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Chapter Eight - Threats from a Senator

16th August 2001: Senator Eggleston threatens Alan with possible legal action, noting:-

“The fact that you have received unauthorised confidential committee documents is a serious matter, but if you disclose these documents to another person, you may be held in contempt of the Senate.” (AS-CAV Exhibit 234 to 281 - See AS-CAV 278)

Some of the Senate documents referred to by Senator Eggleston are in-camera Hansards, dated 6th & 9th July 1998 showing a group of Senators attempting to address Telstra’s conduct during and after the COT arbitrations.  Note: Ted Benjamin was Telstra’s Liaison Officer to Graham and Alan’s arbitrations, while a member of the TIO Council at the time.

Hansard:

“Can you see the whole thing is unfair?” …

“When I said ‘starve people into submission,’ Mr Benjamin shook his head in opposition to my comment, which he is fully entitled to do. I agree with you, Madam Chair, about the difficulty of those who have had their cases resolved under arbitration. Many of them will tell you that, if they did not accept it, they could not fight on. Some people are fighting on.” (AS-CAV Exhibit 234 to 281 - See AS-CAV 278)

With statements like this from Australia’s sitting Senators regarding Telstra, is it any wonder Alan has been threatened the way he has?  Of course, the Coalition Government didn’t want Telstra’s unethical conduct towards the COT cases exposed while they were selling off this government asset

14th September 2001:  Senator Nick Minchin’s secretary writes to Alan noting:-

“I have been in contact with the office of the Hon Richard Alston, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, and I have been advised that a reply will be sent to you shortly addressing the matters you have raised.” (AS-CAV Exhibit 234 to 281 - See AS-CAV 279)

18th October 2001:  John Neil, ACA Executive Manager, writes to Alan:-

“I advised you on 30 July 2001 that it is not the role of the ACA to address these matters. I note you have previously raised them with other authorities including the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office and the Victorian Police.

I do not propose to engage in further correspondence with you on these matters.” (AS-CAV Exhibit 234 to 281 - See AS-CAV 280)

7th November 2001:  Senator Brett Mason writes to Alan, stating:-

“As advised in my first contact with you, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts had undertaken to investigate your concerns and respond to you on behalf of the Coalition.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 282)

28th December 2001:  Alan writes to a number of Government Ministers, noting:-

“As you are already aware, I recently sold my business, the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and Convention Centre. The new owner Jenny and Darren Lewis took over on 23rd December 2001.”  AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 282 

Alan explains Mr and Mrs Lewis are experiencing phone problems and then says:

“How is it that, although the TIO, John Pinnock, is more than fully aware of the problems I have faced because of Telstra (problems which lasted for fully five years after the so-called ‘completion’ of my arbitration), he has never done anything to assist me?”

19th February 2002:  Alan offers to provide Senator Richard Alston with fresh evidence via David Hawker’s office concerning his continued allegations.

“Ms Sue Owens, Barrister, received the following information from the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman’s office early this year. The information confirms the role played by the TIO’s office in covering up criminal behaviour by Telstra, and others, during my arbitration. …

Would you prefer me to forward this fresh evidence to your office or to Senator Alston’s office?” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 283)

15th March 2002:  David Hawker MP writes to Alan:-

“I have ensured the Minister for Communications and Information Technology is aware of your offer to provide fresh evidence.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 284)

27th March 2002:  David Hawker’s writes on behalf of Senator Alston, saying:-

“I have received an interim response from the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator the Hon Richard Alston MP, which informs me the matter is currently receiving attention and will be responded to shortly.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 285)

12th July 2002: Senator Alston responds to David Hawker MP:-

“As the material provided by Mr Smith relates to the arbitration undertaken by Dr Gordon Hughes of Hunt and Hunt, under the administration of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), I have referred your letters to the TIO for advice.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 286)

17th July 2002:  The Minister’s Office writes to Alan regarding his offer to provide irrefutable evidence his arbitration was not conducted transparently by the TIO-appointed Arbitrator and Resource Unit:-

“I would, therefore, ask that you refrain from providing any further material until the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has provided advice on the material you have supplied to date.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 287)

14th October 2002:  Senator Alston’s Office writes to David Hawker MP:-

“Thank you for your representations of 23 September 2002 on behalf of Mr Alan Smith concerning Telstra. 

