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Chapter One

2nd & 6th September 1988:  Telstra continues to record Alan’s complaints as the phone problems worsen.  Often the line remained dead (locked up) for some time after a call was terminated.  This problem often was not noticed until they lifted the receiver to dial out of the business. AS – CAV 1 - See AS – CAV 1

25th October 1988:  This Telstra handwritten fault document, FOI folio K25232, states:-

“52 Fail (17.3%)..”

“Congestion Tone always dropped back to internal comm – get local congestion tone…”

“Busy tone 30-50% ” GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS-CAV 28-A

Alan Smith’s Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp was routed through an unmanned RCM multiplexer system, at Bridgewater, to the Portland AXE exchange.  Graham Schorer’s business, Golden Messenger is also serviced by an AXE exchange.  Although not dated, the following Telstra documents are believed to have been produced around this period.

Exhibit GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS CAV 28-B titled National Network Operations – Melbourne discusses the AXE Ericsson exchanges and insufficient CL as a cause of congestion – a problem North Melbourne exchange suffered.

(4) TNE:-

“Congestion being experienced in AXE exchanges due to shortage of CL, PD and RE ‘individuals’ has been brought to the attention of TNE so that designers can be made aware of the problems.”

Exhibit GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS CAV 28-C, titled CL Record insufficiencies, states:-

“If there are insufficient CL records then the AXE will send congestion to the A party.”

Exhibit GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS CAV 28-D is a 2nd July 1992 Telstra Internal Minute, from Mark Ross, Customer Services Manager, to Network Operations.

Exhibit GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS 28-E is an internal memo dated 29th November 1993 from National Network Investigations to Harvey Parker, Group Manager Director of Commercial and Consumer.

This statement made in the internal minute:-

“Please find enclosed documentation in regard to a Grade of Service Complaint from Mr Alan Smith of Cape Bridgewater.”

“Our local technicians believe that Mr Smith is correct in raising complaints about incoming callers to his number receiving a Recorded Voice Announcement saying that the number is disconnected.”

“They believe it is a problem that is occurring in increasing numbers as more and more customers are connected to AXE,”

and the statement made in the Telstra internal memo:-

“As the performance quality of the network is directly translated to customer satisfaction and cost and quality of Fault Management, caution is also expressed about the decision on which switch should be used for FMO. I have long held the view the AXE switch provides an inadequate and crude Fault Analysis & Diagnostic tools [sic]. Attempts to have improvements incorporated have been acknowledged, but nothing has changed,”

confirm there were problems associated with the Ericsson AXE system.

It is also interesting to note, that in the official AUSTEL COT Cases Report dated April 1994, at point 7.40 – AUSTEL states:-

“…AUSTEL recently became aware that Telecom had prepared an internal document on the subject of this AXE fault and on 21 March 1994 sought a copy from Telecom.”

A copy of this AXE report was not provided, under FOI, to either Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) or Alan Smith.

The AXE Ericsson exchange problems (see also below for the dates of 16th July 1997, 24th July 1997, 20th August 1997 and 16th September 1997), were one reason the COT cases suspect the TIO-appointed Arbitration Technical Consultants, Lane Telecommunications, had a conflict of interest before they were removed from the arbitration process.

6th & 10th January 1989:  Telstra continues to record our complaints.  As the weeks go by and Alan’s business, which should have been flourishing by now, begins to vanish before their eyes.  Alan and Faye begin to wonder if they should have moved to Cape Bridgewater at all.  Family arguments ensue as Alan pushed to sell their family home in Melbourne (with its in-ground swimming pool and spacious back yard) and asked his wife, Faye, to give up her thriving dressmaking business.  Alan does not lay the entire blame for his 20-year marriage breaking up on Telstra’s doorstep, but the constant stress created by prospective customers not being able to reach them on the phone in Cape Bridgewater was certainly a major factor.  When Alan now looks at Telstra FOI documents, confirming Telstra knew, all along, that their phone problems were caused by the poor network into Cape Bridgewater (while they continually denied the problem), he finds it really difficult to accept.  If Telstra had addressed the rural phone problems in Cape Bridgewater when he first raised them, he might well still have a marriage and contact with both his children.

