PLEASE NOTE: this version of Bad Bureaucrats was created on 27 January 2016 and is a work in progress. Last edited August 2020.
Taking on the Establishment
In April 2006 the Australian Government officially agreed to investigate the issues now raised on absentjustice.com and then, since I had uncovered the evidence I needed to prove that my twenty-eight individual submissions were correct, the Government advised me to take the Telstra Corporation to the High Court. Lack of funding meant, of course, that this was not possible, and so the Federal Government then suggested that perhaps the Victorian Government should investigate because, after all, the crimes were actually committed in Victoria.
The Victoria Government agreed to investigate in October 2007 and then discovered that many of the arbitration documents I had faxed to the arbitrator may have been intercepted by someone with access to Telstra’s network, so they too called a halt to their investigations.
In June 2009, incensed at what I had exposed concerning the COT arbitrator, the Hon Michael D Kirby AO, an ex-High Court Judge but then the President of the Institute of Arbitrators and Mediators Australia (IAMA), sent two of my twenty-eight submissions to Paul Crowley, the CEO of the IAMA and advised me, in writing, that Mr Crowley would be contacting me. Mr Crowley then phoned me and confirmed that the IAMA Ethics and Professional Affairs Committee would investigate and that discussion was followed by some five different emails from the IAMA between July and October 2009, confirming that the IAMA was still investigating my evidence. Between 2011 and 2014 however, the IAMA notified me that they would not hand down a finding in relation to my claims and nor would they return my evidence.
In 2015, after putting a number of my documents up on my LinkedIn site, a number of offshore lawyers emailed me to express their shock and disbelief in relation to my situation. One of them, a lawyer practicing in the Egyptian Court in Cairo, said that he would be willing to provide his legal opinion regarding six separate areas where he believed the arbitration process had failed the first four COT claimants and so, with his permission, I then sent a copy of his two-page document to the Australian Federal Police, along with his name, although I decided not to publish his name on the website. Since then he has notified me that I can now identify him in any manuscript I might prepare regarding the first four COT arbitrations, and I can also explain his reasons for believing that the arbitration process failed the COTs. We have now been corresponding in relation to the arbitration process for the last eighteen months.
So, on one hand, we have two Australian Government investigations and one IAMA investigation that have all apparently ended, but not one of those three will hand down a finding. On the other hand, an Egyptian legal advisor on LinkedIn clearly sees injustices that he is prepared to put his name to, if or when I publish my manuscript “Absent Justice.”
Because Alaa, my Egyptian lawyer LinkedIn contact is a Muslim residing overseas I provided his legal advice concerning the unethical way in which he notes my arbitration was conducted to the Australian Federal Police as a testament that what Alaa see’s as injustice is true and correct.
Telstra management and Telstra employees actually committed numerous crimes against the COT claimants – ordinary Australian citizens who were only trying to run their businesses. It is clear there was only one reason for these multiple Telstra crimes: to stop the public from learning just how seriously faulty Telstra’s copper-wire network really was. And they achieved that aim – so far – for close to 24 years. Even more scandalous is that someone on Telstra’s management team was able to force a legally appointed arbitrator to use an agreement (i.e., the rules of the process) that Telstra, themselves, drafted; with limited time-frames so the COT claimants did not have enough time to properly prepare their claims. Although his technical advisers warned the arbitrator, in writing, that they had still not finalised their investigations into my losses and therefore their report was not complete, the arbitrator still went ahead and completed my arbitration before reporting the deficiencies in the agreement to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman. Once the arbitrator recognised the deficiencies in the agreement, he should have abandoned my arbitration and started again with a truly independently designed agreement. He did NOT.
Perhaps even more unbelievable is that the COT cases received no recognition, from either the government or Telstra, for our stand for honesty and truth; instead, we have been treated in the worst possible way, labelled as vexatious litigants and our lives have been ruined, simply because we believed that what we were doing would eventually benefit all Australians.
At the time, those COT Cases who had NOT already lost their businesses (as a direct result of the poor network services provided by Telstra) didn’t know that, after being pressured into signing up to the arbitration process, once they had been actually locked in to that process, the ongoing telephone problems that sent those claimants into arbitration in the first place were then covered up by the arbitration process so that the arbitrator then only awarded the claimants for damage caused BEFORE they went into arbitration, while completely ignoring the problems that continued to haunt those businesses and, eventually, drive them to the wall. In other words, the arbitration process was nothing but a ruse that led to the COT Cases paying dearly while Telstra played catch-up, and the end result of all that was a very poor, Australia-wide, National Broadband Network (NBN) system as the following segments show below.