The issues raised in your letter are receiving attention and the Minister will respond to you shortly.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 288)

16th October 2002:  Telstra FOI folio 100264, concerns Mr Lewis’ phone faults and confirms the new owner of Alan’s business is having phone problems:

“Customer has contacted MP again re service as he is not receiving calls on message bank or *10#. Customer is aware previous owner of business also had problems with service [sic]. Customer said he was told by Telstra that there was a problem in his exchange.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 289)

18th October 2002:  Telstra FOI folio 100266 re the Lewis phone problems, says:-

“The TIO have now raised a Level 1 complaint on behalf of Mr & Mrs Lewis. The TIO have specifically mentioned in their correspondence that the TIO have previously investigated a number of complaints raised by Alan Smith the previous account holder for this service.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 290)

8th November 2002:  This Portland Observer newspaper article, entitled Holiday camp still plagued by phone and fax problems, says:-

“The telecommunications problems which plagued former Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp operator Alan Smith continued to beset current owner Darren Lewis.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 414)

Although Alan Smith’s phone problems began in 1988, it is now believed many of the phone and fax problems that occurred, at least from 1991 on, were caused by moisture and were exacerbated by heavy rainfalls in the area.  Cape Bridgewater faces the Southern Ocean and always has had a moisture problem.  This was not taken into account nor discussed, in any of the technical findings of the arbitrator or his Technical Resource Unit, even though Alan included this information in his submissions.

Please note: The Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp was also connected to a single ‘copper pair’ (see Senator Harris’ media release at GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 415).

When Senator Len Harris meets with Alan Smith and other COT claimants, Alan provides information regarding the problems Graham has experienced over the years, in his role as COT spokesperson, as well as the problems the new owners of Alan’s business are still having to contend with, including the business still being connected to the Telstra network via a single pair of wires.  Senator Harris is extremely shocked at this information and prepares a press release for the following day, on behalf of the COTs.  It was significantly censored before it was released, showing just how much power Telstra could wield, as part of their strategy, to downplay the COT claimant’s valid claims.

14th November 2002:  Senator Len Harris (One Nation) sends out his media release entitled, Alston Praying For Continued Drought.

“In other words, sell the whole shooting bag before it rains and let someone else worry about fixing it. …”

“In light of evidence presented by the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union to a senate inquiry then to the Estens inquiry, other court submissions and a large dose of anecdotal evidence from Telstra employees, there seems no doubt the copper and lead network could implode with the onset of rain.”

“Numerous reports from regional areas that have recently received rainfall, reveal the subscriber fault rate has doubled and tripled due to lack of proper maintenance, faulty materials and understaffing. …

  • Faulty materials such as Hi Gel 3M 442, that has corroded copper joints
  • Contractors cutting corners with cable installation
  • Management giving capital works an economic priority order for replacing faulty cables and equipment i.e. those exchange areas that produce the most profit given priority for repair or replacement. This process could preclude most country areas. …”

“In city and country telephone exchange areas, low gas alarms, sometimes 200 or more a day, are sending technicians in a scurry from exchanges to manholes across the city or country roads and back. …”

“According to the union the CAN or Customer Access Network (customer land lines) accounts for 50 to 60 per cent of Telstra’s fixed costs, ie maintenance bill, but generates the lowest rate of return. …”

“Some industry analysts have placed the capital expenditure to replace the aging lead and faulty copper network in the hundreds of millions to perhaps the billion-dollar range. …”

“Estens, in recommendations 2.7 and 4.2, has clearly identified problems with the pair gain system, that allows multiple calls on a single pair of wires. It provides a good financial return for Telstra but is unfair on customers and repairmen.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 415-A)

This media release, by a Senator prepared to tell the truth about the whole story, page after page, and not the story the administrators of the COT arbitrations would have preferred to see released, because the truth would show they allowed Telstra to:-

These actions have now brought Graham and Alan to where they are today.