Faye and Alan split up

20th October 1989:  Finally, Faye leaves and after Alan gets through the first awful weeks with the support of friends, he begins to assess his new, single, situation and it becomes obvious that running the business alone was going to take a lot of time and energy.  However, local Telstra technicians assure him, there are no real problems with the Cape Bridgewater exchange and that, once the new RCM exchange was installed, any lingering minor congestion problems will be eliminated.  After Alan and Faye split up (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See  AS – CAV 2), the telephone problems continued (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See  AS – CAV 3 to 5).  Telstra knew there was a major fault, as these exhibits show, but chose to conceal these facts.

A brief overview of Alan arriving at Cape Bridgewater with his wife and family are recorded in his condensed manuscript

Trade Practices Act 1974

Part VA – Liability of manufacturers and importers for defective goods

“Commonwealth mandatory standard”, in relation to goods, means a mandatory standard in respect of the goods imposed by a law of the Commonwealth. …

“mandatory standard”, in relation to goods, means a standard:

A number of Telstra senior employees knew before they sold the Flexitel System to Graham Schorer, that the system had limitations and software constraints.  Please consider the following points shown immediately below, regarding Alan Smith’s EXICOM TF200 touchphone problems.  These problems may seem unrelated to Graham Schorer’s Flexitel issues, but there are similarities:  Telstra not only provided a known-faulty product to Golden Messenger, they also provided a known-faulty product to Alan Smith.

  1. The information shown in this report confirms some Telstra employees agreed that (1) there were congestion problems at the exchanges that serviced Graham’s business, Golden Messenger, and (2) the Flexitel System installed at Graham’s premises by Telstra did not have the capacity to handle the number of calls coming into the business.
  2. It is also confirmed, in Alan Smith’s CAV Chronology and supporting material, that numerous internal Telstra file notes and correspondence show that, like Graham, Alan’s business suffered as a result of congestion at his local exchange, which serviced the unmanned RCM system at Cape Bridgewater. Also, like the Flexitel software problems in Graham’s case, it was widely known throughout Telstra that there were major lock-up problems with their EXICOM TF200 phones.  Yet, Telstra’s laboratory technicians denied this known problem was part of Alan’s issues, even going as far as conjuring up a report stating that all the problems with Alan’s EXICOM TF200 were caused by ‘wet and sticky’ beer spilt inside the phone.
  3. In Alan Smith’s case, after Telstra replaced his faulty EXICOM TF200 with another EXICOM, Alan’s business continued, as Graham Schorer’s had, to suffer from problems with the phone system. In Alan’s case, the arbitrator and the arbitration technical consultants appointed by the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman failed to address the lock-up problems:  apparently, because they believed Telstra’s laboratory TF200 ‘wet and sticky beer’ report (see Tampering With Evidence)

    The following points further support the similarities between Graham Schorer and Alan Smith’s cases:
     
  4. On 20th November 1986 as mentioned above, Ray Shenton of Philips (Australia) faxed Telstra, information confirming the Flexitel System had a number of problems eight months before Telstra sold the Flexitel to Graham Schorer.
  5. Telstra internal memos and minutes, dated between 6th and 9th January 1987 (see above), also confirm Telstra’s awareness that the Flexitel System had a number of limitations.
  6. In the Ted Benjamin Target file Appendix 32 and supporting documents provided to the CAV LGE Targets, there is enough material showing that the lock-up problems, experienced by Alan Smith with the Telstra-supplied EXICOM TF200, were not caused by a spillage of beer into the phone.
  7. Exhibit GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS 49-B to 88, FOI folio R37911. The last paragraph states: “This T200 is an EXICOM and the other T200 [that was connected to Alan Smith’s] 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 phone and the old phone was marked and tagged…”

The problem Alan Smith experienced with the old EXICOM TF200, which was tagged and taken away, was it locked up intermittently after a terminated call.  One of the side effects was, while the EXICOM was in a locked-up state, people could hear Alan in his office sometime minutes after he had placed the receiver back in the cradle (terminated the call).

Exhibit GS CAV 50, (Telstra FOI folio D01026/27) confirms, like the Flexitel system, Telstra knew there were lock-up problems affecting the EXICOM T200 machines manufactured after week 7 1993, in moisture-prone areas. This document confirms one of the known lock-up side effects was that, while the line was in this lock-up mode, the calling or called party could hear room noise after the call had terminated.  Other evidence on file, concerning Telstra’s faulty equipment still in use, suggests that a large portion of these faulty EXICOM phones were re-deployed back into the system.