As we started to tell our COT vs Telstra arbitration stories and placing each collusive and deceitful act into some sequence, we found many further acts of collusion and deceit committed by others outside of our arbitrations. As the website grows, we have discovered some issues relate to more than one event and, in fact, are often linked to multiple events and therefore one event may need repeating in different sections of the website, to enable the depth of the corruption and illegal activities committed during the arbitration to be fully understood. Hence a number of previously detailed situations in other parts of absentjustice.com are used here, again, and we make no apology for that.
It became obvious many problems experienced by the COT cases originated from negligence on the part of a number of government agencies. Therefore, we have used page 3 of the Australian Herald Sun newspaper dated 22 December 2008, written under the heading Bad bureaucrats as proof that government public servants need to be held accountable for their wrong doings.
“Hundreds of federal public servants were sacked, demoted or fined in the past year for serious misconduct. Investigations into more than 1000 bureaucrats uncovered bad behaviour such as theft, identity fraud, prying into file, leaking secrets. About 50 were found to have made improper use of inside information or their power and authority for the benefit of themselves, family and friends“
It is also most important to link how, on 2 February 1995, AUSTEL (the Government Communications Regulator) public servants decided to withhold their true findings from the then-Minister for Communications, Michael Lee MP, regarding the deficient arbitration Service Verification Tests (SVT) conducted at my Cape Bridgewater business on 29 September 1994. My own story on the website absentjustice.com includes examples of the way some bad bureaucrats clearly favoured Telstra during the COT arbitrations, to the detriment of the claimants. Altering the facts of their findings is appalling enough but, according to the Telecommunications Act 1991, AUSTEL was duty-bound, under Section 342 of the Act, to provide the Communications Minister (the Hon Michael Lee MP) with all of their findings regarding the deficiencies in their Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp SVT process.
We will never know what action the Hon Michael Lee MP might have taken in 1994, had the government bureaucrats advised the Minister that the SVT testing at my Cape Bridgewater business had not occurred according to mandatory government communications regulatory specifications. On 12 December 1994, as part of Telstra’s arbitration defence, it was stated under oath to the arbitrator in my case, that all three of the service lines tested at my holiday camp on 29 September 1994, had exceeded all of AUSTEL’s specifications. However, the person who made this statement could not get the SVT monitoring device to work in conjunction with its sister device installed at the Cape Bridgewater unmanned road-side exchange.
It is clear from absentjustice.com Main Evidence Files (2) and (3) that these tests had not been performed, however Telstra stated under oath that they had been. Further exhibits on absentjustice.com and Telstra correspondence to AUSTEL during November 1994, show that Telstra dictated to AUSTEL which information they could or could not provide to the Australian public concerning the SVT testing process of the six cases tested to that date, which included my business.
In simple terms, in 1994 Telstra called the shots on how the government, as the regulator during the COT arbitrations, could or could not proceed. Sadly, the Herald Sun statement concerning corrupt conduct of government bureaucrats suggests this conduct was still present in their ranks 14 years after the COT arbitrations.
Over the years, I have received numerous comments from different people, along the lines of “Those copper wire issues should have been addressed two decades ago”. Most of these comments came from people who had read my manuscript Ring for Justice, and/or some of the information now available at absentjustice.com/Front Page Part One File No/7- [p 1] and Front Page Part Two File No/7- [P 2], under the heading ‘Can We Fix The Can (customer access network)’, particularly in relation to how the corroded copper-wire network was continuing to destroy telephone dependent businesses around Australia, while senior Telstra executives refused to consider the issue at all. The COT Cases themselves have been saying for years that, if AUSTEL and Telstra had properly advised the relevant government communications ministers of the truth about the poor condition of the copper-wire network, some of the decisions made by those government ministers during the selling off of Telstra and the upgrade of its infrastructure, might have been completely different. The latest news (in 2018) regarding the NBN (see NBN boss blames Government’s reliance on copper for slow …) suggests that someone should have been listening to the complaints that the COT Cases lodged in relation to the ongoing problems that continued to haunt them, even after their arbitrations were over, and they should have been listened to as a priority.
When the COT Cases disclosed to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman and his Deputy the truth surrounding how bad Telstra’s network was affecting their businesses those bureaucrats were recycled into another position where they assisted the powers to be to conceal the truth in what the COT Cases had proved.