Before Graham and Alan agreed to enter into arbitration, the then-regulator, AUSTEL (now ACMA), promised Telstra would carry out Service Verification Testing (SVT) at their business premises before the assessor/arbitrator could hand down a decision. In Graham’s case, no such testing was ever carried out and in Alan Smith’s case, Mr Pinnock, the Telstra Board, ACMA and the past-Government Minister have continually allowed Telstra to hide behind what we now know was a seriously deficient SVT at Alan’s business.

Again, this contributed to the situation facing Graham and Alan today.

GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 415-B is a copy of media release dated 31st January, 2003 which supports Darren Lewis’ continued problems with the Cape Bridgewater Coastal Camp and Senator Len Harris’ media release.

15th November 2002:  Senator Alston’s office writes to David Hawker MP:-

“Thank you for your representations of 8th November 2002, on behalf of Alan Smith concerning Telstra.

The issues raised in your letter are receiving attention and the Minister will respond to you shortly.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 291)

7th – 8th December 2002:  Toni O’Loughlin writes a Financial Review report:-

“Telstra admitted on Friday that its’ [sic] network was riddled with more than 112,000 service faults, some of which had the potential to imperil callers’ safety if not fixed. …”

“While Telstra could not confirm the accuracy of Senator Mackays’ document – which showed there were 111,755 service problems in the network – the telco admitted its’ most recent records showed the number of faults was higher at 112,159 [sic]. …

“Senator Mackay also alleged that some of the faults had been lingering for years without being fixed.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 416)

Although Alan and Graham continued to complain to Telstra and AUSTEL during their arbitrations (see Graham’s Chronology part 1, exhibit GS 191) regarding the problems and faults, Telstra’s arbitration defence of Graham and Alan claims makes no mention of its knowledge of these within their network.

Evidence provided to Mr Ralph, Deputy Chair of Telstra Board confirms Telstra acted unlawfully during Alan’s arbitration

16th December 2002:  Alan’s letter and attachments, sent to Mr Ralph, discusses the Channel Nine Sunday Program on the COT arbitration issues:-

“I understand your anger, as a board member of Telstra, but I suggest you seek out the truth of the matter before you make any more unfounded allegations.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 292)

20th December 2002:  Mr Gration, Telstra’s Corporate Secretary writes to Alan, stating:

“I refer to your letter dated 16th December to Telstra’s Deputy Chairman, John Ralph. Mr Ralph has asked me to review the material enclosed with your letter and respond on his behalf. I expect to be in a position to do so in January 2003.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 293)

19th January 2003:  Darren Lewis writes to the Hon David Hawker MP.  This 11-page letter discusses all the phone problems Mr and Mrs Lewis inherited after purchasing the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp. ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 294)

31st January 2003:  Telstra FOI 100274 concerns Mr Lewis’ phone problems.  This document was in the TIO’s Report on the Lewis issues:-

“TIO L3 complaint received. Complaint is complex and has been on-going for a while. Please refer to files for full details.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 295)

31st January 2003:  Mr Gration refuses to investigate the issues Alan raised in his correspondence to Mr Ralph, Deputy Chair of the Board.  Mr Gration states:-

“However Telstra will of course consider fairly and appropriately any fresh evidence brought to our attention in support of your claims.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 296)

Alan provides fresh evidence confirming:-

26th February 2003:  Mr Pinnock writes to Alan with more of the same denials:-

“In your letter of 3 February you state that the TIO has a duty to speak to the new owners of Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp who, you say, are blaming you for not disclosing to them ongoing problems with the telephone service. That is a matter between you and the new owners.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 297)

21st March 2003:  Law firm Harwood Andrews writes to Darren Lewis, re Alan Smith’s misleading conduct:-

“Terms of Engagement – Investigation of possible action against Alan Smith, former owner of the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp, for misrepresentation in the sale of the camp in 2001. ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 298)

When Alan sold the business to Mr Lewis, he honestly believed disgruntled Telstra employees were orchestrating the continuing problems still being experienced at the holiday camp.  He believed that as soon as a new owner purchased the business, these continuing phone and fax problems would stop.