It would be unreasonable for Telstra Senior Executives to assume that local Telstra staff would have meteorological experience, or be aware that coastal regions like Cape Bridgewater, where Alan Smith had his business, have early morning to early afternoon moisture.  While it is evident, from documentation, Alan had problems with the EXICOM TF200, collected 27th April, 1994 the new EXICOM left behind was still in service on his 55 267230 line until at least 1999, when it was removed to the camp kiosk.  Although Alan provided the arbitrator with electronic data showing this locking up fault continued after the installation of the new EXICOM, the arbitrator did not allow the arbitration technical consults to test this service line. Had the arbitration process done this they would have perhaps found that the EXICOM phones, themselves, were part of the cause of this locking up fault.

SUMMARY – FLEXITEL & EXICOM

3rd July 1992:  Peter Taylor, Telstra’s Warrnambool Manager, sends Alan a letter, stating:-

“As you requested the following is a copy of your fault history on service 267267. Unfortunately Ican only provide details for the past 12 months due to change in your data base.” (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See  AS – CAV 17)

Why were these documents withheld from Alan, when he asked him for all fault records since 1989?  This misleading and deceptive advice can be found in AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 5, under the heading Telecom Secret (FOI 44008).  Telstra used this during the settlement.  Other documents confirm there were records going back to 1989.

Alan was seriously misled by Telstra during this settlement process and when he accepted Telstra’s offered payment.

From soon after settlement, on 11th December 1992 and through to early 1993, Alan continued to experience intermittent problems with incoming STD calls cutting out: 80 per cent of his incoming calls were STD calls.  On 3rd February 1993 Alan complained to Telstra that the phone was frequently giving only one ring and, when he picked it up, the line was dead.

12th July 1993: Telstra FOI documents M34204 – M34205 (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 18) confirm Alan was complaining of cut-offs in March 1993.  This Telstra document states there were 45,993 degraded minutes yet, in the Arbitration Technical Report, DMR and Lane (30th April 1995) refer to only 405 degraded minutes.  The Technical Report also claims there were only 43,500 errored seconds (ES) when the Telstra document shows 65,535.  It appears DMR and Lane played down the actual number of faults.

Three pages from the 13 April 1994 AUSTEL COT Report (pages 163 to 165) confirm, from the new RCM installation at Cape Bridgewater in August 1991 until at least July 1993, numerous problems affected the RCM at Cape Bridgewater. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 19)

At this point, it is important to raise the issue of a witness statement, sworn by Gordon Stokes of Telstra, and used in the FTAP (12th December, 1994).  In part 2 of this statement, Mr Stokes states:-

“I transferred to Network Operations Portland in 1989 and between 1990 and 1994 I was responsible for maintaining switching equipment at the Portland exchange.”

Mr Stokes further states:-

“After the Portland to Cape Bridgewater RCM systems were installed, I became aware that the performance of the systems could be measured using the facility known as CRC.  I checked the CRC error counters regularly between the date the RCM systems were installed and February 1994, when I left Telecom.  Checking the CRC counters in this way was normal maintenance practice.  I can recall checking the CRC counters prior to March 1993.  When I checked the CRC counters pre-March 1993, I did not observe any errors that could have impacted upon the telephone service provided to Cape Bridgewater customers.  A typical reading for each RCM system was 5 to 10 errored seconds, no degraded minutes and severely errored seconds.” (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 20)

If Mr Stokes did check the RCM regularly, as he states, why didn’t he notice that the fault alarm system had not been installed after the RCM replaced the RAX exchange in August 1991, 20 months before?  Furthermore, Mr Stokes’ statement does not correlate with a report, made after a visit to the Portland exchange by the Melbourne pair-gain support group, which states:-

“At this stage we had no idea over what period of time these errors had accumulated.”