Copper Wire was not compatible
The Hon David Hawker MP, who was also the Speaker in the House of Representatives in the John Howard government, was aware of just how bad the corroding copper-wire network (CAN) was in his electorate, at least between 1993 and 2006. In fact, he worked with me throughout this very difficult period, including convening a number of meetings locally and in Parliament House in Canberra between 1994 and 2006, in order to provide regular updates to the government regarding the CAN problems his electorate was experiencing. The Liberal National Party and the government communications regulator cannot deny they knew exactly how bad the CAN was between 1993 and 2011, particularly as I alerted the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA), in 2008 and 2011 during my two Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) FOI hearings, and even provided the government solicitors and ACMA with numerous documents that I collated from 1993, when the COT cases first exposed these serious problems with the CAN. These documents provide clear proof of just how bad the CAN was and how many Australian citizens were still suffering from serious problems as a result of the corroded copper-wire network.
To investigate these CAN issues, download a full copy of my report, Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report, because this report explains how, during the COT cases’ arbitrations in 1994 to 1995, AUSTEL provided The Hon Michael Lee MP, then Minister for Communications, with advice regarding Telstra’s fudged testing of at least one COT case’s CAN, i.e., my business premises, even though AUSTEL knew the SVT process at my premises fudged. Remember the COT SVT was a condition AUSTEL applied to Telstra in 1993: if Telstra limited the Bell Canada International Inc testing by only testing from one exchange to another, and not testing the wiring to the COT cases’ CAN, then the SVT process had to be carried out at each of the COT cases’ business CANs, also.
Telstra had so much power over AUSTEL that it forced AUSTEL to drastically reduce the numbers they included in their original COT Case April 1994 Report, from some 120,000 COT-type customers who were having similar CAN problems, right around Australia (see Falsification Report File No/8) to 50-plus. Telstra was also somehow able to force AUSTEL to submit fabricated SVT reports to the minister via their third quarterly COT Cases Report of 2 February 1995.
Of course, since the arbitrator was clearly protecting the government during our arbitrations, he found that there were no more ongoing problems affecting the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and his award of 11 May 1995 only reported on old, historic, anecdotal Telstra-related faults and ignored the still-ongoing faults that were still occurring.
The Briefcase Saga
It is important to return to 3 June 1993: the day two Telstra senior technical consultants inadvertently left a briefcase at my premises (see Arbitrator Part One, Chapter Two).
The important documents in that briefcase provided evidence discussing the manner in which Telstra settled with me in December 1992. Handwritten notes stating my phone problems had been continuing for months were part of this Aladdin’s cave. Most importantly, this evidence shows Telstra knew major faults still existed in its network at the time of the settlement (see Main Evidence File No 26, for example) but it did not disclose this to me during the settlement process. The documents exposed Telstra was fully aware its inadequate service and major communication problems affected the viability of my business endeavours and other businesses throughout Telstra’s network. Official Senate estimate committee Hansard records show Senator Richard Alston, the then Shadow Minister for Communications, discussing the Problem 1 document on 25 February 1994 during a hearing. Another previously unseen document, dated 24 July 1992 and provided to Senator Richard Alston in August 1993, includes my phone number and refers to my complaint that people ringing me get an RVA service disconnected message. A further document, dated 27 July 1992, discusses problems experienced by potential clients who tried to contact me from Station Pier in Melbourne. Some of these handwritten records go back to October 1991 and many of them were fault complaints that I did not recorded myself. Telstra, however, has never explained who authorised the withholding of the names of those who complained to Telstra from me. If I had known who had been unable to contact me, I could have contacted them with an alternate contact number for future reference.
On 27 August 1993, Telstra’s corporate secretary wrote to me about the same ‘briefcase’ documents, noting:
“Although there is nothing in these documents to cause Telecom any concern in respect of your case, the documents remain Telecom’s property and therefore are confidential to us. …
“I would also ask that you do not make this material available to anyone else.” (See Open Letter File No/2)
Telstra’s FOI document, dated 23 August 1993, and labelled folio R09830 with the subject listed as The Briefcase, is alarming, to say the least. This document, which was copied to Telstra’s corporate secretary, notes:
“Subsequently it was realised that the other papers could be significant and these were faxed to Craig Downing but appear not to have been supplied to Austel at this point.
“The loose papers on retrofit could be sensitive and copies of all papers have been sent to Ross Marshall.” (See Arbitrator File No 62)
The sensitive papers referred to above, of which Telstra’s corporate secretary claimed, “nothing in these documents to cause Telecom any concern in respect of your case”, actually provided clear evidence that Telstra’s management concealed from me, for many years, the actual state the network in Cape Bridgewater.