3rd April 2003:  Mr Gration replies to Alan. This letter has to be read to be believed. Mr Gration refuses to acknowledge:-

Note: This is regarding the fresh evidence Mr Gration stated he would consider in his previous letter.

Two commercial assessment processes lost

15th April 2003:  Stringer Clark (solicitors) write to Darren Lewis regarding possible action against Alan Smith for misleading and deceptive conduct ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 300)

By the end of April 2003, Darren and Alan are discussing amicably how to overcome his anger towards Alan regarding the phone and fax problems he inherited when he purchased the business.  These discussions stopped any legal action against Alan.

14th August 2003:  Doug Field, assistant Commonwealth Ombudsman, officially transfers Alan’s fax interception complaints over to John Pinnock. ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 301)

19th August 2003:  Senator Alston’s office writes to David Hawker MP:-

“Thank you for your representation of 8 August 2003 on behalf of Alan Smith concerning Telstra services.

The issues raised in your letter are receiving attention and the Minister will respond to you shortly.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 302)

24th August 2003:  Alan provides Mr Hawker with the evidence he provided Doug Field:-

28th August 2003:  Alan writes to Mr Pinnock amid concerns the TIO won’t investigate his facsimile claims independently:-

“I sincerely hope you will provide me the results of your current investigation and thereby avoid yet another failure in your duty of care.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 304)

In this letter, Alan makes a number of statements concerning documents faxed by him during his arbitration apparently not being received by Dr Hughes.  Alan also confirms Telstra’s arbitration defence actually acknowledged Dr Hughes’ office could not have received some of Alan’s faxes, yet his Telstra fax account shows they were faxed.

3rd September 2003:  Alan writes again to Doug Field alerting him that he first raised these fax issues with the TIO’s Office back in 1994:-

“When the TIO’s office began their first investigations into the problems I was experiencing with my fax during my settlement/arbitration process in 1994, I told Warwick Smith, who was the then TIO, I had not provided all the information I had in support of my claims but he still didn’t ask to see the balance of my evidence. During the second TIO investigation into the same matters in 1997/98, I advised Wally Rothwell, then the Deputy TIO, that I still had not provided all the information I had because there were so many documents. Again the TIO’s office did not ask to see the rest of my evidence.

I await your response regarding how my evidence can be officially presented to the TIO.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 305)

During this period, neither Mr Field nor Mr Pinnock advised Alan of where he could officially send the balance of his fax evidence for the investigation. This evidence is attached to the Graham Schorer and Alan Smith fax interception file dated December 2006, exhibits 2 and 3.

12th September 2003:  David Hawker MP writes to Alan:-

“I can assure you that this week while in Canberra I personally delivered the report and a copy of your covering letter to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 306)

23rd September 2003:  David Bailey (lawyer) provides Graham with a possible Terms of Reference for Senator Len Harris to provide to the Minister for Communications, Information, Technology and the Arts for use in the forth-coming Commercial Assessment Process.

7th October 2003:  Senator Len Harris emails Graham Schorer:

“just picked this up trawling through over 1300 e-mails,”

“had a quick look at the index (Can’t go through the lot) and you seem to have covered all aspects,”

“I will start the whole process again with Daryl Williams new staff re the commercial assessment of all the Cot’s,”

“I will continue to push Kenneth and Max’s issue with Ziggy as I feel th s [sic] the way to open the door for everyone,” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 417)

Graham writes to David Bailey, summarising some of Telstra’s, and other parties, terrible conduct. (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 417)

Exhibit 418, re Independent Commercial Assessment and Resolution of Claimants Claims Against Telstra, states:-

“On behalf of the Commonwealth, the Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, undertook to Senator Len Harris to have the long outstanding Claimants’ claims in respect of alleged service difficulties, interruptions and faults against Telstra Corporation Limited (including its subsidiaries)…”

7th October 2003:  Mr Pinnock refuses to investigate the interception fax issues:-

“As you note, on 14 August 2003, the Commonwealth Ombudsman formally transferred to the TIO your complaints relating to ‘fax screening and the blank fax pages…’.