If Mr Stokes’ Witness Statement is correct, he “checked the CRC counters pre-March 1993” and he “did not observe any errors”, then 65,535 errored seconds and 45,993 degraded minutes must have accumulated in the three days between 28th February and 2nd March…

Throughout 1993, I continued to receive numerous letters, from clients and business associates’ documenting frustrating experiences of attempting to contact me by phone (see also document 15).  The stress became increasingly difficult to bear.  Although I often tried to convince myself that the problems were diminishing, in reality, nothing was improving at all

26th August, 1992: Casualties of Telecom/Telstra (COT)

The first formal meeting of the Casualties of Telstra takes place, at the Ibis Melbourne Hotel, comprising Graham Schorer (official spokesperson), Alan Smith, Ann Garms, Bruce Dowding (representing Sheila Hawkins) and Amanda Davis (AUSTEL’s General Manager for Consumer Affairs).  Three representatives of Telstra attend to discuss the ongoing phone problems being experienced by COT members.  During this meeting, the COT cases advise Telstra they now know, contrary to what they were individually advised by Telstra in the past, that they are NOT the only businesses in their areas complaining about faults with their telephones.  Telstra fault documents confirm that during October and November 1992, alone, 14 Cape Bridgewater residents had complained to Telstra about problems with their phones. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 8)

One of the Telstra’s representatives at this 26th August, 1992 meeting, Ted Benjamin, is later appointed as Telstra’s Arbitration Liaison Officer for Graham and Alan’s respective arbitrations.  The Alan Smith CAV Chronology LGE file and supporting documentation show that the TIO should never have allowed Mr Benjamin the position of Arbitration Liaison Officer while he was still a member of the TIO council, because the TIO’s office was the administrator of the COT arbitrations.

Telstra’s Minutes of this 26th August 1992 meeting states:-

“Graham Schorer said that, from COT’s perspective the purpose of the meeting was to put two questions to Telecom, which COT ‘required’ to be answered by 2.12pm the same day.  The questions are shown at attachment 1, but in essence asked Telecom to guarantee that the service of the five foundation members would be rendered fault-free within 28 days and that Telecom would resolve any questions of compensation to said members within the same period.” (GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS-CAV 56, p2)

1st September, 1992:  Ms Pittard, Telstra’s General Manager, writes to Alan, stating:-

“We believe our recent tests indicate that your service is now performing to normal network standards.  I am initiating a further detailed study of all the elements of your service and the tests which have been conducted.” (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 12)

18th September, 1992:  Mr Beard, Telstra’s Service Manager, writes to Alan, stating:-

“We believe that the quality of your telephone service can be guaranteed and although it would be impossible to suggest that there would never be a service problem we could see no reason why this should be a factor in your business endeavours.” (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 13)

Telstra FOI document R01444 confirms Telstra documented people experiencing the RVA recorded message, saying Alan’s service was not connected, from at least March 1992.  This document also confirms that a Heywood resident, Mrs Saville, also complained of the same RVA fault when trying to ring Alan on 2nd September, 1992 and that the fault was not fixed until 7th October, 1992. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 11)

13th October, 1992:  Exhibit AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 7 shows that, around 13 October, 1992 one of Telstra’s Portland technicians, Gordon Stokes, connected an ELMI monitoring machine at the RCM exchange at Cape Bridgewater and linked it to a ‘sister’ machine so they could ‘talk’ to each other and carry out tests to see which calls terminated successfully at the camp.  This equipment was connected to the camp’s kiosk phone, which could be answered either in the kiosk via the kitchen, or in the main office.  Over this period, Alan continued to complain that calls were being registered as reaching his business, when they hadn’t.  On some occasions, calls shown on the ELMI tapes as having been answered, weren’t and, on other occasions, calls which had actually managed to get through and were successfully answered appeared on the ELMI tapes as ringing but not being answered.

Alan has included two examples of calls on 13th October 1992, which registered on the ELMI tapes as successful: one at 1.40 pm and the other at 3.04 pm.  In fact, both these calls dropped out when answered, so they certainly did not connect successfully.  According to Gordon Stokes, whose Witness Statement is discussed above, there was no ELMI equipment connected at Alan business at that time – but they must have been, or Alan wouldn’t have the tapes.

As these kinds of faults continued and were denied by local staff, things got worse instead of better.  At the time, my then-partner Karen often had to bear the brunt of anger from those people who did manage to get through, because she answered the phones every second or third day while I attended COT meetings in Melbourne.  It did not really come as a surprise to learn that Karen had decided to move into a rented house in Portland.

AUSTEL COT Cases Report

On 13th April, 1994 (see below), AUSTEL provided the then-Minister for Communications, the Hon Michael Lee, with the AUSTEL COT Cases Report, which discusses the telecommunication problems experienced by Graham, Alan and other COT members in detail.  Most of the information in the report was supposed to provide an unbiased view of the issues AUSTEL had investigated by accessing, from Telstra, each COT member’s telecommunication faults registered with the carrier.