In 2002, when the new owners of my business started to renovate the office and residence, the builders assisting in this work, after pulling of the facia boards to gain access (see opposite), found exposed telephone wires full of water and corroding. This new wiring was installed by Telstra, 11 years previously. Page 5 of AUSTEL’s covert findings regarding my ongoing telephone faults confirms this: “May 1991 (approx) New wiring installed inside and outside office and main kitchen at Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp. Rented telephone equipment replaced.” (See download attachment Open Letter File No/4) The opposite photo is part of that new wiring.
Also in download Open Letter File No/4, on page 10, AUSTEL bureaucrats noted:
“Whilst Network Investigation and Support advised that all faults were rectified, the above faults and record of degraded service minutes indicate a significant network problem from August 1991 to March 1993.”
Telstra not only left the wiring under the office half exposed to the elements of the Cape Bridgewater coast (the camp faces the southern ocean), but AUSTEL found Telstra “advised that all faults were rectified” while Telstra’s own records indicate there were “significant network problem from August 1991 to March 1993”.
The pressure on all four of us COT cases was immense, with television and newspaper interviews as well as our continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now but I continued to hammer for change in rural telephone services. The Hon David Hawker MP, my local Federal Member of Parliament corresponded with me from 26 July 1993.
“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.” (Arbitrator File No/76)
On 18 August 1993, The Hon David Hawker MP wrote to me again, noting:
“Further to your conversations with my electorate staff last week and today I am enclosing a copy of the correspondence I have received from Mr Harvey Parker, Group Managing Director of Commercial and Consumer division of Telecom.
“I wrote to him outlining the problems of a number of Telecom customers in the Western Districts, including the extensive problems you have been experiencing.” (Arbitrator File No/77)
On 9 December 1993, the Hon David Hawker MP wrote to congratulate me for my “persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.” (See Arbitrator File No/82)
This was very affirming, as was another letter dated 9 December 1993 and copied to me from the Hon David Beddall MP, Minister for Communications, in the Labor government, who wrote:
“Let me say that the Government is most concerned at allegations that Telecom has not been maintaining telecommunications service quality at appropriate levels. I accept that in a number of cases, including Mr Smith’s there has been great personal and financial distress. This is of great concern to me and a full investigation of the facts is clearly warranted.” (Arbitrator File No/82)
AUSTEL’s formal COT cases/BCI test report was submitted to the government on 13 April 1994 (prior to the 21 April 1994 signing of the arbitration agreement and before the final COT report was provided to the communications minister). The COT case arbitration lock-up hearing, in AUSTEL’s Queen Street offices, Melbourne, in March 1994, took place seven months after Mr Davey wrote his August 1993 letter. During that hearing, Mr Davey pulled Graham Schorer, COT spokesperson, and me aside and told us Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) never investigated Telstra’s CAN in relation to the COT claims because Telstra promised AUSTEL that it would do the mandatory line testing, through the CAN, to each business in arbitration. Telstra had also promised its testing would be completed prior to arbitration.
At this meeting, AUSTEL’s chair Robin Davey also reminded Graham Schorer and me of commitments stated in a letter (dated 23 September 1992) from Telecom’s commercial and consumer managing director:
“The key problem is that discussion 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. … Until we have an understanding of these continuing and possibly unique faults, we have no basis for negotiation or settlement.” (Arbitrator File No/78, AUSTEL COT Case Report, point 5.7)
I cannot recall how many COTs attended this locked-up AUSTEL meeting, but I do remember there were at least seven of us who were quite vocal. I also recollect very clearly what I spoke about and which documents we were told we could not take out of the building. One thing was very obvious from all the security arrangements around the reading of the draft of AUSTEL’s COT Case Report: the government regulator did not want the public to know what the COT and AUSTEL investigations had uncovered in relation to the many systemic faults within Telstra’s copper wire and fibre network.
On 26 August 1993, Robin Davey wrote to the then-Minister for Communications, the Hon David Beddall MP, advising him many of the matters raised by the COT cases indicated the existence of major problems in Telstra’s network. Eventually I received a copy of this letter under FOI and found that, on page 4, under the heading “Cape Bridgewater,” AUSTEL notes, “Telecom has admitted existences of unidentified faults to AUSTEL.”
Bell Canada International Inc – COT testing process
If BCI had tested all of the CAN, including Telstra’s pits, back in 1993, it would have instantly revealed just how bad Telstra’s copper-wire network was.