In my opinion, the information you have supplied amounts to no more than speculation and innuendo and I am not persuaded that there is credible evidence to warrant an investigation by the TIO.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 307-A)

COMMENTARY – Most important

Also attached as an exhibit ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 307-B) is a Sworn Testament from Peter Ross Hancock, dated 11th January 1999.  Mr Hancock acknowledges he provided Telecommunications services to Golden Messenger since 1992.  Mr Hancock concurs that after extensive fax testing at Golden Messenger on 4th January 1999 and 11th January 1999, he observed:

“a) the discrepancies (that is the second footprint) in the fax headers raised by the tests referred to above and b) the differences in the fax headers attached (marked ‘B’) relating to faxes”.

Mr Hancock then investigated further exhibits of faxes either received or sent between Golden Messenger and their lawyers, COT case premises and Alan Smith as has been proven elsewhere in this Chronology.

3rd December 2003:  The Minister’s office again writes to David Hawker MP:-

“Thank you for your representations of 14 November 2003 on behalf of Mr Alan Smith concerning Telstra.”

“The issues raised in your letter are receiving attention and the Minister will respond to you shortly.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 307-C)

11th December 2003:  Mr Gration, Telstra’s Corporate Secretary, writes to Alan, stating:-

“As I have stated in previous correspondence, there are clearly significant difference between your position and Telstra’s on matters you have raised.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 308)

12th January 2004:  Philip Ruddock, Attorney General, writes to Alan:-

“I refer to your letter of 13 November 2003 in relation to the arbitration of your dispute with Telstra. …

“As indicated in my letter of 10 November 2003, I am not in a position to comment on the actions of Telstra in this matter, nor am I able to comment on the conduct of the arbitration of your complaint by the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 309)

27th January 2004:  The Minister’s office again writes to David Hawker:-

“Thank you for your representations of 18 December 2003 on behalf of Alan Smith concerning Telstra issues.

“The issues in your letter are receiving attention and the Minister will respond to you shortly.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 310)

3rd February 2004:  The Federal Attorney-General’s office writes to Alan:-

“I refer to your letter of 2 December 2003 to the Attorney-General, the Hon Philip Ruddock MP, regarding alleged unlawful interception of telecommunication services. The Attorney-General has asked me to reply on his behalf. …”

“…I would encourage you to draw this to the attention of the AFP”. ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 311)

11th February 2004:  The minister writes to David Hawker MP:-

“Telstra advised the Department that it rejects Mr Smith’s claims that his facsimile messages have been intercepted. …

The TIO advised the Department that it wrote to Mr Smith 7 October 2003, advising that the information provided by Mr Smith, both directly and through the Commonwealth Ombudsman, amounted to no more than speculation and innuendo. I understand that the TIO further advised Mr Smith that the material did not warrant any further investigation by the TIO.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 312)

19th February 2004:  David Hawker MP writes to Alan:-

“At my request the Minister has again investigated your claims and he clearly supports the previous Minister’s advice that the Government is regrettably unable to assist you any further with these issues.”

“I hope you can now consider this matter closed” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 313)

25th March 2004:  John Rohan, Chair of the TIO Board writes to Alan, stating:

“Despite many criticisms of the procedures the board also notes that at no time did you seek to exercise the right of appeal provided for by the procedure. Further, that the Senate Committee did not suggest that the Award should be re-opened.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 314

COMMENTARY

2. The Senate Committee, referred to by Mr Rohan, were to investigate Alan’s matters after the first nominated COT five had their matters investigated by the Committee. Senator Richard Alston confirmed the first COT five were the litmus tests for the remaining 16 COT members on the Senate B list.  AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 314 confirms, on page four under the heading Schedule B, Alan was one of the nominated 16 names to have his arbitration FOI matters investigated.  It was only due to a coalition intervention that the 16 were not treated in a similar fashion as the first COT five.  Mr Rohan is totally incorrect when he states that:-“the Senate Committee did not suggest that the Award should be re- opened”.
3. During the Senate Committee investigation, John Pinnock informed Senator Alston that Alan’s Telstra-related arbitration issues were still under investigation. Exhibit AS 262 dated 10th February 1999 confirms Mr Pinnock was informing Coalition Government Ministers (during the period the Committee were winding down from their investigations) Alan’s billing issues were still under investigation.