The information shown in the Alan Smith CAV Chronology LGE file and supporting CAV documentation confirms that Telstra (throughout the COT arbitrations) continued to withhold documents from the claimants.  AUSTEL was also unable to access all the information they requested from Telstra to enable them to prepare a fully detailed report.

Point 5.46 on page 95 of the AUSTEL report states:-

“Where, as part of its direction, AUSTEL sought to obtain detailed information on each of the exchanges involved in terms of performance standards, actual performance, maintenance requirements and achievements, Telecom initially responded with advice in terms of a few generalisations. Very specific requests were necessary to obtain data which a co-operative approach may well have been expected to deliver. Indeed, throughout this inquiry it has been apparent that Telecom has chosen to interpret AUSTEL’s request for information in the narrowest possible terms. The net effect of this was to minimise the amount of relevant data it put before AUSTEL and lengthen the process necessary to extract it.”

Point 2.29 on page 34 states:-

“Since the five original COT Cases came to AUSTEL’s attention, fourteen complainants have approached AUSTEL alleging that –they have experienced service difficulties and faults similar to those experienced by the original COT Cases
they have received similar treatment in Telecom’s handling of their complaints.”

Point 3.45 on page 59 states:-

“Accordingly, at the same time as AUSTEL’s was pursuing its investigation it also used its best endeavours to facilitate a Fast Track Settlement Proposal for four of the COT Cases with the object of using the outcome of the Fast Track Settlement Proposal procedure as a model for resolving other individual disputes. Outcomes in that regard are detailed elsewhere in this report.”

Point 5.7 on page 84 states:-

“Argument on that general theme continued. By letter dated 23 September 1992, Telecom’s Group Managing Director, Commercial and Consumer, informed Mr Schorer as spokesperson for the original Cot Cases –

  • ‘The key problem is that discussions on possible settlement cannot proceed until the reported faults are positively identified and the performance of your members’ services is agreed to be normal. As I explained at our meeting, we cannot move to settlement discussions or arbitration while we are unable to identify faults which are affecting these services.’ ”

Point 5.25 on page 89 states:–

“Mr Smith was the first of the original COT Cases to reach an initial ‘settlement’ with Telecom. It is understood that he –

  • identified the type of faults which his business had experienced
  • indicated the incidence of the faults by way of –
    • statements by individuals who had sought unsuccessfully to contact him
    • demonstrating a reduced effectiveness of advertising he had undertaken.”

“Telecom has acknowledged at least some of the faults impacting on Mr Smith’s business as well as having access to relevant fault records and monitoring data.  It was also aware of the extent of the problems and difficulties at its local exchange servicing his business.”

AUSTEL found merit in what Graham and Alan said, regarding their continuing phone problems, and this is why AUSTEL supported the suggestion that Graham and Alan have their matters assessed commercially rather than legalistically.  The following information shows, however, that Telstra (assisted by the newly appointed TIO) hijacked the commercial settlement process in favour of Telstra’s preferred Rules of Arbitration.

Point 5.29 on page 90 states:-

“The fifth of the original COT Cases, Mr Schorer, had particular concerns about Telecom’s limited liability and the impact that the limitations were likely to have on any claim he might make for compensation arising from an inadequate telephone service. Instead of seeking compensation in those terms, he pursued a claim in the courts under the Trade Practices Act 1974. In simple terms, Mr Schorer claimed Telecom –

  • sold him a particular type of customer equipment which was unable to meet his needs (which were known to Telecom)
  • made claims for the equipment which the equipment was not able to deliver

While Telecom defended the action, it did make a payment into court with a denial of liability. On the advice of his solicitor, Mr Schorer concluded that he could not afford to fund continuation of the case and he decided to accept the payment into court

BROKEN PROMISE

AUSTEL COT Cases Report – Continuing Faults

Point 5.30 on page 91 states:-

“Understandably the original Cot Cases, having reached an initial ‘settlement’ involving –

compensation for past losses

restoration of an adequate telephone service expected that they might be able to resume their business activities afresh.”

Point 5.32 on page 91 states:-

“Unfortunately that did not prove to be the case. Soon after his initial ‘settlement’ Mr Smith reported continuing problems to AUSTEL. Even prior to her settlement, Mrs Garms reported continuing faults to AUSTEL. The decision by Mrs Garms and Mrs Gillan not to report faults to Telecom in order to hasten a financial settlement is noted above. Mr Schorer continued to report faults to AUSTEL throughout the period.”