The five COTs whose arbitrations followed mine were later included in individual Senate estimates committee investigations into the way Telstra withheld arbitration documents from the COTs and, during those Senate investigations, a number of the helpful senators also proved deliberate fax interceptions occurred, particularly whenever George Close (COT case technical consultant) sent faxes listing the type of documents the COTs needed to request from Telstra and those faxes went from his office to the COTs. As my evidence shows, in many cases, the withheld documents were directly related to the faulty telephone exchange equipment Telstra used, even though telecommunication companies in other countries had already completely discarded that equipment or at least complained about it to the manufacturers. George’s research uncovered Telstra’s appalling decision to continue to use faulty equipment, to the detriment of their customers: this was discovered as a result of evidence I collected and gave to George, even though both the TIO and TIO-appointed arbitration technical consultants previously ignored that evidence.
After I uncovered the arbitrator and/or his arbitration resource unit acted in concert with Telstra to prevent the ongoing billing issues from being addressed during my arbitration, I contacted Amanda Davis, (AUSTEL’s previous general manager of affairs). Ms Davis had warned her subordinates, in late 1992 or early 1993, it was apparent Telstra’s network was suffering with major network faults and this should be made known to the assessors and arbitrators appointed to the COT processes. This, of course, did not happen.
Bad Bureaucrats shows why the TIO and the arbitrator should have conducted the COT arbitrations according to the original agreement reached in 1993 (as well as AUSTEL’s COT Cases Report of April 1994), which clearly stipulated Telstra would carry out the AUSTEL-designed SVTs, via the Customer Access Network (CAN), to ALL the COT businesses who were to go through assessment and/or arbitration. The arbitration technical consultants should have been the umpire of the tests, not the defendants. Yet the agreement reached between the government regulator AUSTEL and Telstra allowed for Telstra to limit the Bell Canada International testing process so it would bypass the COT cases’ customer access network CAN. This allowed Telstra more time to purchase the proper SVT equipment that would be used in the forthcoming COT arbitrations before the arbitration was concluded. This decision was made because, by the time of the 1993 negotiations, AUSTEL and the COTs had discovered how bad the copper-wire feeding the CAN actually was. The results of the SVT of each COT business was then to be provided to the arbitrator so the arbitrator could determine whether the phone and faxing problems that brought the claimants to arbitration in the first place had been properly fixed. AUSTEL designed the SVTs because it would be pointless for the arbitrator to hand down a final award if the SVT results showed the problems still existed.
Arbitrator Part Two shows, beyond all doubt, Telstra executives chose to lie under oath, claiming that the SVT process met all of the regulatory requirements when, at my premises at least, the mandatory incoming SVT testing to my three service lines were in fact grossly deficient (see Arbitrator File No/110).
If the arbitrator had actually appointed an independent umpire to ensure the defendants (Telstra) conducted the SVT process properly, according to AUSTEL’s mandatory requirements, that umpire would have known no such incoming tests were conducted to my service lines through the CAN.
Between 29 September 1994, when this SVT process was supposed to be carried out, and 10 October 1994, my partner and I sent individual statutory declarations to the arbitrator, the TIO, AUSTEL and Telstra and I continued to write letters regarding this failed process until 15 February 1995 (see Bad Bureaucrats File No/15). After my letters to the TIO and arbitrator on 2 and 10 October 1994, I telephoned the TIO’s office to demand that, as administrators of my arbitration, they call on DMR Australia Pty Ltd, the organisation assigned to assess any technical matters that arose, to fulfil their role in relation to the SVTs: my request was denied.
A Telstra internal email, dated 13 December 1993, shows AUSTEL’s deputy chair Dr Bob Horton allowed Telstra to limit their mandatory parameter testing to only those customers that Telstra stated required testing, i.e.,
“This E-Mail is to alert you to a possible regulatory interaction with the current work on ‘COTS Cases’ and ongoing work with AUSTEL on network performance.