12th May 2004:  Phillip Carruthers, from the TIO’s Office, writes to Alan regarding the information provided for assessment purposes.  He notes:-

“The letters for Ms Marsh, Hon Staley, Rev Dr Newell, Mr Cleary and Mr Brown will be passed on to them by hand at the Council meeting scheduled for 19 May 2004.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 315)

29th July 2004:  The Hon. Tony Staley, TIO Council Chair writes to Alan:

“I have been authorised by the Council of the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Scheme to reply to letters which you have sent to various members of Council, including myself.  Council is aware that you have sent the same or similar letters to Directors of the TIO Board. …

“It is not within the role of the TIO Council to reconsider the Arbitrator’s conduct or the Award we made.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 316)

8th October 2004:  Mr Rohan, TIO Board Chair, and Mr Staley write to Alan:-.

“Mr Warwick Smith has not been an employee of the TIO Ltd for many years, meaning that the Board and Council have little or no practical ability or need to reprimand him even if any misconduct by him could now be proven.

“In light of all of the above, neither the Board nor Council considers it necessary or appropriate to consider your recent claims any further.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 317)

10th January 2005:  Mr Rohan and Mr Staley try to minimise Alan and the truth concerning what he uncovered:-

“Having read that letter, it remains the case that neither the Board nor Council of the TIO Limited considers that Mr Warwick Smith or Mr John Pinnock has acted inappropriately regarding your arbitration or associated matters.

Neither the Council nor the Board considers it necessary or appropriate to consider your recent claims any further

Insofar as your claims relate to alleged criminal conduct, they should be referred to the proper authorities.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 318)

22nd April 2005:  Senator Helen Coonan’s office writes to Alan: 

“I refer to your further correspondence of 22 March 2005 to the Hon David Hawker MP concerning your claims against Telstra.

I wish to correct the impression that the Minister is investigating further claims against Telstra, including claims by some of the original ‘Casualties of Telecom’.” ( AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 319-A

15th September 2005:  Senator Barnaby Joyce writes to both Graham and Alan:-

“As a result of my thorough review of the relevant Telstra sale legislation, I proposed a number of amendments which were delivered to Minister Coonan. In addition to my requests, I sought from the Minister closure of any compensatory commitments given by the Minister or Telstra and outstanding legal issues. …”

“I am pleased to inform you that the Minister has agreed there needs to be finality of outstanding COT cases and related disputes. The Minister has advised she will appoint an independent assessor to review the status of outstanding claims and provided a basis for these to be resolved.”(GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See  GS-CAV 419)

22nd September 2005:  An internal Coalition email, concerning the agreed-to COT commercial settlement proposal, from Nikki Vajrabukka notes:-

“Key issues for consideration include:

Analysis of Senator Joyce’s request, and Minister’s response
What the Minister can and can’t do
Whether there is any basis to re-open the investigations/appoint an independent assessor
If so, who will that be?
What powers does the Minister have to direct a person to do so (for example direct the TIO to revisit the cases?)
Whether there were any compensatory commitments or warrants of compensation given by the Minister, the Department or Telstra.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See  GS-CAV 420)

Please note:  the question as to whether the Minister had the power to grant a Commercial Assessment was only raised with Senator Joyce after the Coalition Government secured his crucial vote for the full privatisation of Telstra

29th September 2005:  David Lever, Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, sends an internal email to from to a number of Department Personnel regarding an Independent Assessor:

“Matt Stafford rang to say that the Minister wants a draft letter to Senator Joyce by Friday next week that:

  • re-states what she said she would do in her last letter to him;
  • demonstrates that processes are in place to meet her commitment;
  • indicates the cases/persons who the independent assessment would cover, and
  • asks Senator Joyce whether this should meet his needs. …