Point 5.32 on page 91 states:-

“The fact that faults continued to impact upon the businesses in the period following the settlement shows a weakness in the procedures employed. That is, a standard of service should have been established and signed off by each party. It is a necessary procedure of which all parties are now fully conscious and is dealt with elsewhere in this report. Its omission as far as the initial ‘settlement’ of the original COT Cases were concerned meant that there was continued dissatisfaction with the service provided without any steps being taken to rectify it. This inevitably led to dissatisfaction with the initial ‘settlement’ and to further demands for compensation. To avoid this sort of problem in the future, AUSTEL is, in consultation with Telecom, developing

  • a standard of service against which Telecom’s performance may be effectively measured
  • a relevant service quality verification test”

The original (commercial) negotiation process leading up to the AUSTEL-facilitated Fast Track Arbitration Procedure (FTAP), see point 5.32, states no future assessment process can be signed off until Telstra demonstrated that their verification testing had located and fixed the phone problems that affected the COT cases’ businesses.  One of the main reasons why Graham Schorer and Alan Smith signed the FTAP was because Telstra agreed to carry out the Service Verification Tests (SVT), as specified by AUSTEL, and to prove, to AUSTEL’s satisfaction, that the services provided to them were now up to network standard.  Leading up to the signing of the Arbitration Agreement on 21st April, 1994 and before the final COT report was provided to the Minister for Communications on 13th April, 1994, Alan and Graham attended a two-day, lock-up, confidential viewing of the incomplete draft of the report at AUSTEL’s headquarters in Queens Road, Melbourne.  At this meeting, Robin Davey, AUSTEL’s chairman, reminded Graham and Alan of commitments made in a letter dated 23rd September, 1992 from Telecom’s Commercial Consumer Group Managing Director to Graham, which states:-

“As I explained at our meeting, we cannot move to settlement discussions or arbitration while we are unable to identify faults which are affecting these services.”

At the time of this AUSTEL lock-up meeting, Graham and Alan were refusing to move from the commercial agreement to arbitration.  It was at this point of time, that Mr Davey stated that the original agreement to properly identify the phone and fax faults still stood, because an assessor (or arbitrator) would not be able to hand down findings if the problems and faults that sent the claimants into the process in the first place had not been rigorously tested.  At this lock-up meeting, Mr Davey also alerted Graham and Alan to sections of the AUSTEL report where AUSTEL clarified that Service Verification Testing would be conducted on Difficult Network Fault (DNF) customers, which is how the COT claimants had been classified.

It never occurred to Alan Smith, that Telstra would stoop so low as to conjure up a false report of the SVT they carried out at his business (as part of their arbitration defence) but, as Alan’s CAV Chronology LGE file shows, this is exactly what happened – even after AUSTEL wrote twice to Telstra, on 11th October and 16th November 1994, advising Telstra the tests carried out at Alan’s business premises were deficient.

In Graham’s case, he always believed that Telstra would NOT honour their commitment given to AUSTEL, regarding conducting their SVT according to AUSTEL’s specifications, and therefore he refused the SVT process until further guidelines were put into place.  No such guidelines were ever implemented during Graham’s arbitration.

In the AUSTEL COT Case Report, at point 5.48 and regarding Telstra’s testing, AUSTEL states:-

“Telecom’s approach to the required testing regime was also less than positive. AUSTEL had required the testing to occur in business hours. Telecom maintained that it interpreted this requirement according to the nature of the business and, had it done so in good faith, it would have been acceptable. That was not, however, the outcome. In one case (Mr Schorer of Golden Messenger) only 15 percent of the test calls related to the complainant’s business hours, an approach scarcely consistent with Telecom’s advice that it wanted to establish the ‘fundamental integrity’ of the approach and that it wanted the results to be ‘beyond reproach’.”

26th August, 1992:  (as referred to above)  The first formal meeting of the Casualties of Telstra is held at the Ibis Hotel in Melbourne.  Graham Schorer was elected as official spokesperson prior to the meeting.  During this meeting, the COT cases advised Telstra that they now knew that, contrary to what Telstra advised each member individually in the past, they were NOT the only businesses in their areas complaining about faults with their telephones.