“As you know, a Ministerial Direction gave AUSTEL power to set end-to-end network performance standards. …
“The AUSTEL staff member leading the group originally wanted a very wide list of mandatory parameters but after discussion with Bob Horton and a presentation to the Standards Advisory Committee by [name redacted], AUSTEL have agreed to limit the scope of the initial work to the few parameters our customer surveys had shown as being of most concern.” (See Arbitrator File No/72)
Dr Horton was AUSTEL’s acting chair at the time. It is easy to see just how bad this situation was for me by simply linking this limiting of the mandatory testing with another Telstra internal email, dated 15 November 1993, which states that:
“Parameters for Cape Bridgewater RCM have been obtained, but I don’t believe them – I am attempting to check them. Some of the people supplying this information live in ‘old Telecom’!” (See Arbitrator File No/73)
The following is from the transcript of an oral interview of AUSTEL’s representatives, Bruce Matthews and John McMahon, conducted at the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office on 22 September 1994. On page 7 of this transcript, John Wynack asks, “What was the date the report was issued, the AUSTEL report?”
AUSTEL’s representative replies, “The final report was April – I can’t remember the date in April, but April 1994. The draft report was produced in March 1994 and Telecom received their copy of that at the time.” (See Destruction of Evidence / Perverting The Course of Justice/Falsification Reports File No/4)
While this statement by one of AUSTEL’s representatives makes it clear Telstra received a copy of AUSTEL’s draft findings, NONE of the information in this report, which enabled the government communications regulator (AUSTEL) to arrive at their adverse findings against the Telstra Corporation, was ever made available to the COT claimants during their arbitrations. The version we received in 2007 was certainly not the draft version we viewed in the lock-up meeting.
The following letters, dated 8 and 9 April 1994, to AUSTEL’s chair from Telstra’s group general manager, suggests AUSTEL was far from truly independent, but rather could be manipulated to alter their official findings in their COT reports, just as Telstra requests in many of the points in this first letter. For example, Telstra writes:
“The Report, when commenting on the number of customers with COT-type problems, refers to a research study undertaken by Telecom at Austel’s request. The Report extrapolates from those results and infers that the number of customers so affected could be as high as 120 000. …
And the next day:
“In relation to point 4, you have agreed to withdraw the reference in the Report to the potential existence of 120,000 COT-type customers and replace it with a reference to the potential existence of “some hundreds” of COT-type customers” (See Open Letter File No/11)
Point 2.71 in AUSTEL’s April 1994 formal report notes:
“the number of Telecom customers experiencing COT type service difficulties and faults is substantially higher than Telecom’s original estimate of 50”.
The fact that Telstra (the defendants) was able to pressure the government regulator to change its original findings in the formal 13 April 1994 AUSTEL report is deeply disturbing. The 120,000 other customers – ordinary Australian citizens who were experiencing COT-type problems – are not referred to in the Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) report (see Senate Evidence File No 28), although this was used by them to determine the validity of the COT claims.
AUSTEL’S Second Quarterly Report
AUSTEL supplied the quarterly COT Cases Report (see Arbitrator File No/100) to communications minister, the Hon Michael Lee MP, on 13 April 1994. Points 5.31 and 5.32, in this AUSTEL report, highlight the continuing phone and fax problems encountered by the four original COT claimants’ businesses and AUSTEL directed Telstra to carry out the SVTs at claimants’ premises using AUSTEL specifications, to verify the phone services were now operating at proper working standard, but this did not eventuate. (See Open Letter File No/22)
On 15 July, 1995 AUSTEL’s previous General Manager of Consumer Affairs provided me with an open letter noting:
“I am writing this in support of Mr Alan Smith, who I believe has a meeting with you during the week beginning 17 July. I first met the COT Cases in 1992 in my capacity as General Manager, Consumer Affairs at Austel. The “founding” group were Mr Smith, Mrs Ann Garms of the Tivoli Restaurant, Brisbane, Mrs Shelia Hawkins of the Society Restaurant, Melbourne, Mrs Maureen Gillian of Japanese Spare Parts, Brisbane, and Mr Graham Schorer of Golden Messenger Couriers, Melbourne. Mrs. Hawkins withdrew very early on, and I have had no contact with her since.
During my time at Austel I pressed as hard as I could for an investigation into the complaints. The resistance to that course of action came from the then Chairman. He was eventually galvanised into action by ministerial pressure. The Austel report looks good to the casual observer, but it has now become clear that much of the information accepted by Austel was at best inaccurate, and at worst fabricated, and that Austel knew or ought to have known this at the time.”
Had the Government Communications Regulator AUSTEL/ACMA not concealed their Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp covert report from the Minister for Communications and the arbitrator, the arbitrator would have been compelled to investigate as to whether my claims of ongoing problems was a valid claim. Below are just some examples of the information concealed from the arbitrator.