“I suggest that we do all we can to restrict coverage to the 16 COTs that were considered by AUSTEL in its 1994 report as inclusion of any others without some justification, eg that they were mentioned in the Senate’s 1999 report on COTs, would risk irresistible pressure to extend to numerous others who have had disputes with Telstra over the past 10 years. …”

“I also suggested that there may be advantages in appointing ACMA as the independent assessor rather than a consultant to the Department. He has not opposed to this idea.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 421)

The Hon Senator Coonan Reneges on her Commitment given to Senator Barnaby Joyce Re: Independent Assessment Process

Bullet point 2 above confirms there was a process in place to meet Senator Helen Coonan’s commitment given to Senator Joyce for his vote to allow the government to privatise Telstra. So why did the Minister’s Department not honour that commitment once Senator Joyce cast his vote?  This misleading and deceptive, unconscionable conduct caused Graham and Alan further trauma.

18th October 2005:  An internal memo to Senator Helen Coonan states:-

“Senator Joyce has written to you seeking urgent advice on your proposed approach to the conduct of independent assessments of various claims against Telstra by customers or former customers or contractors of Telstra.
We propose you ask the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to conduct the assessments. …
There is significant risk for the Government if expectations in relation to compensation are created among claimants that cannot be met by the Government.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See  GS-CAV 422)

GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 423 is an unsigned Government memo from Senator Coonan’s office, received by the Cot cases during their FOI requests to the Minister’s office regarding this assessment process.

“According to Minister’s understanding, assessor to:

  • review the status of all outstanding claims and
  • provide a basis for any sustainable claims that have not been resolved through earlier processes to negotiate a possible settlement with Telstra”

“Possible Loopholes

  • ‘sustainable claims not resolved through earlier processes’ – on the basis that information provided by the claimants raises no new issues, particularly regulatory issues that require addressing by the Minister or the ACA/ACMA.
  • If concerns relate to conduct of Telstra, then these should be raised with the Commonwealth Ombudsman?
  • If the CoTS have evidence of unlawful activities, these should be brought to the attention of the police or relevant law enforcement authorities.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See  GS-CAV 423)

19th October 2005:  David Lever, advisor to Senator Coonan, emails Departmental Personnel:

“As discussed with Andrew yesterday, the minister has signed and sent a letter to Barnaby Joyce that deals with the above and local presence plan issues. We have not seen it but I made comments on the draft sent yesterday afternoon by matt, seeking to retain the tight constraints on the scope of the assessment, which he had relaxed.”

Simon Bryant responds:-

“I think Jodi be getting confused about what the assessment is meant to do (or at least what we are recommending) ie an assessment of process and what further resolution channels may be available to people. We are arguing strongly that the assessment should not be about the merits of each case.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 424)

QUESTIONS

  1. Who was Simon Bryant, to argue strongly “that the assessment should not be about merits of each case”?
  2. How can an independent commercial assessment process be independent, if those administering the process seek to retain tight constraints on the scope of the assessment process?
  3. Why did the Federal Government give Senator Joyce its commitment, in exchange for his vote to allow the Telstra privatisation bill to be passed. Then, as soon as they secured his vote, renege on that commitment?

21st December 2005:  David Lever emails TIO John Pinnock:-

“Subject: independent assessment of claims against Telstra …

“Some of the former ‘COTs’ are among the 22 who will be asked if they wish to participate in the process. …

“The assessment will focus on process rather than the merits of claims, including whether all available dispute resolution mechanism have been used.” (GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447 - See GS-CAV 425)

3rd March 2006:  In AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323 - See AS-CAV 320, Alan advises Mr Pinnock, that he is about to enter the Minister’s independent assessment process and requires a number documents held by the TIO.

As of 2018, Alan still hasn’t seen the documents he requested.

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Absent Justice Ebook

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‘Absent Justice’

In Alan Smith’s new book he shows us the twisting path of government arbitration,
the ways it can go wrong and how to make sure it doesn’t go wrong for you...

It's free - double click on the front cover of the book.

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

“…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

“…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

“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

“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