Telstra’s minutes taken during the meeting at the Ibis Motel states:-

“Graham Schorer said that, from C.O.T.’s perspective the purpose of the meeting was to put two questions to Telecom, which C.O.T. ‘required’ to be answered by 2.15pm the same day. The questions are shown at attachment 1, but in essence asked Telecom to guarantee that the service of the five foundation members would be rendered fault-free within 28 days and that Telecom would resolve any questions of compensation to said members within the same period,” (AS-CAV Exhibit 48-A to 91 - See P 2 at AS – CAV 56)

Another document also confirms that a Heywood resident, Mrs Savill, also complained of the same RVA fault when trying to ring Alan on 2nd September, 1992.  Document R01444 confirms the fault was not fixed until 7th October, 1992. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 14)

Telstra fault documents confirm that, during October and November 1992 alone, 14 Cape Bridgewater residents complained to Telstra about problems with their phones.

1st September, 1992:  (also noted above) Ms Pittard, Telstra’s General Manager, sends Alan a letter:-

“Whilst our recent tests indicate that your service is now performing to normal network standards, I am initiating a further detailed study of all the elements of your service and the tests which have been conducted.” (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 12)

Ms Pittard was aware there were ongoing faults before the 1992 settlement meeting.

18th September, 1992:  (also noted above) Mr Beard, Telstra’s Service Manager writes to Alan:-

“We believe that the quality of your telephone service can be guaranteed and although it would be impossible to suggest that there would never be a service problem we could see no reason why this should be a factor in your business endeavours.” (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 13)

It is now clear he knew at the time that the information he supplied Alan in this letter was false.

Please combine the above segment with the FOI information supplied below.

It has been shown by Graham Schorer during his Senate FOI investigation that six pages list 48 separate documents, from 1992, that Mr Schorer requested.  All are marked as either ADV or LPP.

We now know that hundreds (if not thousands) of TADV and LPP documents were wrongly withheld from Graham during his arbitration.  In particular, the 48 LPP documents raise a number of questions including:-

  1. Telstra states, in their B003 Briefing Report of 26th November, 1996, in reference to 21st and 22nd October 1992:“Telstra has no information as to whether this number was in fact engaged.”Telstra wrongly withheld non-legal information under  TADV and LPP rules, suggesting that Telstra could have withheld fault information related to these ‘engaged’ calls too. Could Graham Schorer have used this information, if it had been properly made available to him, to challenge Telstra’s defence regarding these particular ‘engaged’ calls?  How many other faults, and fault reports, were unlawfully withheld under TADV and LPPP?
  2. Page 1 of this FOI schedule also refers, at 8.10.92, to:-“Schorer, Golden Messenger Correspondence file for AGS R26401 – R26845, Document number R26450 – R26452, Facsimile transmission to Telecom, Technologies from AGS. Exemption LPP.”Why would Telstra withhold from Graham, during his arbitration, a fax from the Australian Government Solicitor to Telstra Technologies (who are NOT legal specialists), unless it was a document that could have helped Graham to prove his claims?

In the Alan Smith CAV Chronology LGE file, Alan provides evidence confirming technical information was also withheld from him, during his arbitration, under LPP.

Telstra FOI folio C05313, as shown in Chapter 2, for 16th March 1993, shows that Freehill Hollingdale & Page (Telstra’s solicitors) and Duesburys (accountants) used Equity Adjusters – a private investigator agency – at the time Graham Schorer was contemplating litigation against Telstra.  The information discussed in the Telstra LPP FOI schedule, regarding Equity Adjusters (see 30.10.92), like so many other non-legal FOI documents, was also withheld from Graham under LPP.

23rd November, 1992:  Don Lucas, of Telecom Commercial Victoria/Tasman region, writes to Alan advising that the RVA MELU fault only lasted for three weeks and was fixed by 19th March, 1992. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 15).

Another Telstra FOI document, K02643, which Alan received during his arbitration under FOI, confirms that Telstra considered this particular RVA MELU fault to be apparent from the cutover from the old exchange to the new RCM at Cape Bridgewater, i.e., from August 1991 to at least 19th March, 1992. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 16).