Before the arbitrations actually began
Before the arbitrations actually began, the arbitrator was provided with a report that was officially submitted to all parties involved in the first four arbitrations as well as various government ministers. This report, dated 13 April 1993, states, at point 5.78: “an agreed standard of service, being developed in consultation with AUSTEL [the then government communications regulator] to be applied to any case subject to settlement is essential”. It is clear from this 258-page report, and other similar statements made by AUSTEL, that no finding by the arbitrator could be brought down until Telstra had proved it had fixed all of the ongoing telephone problems being experienced by those entering settlement and/or arbitration. After all, what was the purpose of an arbitration process if the claimants’ businesses were still affected by the ongoing problems that brought them into the process in the first place?
Point 5.25, 5.29 and 5.32 in this public report (see AUSTEL Evidence File 1-A 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. Mr Smith has informed AUSTEL that his major concern and stipulated condition at the time of ‘settlement’ was that his service should operate, and continue to operate, at normal standards”.
“The fifth of the original COT Cases, Mr Schorer, had particular concerns about Telecom’s limited liability and the impact that the limitations was likely to have on any claim he might make for compensation arising from an inadequate telephone service.
“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 a 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.
In the case of at least six of the Service Verification Tests conducted at the COT-cases businesses including my businesses, NO supervised testing of those service lines were carried out by anyone other than the defendants Telstra i.e. NO independent arbitration umpire was present when these tests used by Telstra as defence documents were in attendance when they were conducted. As shown in my own report titled > Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report, Telstra fabricated their Cape Bridgewater SVT arbitration testing.
The attachments accompanying my reply to Telstra’s arbitration defence, which I provided to Dr Hughes in person and were never returned to me after my arbitration, confirm I challenged Telstra arbitration engineer Peter Gamble’s witness statement of 12 December 1994, in which he states he conducted the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp SVT testing and exceeded all of AUSTEL specifications. (See Telstra’s Falsified SVT ‘unmasked identities’) Dr Hughes’ award findings made NO comment on my challenge stating Mr Gamble perverted the course of justice when he submitted his report. Introduction File No/4-A and File No/4-B, the CCAS data (File No/4-F) and the falsified SVT information all confirm Mr Gamble mislead and deceived the arbitration process concerning the not-tested Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp services.
The Senate Hansard (see Introduction File No/6) of 24 June 1997 confirms ex-Telstra employee, turned whistleblower, advised a Senate committee, under oath, that Peter Gamble was one of the two Telstra employees who told him the first five COT cases (and naming me as one of the five) had to be stopped at all cost from proving our claims.
The fact that Dr Hughes disallowed his own technical consultants the extra time they required to investigate my complaints of ongoing telephone problems, including my claims the SVT process was aborted, suggests Dr Hughes was clearly biased. My arbitration lawyers also thought the same (see Open Letter File No/51-C).
On 9 March 1995, after the Telstra Corporation had offered DMR (Australia), the arbitration technical consultants, an offer they could not possibly refuse and they pulled out of the COT arbitration process – leaving the COT cases stranded with no one in Australia left who they believed Telstra would not compromise. We four COT cases wanted to amend our claims and at the same time call for a halt until an honest technical broker could be found: impossible in the current situation with Telstra commanding power over most, if not all, of the technical consultants in Australia.
As a compromise, to avoid delaying the arbitration process, the TIO wrote to the four COT cases advising us Paul Howell of DMR Group Inc in Canada had agreed to be the principal technical advisor to the resource unit if we accepted Lane. David Read of Lane was ex-Telstra and therefore the COT cases should never have been placed in a position of having to accept Lane. We received many telephone calls and correspondence from the TIO, promising us that DMR (Canada) would be the principal consultants and assuring us our concerns would be looked after in this matter. Eventually, we accepted Lane as assistants to DMR,
It is quite obvious from the varying draft findings by Lane Telecommunications and the comparing of the DMR (Canada) and Lane Australia final report dated 30 April 1995, that Lane was secretly allowed to do all of the assessment to my arbitration claim material as well as conduct all site visits to the Portland and Cape Bridgewater telephone exchanges and my business premises. In effect, the TIO, those who took orders from him and the arbitrator, sold us out.
The AUSTEL report confirms the SVT process was to give the arbitrator a guide as to whether all problems registered by the COT claimants had been located and rectified. The arbitrator was unable to hand down his final decision until Telstra demonstrated that it had carried out the specified SVTs and proved to AUSTEL’s satisfaction that both phone and fax services to various COTs’ businesses were up to the expected network standard.
