to Cape Bridgewater. At last, I thought, I would be able to speak directly to people who knew what they were talking about and find the underlying cause of the issue. However, the two Telstra senior technicians from Melbourne told me nothing I hadn’t heard before. With nothing resolved, they finally prepared to leave and head back to town.

One particular document labelled Problem 1 shocked me. It referred to Telstra being aware that the RVA fault of March 1992 had actually lasted for eight months, not the alleged three weeks that I’d been told on the day I accepted my compensation payment. I received a copy of a similar document (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings) further supporting this document in November 2007 from the now-Australian Communications Media Authority.

My own transport was, by this time, long gone; sold to pay some of my mounting debts, and I also needed to go into Portland. The technicians offered me a lift. After spending some time in Portland, I got a lift back to Cape Bridgewater with a neighbour. In my office, I found that one of the technicians had inadvertently left behind a briefcase. I opened the briefcase to find out who owned it, and the first thing I saw was a file titled SMITH, CAPE BRIDGEWATER. After five gruelling years fighting with Telstra and being told various lies along the way, here was possibly the truth, as seen from Telstra’s perspective. Some of the documents in this file were much too technical for me to interpret. Some that I could decipher, however, dated back to the compensation payment I received on 11 December 1992. The Smith, Cape Bridgewater file was provided to Senator Richard Alston in August 1993, during a meeting in his Melbourne office. This file confirmed Telstra was aware they had a major network problem in all of their AXE Ericsson telephone exchanges. Senator Richard Alston was also alarmed that it appeared as though Ericsson testing equipment might also have a compatibility problem when used in rural locations. Two years later, in September 1995, The Hon David Hawker MP  provided proof of these facts to Senator Alston in his Canberra parliament house office in the company of a number of witnesses. In June 1996, I provided similar non-addressed arbitration Ericsson claim material to Paul Fletcher, Senators Richard Alston’s Chief of Staff (see Open Letter File No/41/Part-One and File No/41 Part-Two), Mr Fletcher declined to investigate these documents.

Even though Paul Fletcher is now the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communication in the current government, my valid claims are still being suppressed as of 2021.

Chapter 1 - The first Remedy pursued in November 1993⟶

 

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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

“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.”

Hon David Hawker

“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

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

– Edmund Burke