Another document that Alan received from Telstra, under FOI and dated July 1991, confirms Telstra knew, before they installed the new RCM at Cape Bridgewater in August 1991, that numerous problems affected the old RAX exchange prior to this cut-over.  This document clearly states that there were 11,000 errors per hour in direction A and 216 errors per hour in direction B, when the specified level allowed for was 72 errors per hour in both direction A and direction B.

In his letter, Mr Lucas also states that another software ‘register’ problem, relating to RVA local faults, only lasted from 2nd to 7th October ,1992, while other documents received under FOI R01444 (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 14) confirm Telstra knew that this fault was apparent from at least 2nd September, 1992.

Further documents, received from the Australian Communications Authority (“ACA”) (2001) and dated 2 March, 1994 from AUSTEL to Telstra, also show the local ‘register’ RVA fault at Heywood and the RVA MELU fault had both lasted many weeks longer than Telstra told Alan during his 1992 settlement period.

11th December, 1992:  Alan provides Telstra with three letters from clients who documented their issues when trying to contact his business (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 9-A).

During Alan’s settlement with Telstra, he produced several letters that he wrote to the local rural fault centre at Hamilton, somewhere between June 1988 and September 1989 (refer Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp documents), as well as letters from the operators of the MS Empress of Tasmania, Heywood Primary School, Collingwood Halfway House and the Haddon Community Health Centre.  Many organisations experienced difficulties contacting Alan because of the RVA phone message and wrote to him concerning this.  John Wynack, Commonwealth Ombudsman office, wrote to Telstra 11th November, 1994 asking why Telstra never returned “a number of files relating to his contacts with Telecom prior to 1991”?

DOCUMENTS C04006, C04007 and C04008

Brief summary:  when these three documents are compared to other Telstra FOI documents and those discussed here, it is obvious that, on settlement day (11th December, 1992), Telstra’s Victorian General Manager – Commercial, Ms Rosanne Pittard, knew Telstra provided Alan with a poor phone service for at least three or four years.  Telstra were aware of the problems with Alan’s phone line from April 1988, when he lodged his first complaints. (AS-CAV 1 to 47 - See AS – CAV 21)

Document 24 was used during Alan’s arbitration claim to answer Telstra’s Interrogatories.  Pages 11, 12 and 22 include references to:

When Alan arrived at the meeting with Ms Pittard on 11th December, 1992, he reminded her of correspondence he received from her office, in September and November 1992, stating the phone faults were rectified.  Yet documents C04006, C04007 and C04008 show there were a number of facts that were not provided to him during these settlement negotiations, including references to:

  1. Callers hearing an RVA message when lines into Cape Bridgewater were congested (document C04006).
  2. Issues with the wiring and cabling in Cape Bridgewater.
  3. Telecom’s history of poor performance in the area.
  4. Alan’s service problems being network related and covering a period of three to four years (document C04007).
  5. Alan’s phone service, overall, suffering from a poor grade of network performance over a period of several years, with some difficulty in detecting exchange problems in the eight months before these documents were written.

22nd December, 1992:  Telstra FOI documents, folio G95136 to G95138, are minutes taken during a scheduled conference held to discuss ongoing communication problems within the Telstra network.  These documents were only supplied to Graham Schorer on13th October, 1998 under pressure applied by the Senate working party to Telstra, and were never made available to the COT cases during their respective arbitrations.  The importance of these minutes may well have influenced a different set of findings during the COT cases’ arbitrations as they confirm there were RVA faults and lock-up problems within the Telstra’s network at the time Graham and Alan’s had complained of same. (GS-CAV 1 to 88 - See GS CAV 60)

Much of the technical equipment used by Telstra during the ’80s and ’90s was manufactured by Ericsson (Australia).  The RVA faults and lock-up problems, in many cases, were related to Ericsson equipment, including AXE exchanges.  We raise the Ericsson-manufactured telecommunication equipment issues here as Ericsson play a major role in the Lane Telecommunication conflict of interest matters discussed below.

 

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All of the main events as quoted in this unbelievable true crime story are supported by copies of the original freedom of Information documents linked in the text.

Clicking on these links with your cursor will automatically open a PDF of the exhibit/evidence that a crime was committed. Using this method and following the various file numbers discussed in our various pages, you will verify our story. Without those documents, most people would really struggle to believe that public officials and their lawyers committed the illegal offences they did.

Using the acquired evidence the way we have is possibly a world first.

ABSENT JUSTICE HAS IT ALL.

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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

“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

“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

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

– Edmund Burke