Even though AUSTEL expressed serious concerns about the obvious deficiencies in the SVT run at my business, Telstra still used these test result to support its arbitration defence. On 16 November 1994, AUSTEL wrote to the Telstra arbitration liaison officer under the heading Service Verification Test Issues, outlining its concerns regarding the deficiencies in the testing process conducted at the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp (see Main Evidence File No/2). Telstra’s CCAS data for the day testing took place at my premises (29 September 1994) confirms not one of the incoming tests connected to any of my three business lines met the regulator’s mandatory requirements.
In the technical report Brian Hodge, BTech, MBA (B.C. Telecommunications) prepared on 27 July 2007, after viewing the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp SVT/CCAS data for these tests he states:
“It is my opinion that the reports submitted to Austel on this testing program was [sic] flawed, erroneous, fictitious, fraudulent & fabricated, as it is clear that no such testing has taken place as Telstra’s own call charge system DOES NOT record any such activities. Therefore the results are flawed or did not occur” (See Main Evidence File No 3)
In AUSTEL’s 16 November 1994 letter, it warned Telstra the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp SVT process was deficient. By the time I received this AUSTEL letter, in 2002, the statute of limitations allowing me to use this information in an appeal had expired. It is clear from Main Evidence File Nos/2 and 3 the SVT process at Cape Bridgewater Camp was not performed according to the regulator standards.
In response to AUSTEL’s letter noting Telstra’s SVT process was grossly deficient (see Main Evidence File No/2), the Telstra technician who performed the tests – and who was also part of the management team – replied. However, the defendant demanded the government not release any documents associated with the SVT process, without prior authorisation from them. In this 28 November 1994 letter to AUSTEL, Telstra states:
“As agreed at one of our recent meetings and as confirmed in your letter of 16th November 1994, attached please find the detailed Call Delivery Test information for the following customers. …
“This information is supplied to Austel on a strict Telecom-in-Confidence basis for use in their Service Verification Test Review only and not for any other purpose. The information is not to be disclosed to any third party without the prior written consent of Telecom.” (See Arbitrator File No/98)
By what legal authority could Telstra insist on confidentiality? The only legal authority behind such a request would be the Crimes Act 1914.
In October 2008 and May 2011, the Administrative Appeals Tribunals (AAT) heard my two Melbourne FOI matters. The government communications regulator (AUSTEL/ACMA) was the respondent on both occasions. I had still not received my promised discovery arbitration documents from 1994. Later changes to Australian law render this authority irrelevant, so how can Telstra require confidentiality from AUSTEL employees working for the government communications regulator? Arbitrator File No/110 is one of two SVT testing documents discussed in the 29 November 1994 letter from Telstra to AUSTEL. These two Call Charge Analyses System (CCAS) data printouts show there were not 20 mandatory SVT tests calls generated into each of my three service lines on 29 September 1994. That day, this particular Telstra engineer’s SVT monitoring equipment malfunctioned. The 60 test calls that were required to check faults on these three service lines, were not carried out: the lines were not held open for the 100-120 seconds required to fully test their functioning capabilities.
This same Telstra technician was named in the Senate Estimates Hansard of 24 June 1997 as advising Telstra employees that the five COT cases (including me) had to be “stopped at all costs” from proving the validity of our claims (see Open Letter File No/24). As part of my AAT submission, I provided both AAT and ACMA with a 156-page Statement of Facts and Contentions, plus a CD containing some 440 supporting exhibits. The ACMA chair and lawyers were given proof the author of the 28 November letter dictated what government regulators could or could not do during my government-endorsed arbitration, and that the writer swore, under oath (on 12 December 1994), the SVT tests exceeded AUSTEL’s specifications. The ACMA chair failed to act on this incriminating evidence. Arbitrator File No/110, Main Evidence File No 3 and the letter of 28 November 1994 (see Arbitrator File No/98) support my claims against certain public servants, employed by AUSTEL, who assisted Telstra to pervert the course of justice during my arbitration. Mr Friedman, senior AAT member, after hearing my claims, found them neither frivolous nor vexatious and supported my quest for justice.
Between 24 February 2008 and 14 January 2009, more than 15 letters addressed to various ACMA lawyers and the chair of ACMA show contradictions in Telstra’s SVT reports and its sworn witnesses’ statements. The documents provided during my arbitration process (which was known to be grossly deficient) were handed to both AAT and ACMA as part of the AAT submission. I also included proof that another set of tests – the Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) tests – submitted as evidence by Telstra during my arbitration – were also impracticable (see Telstra’s Falsified BCI Report masked identities and Main Evidence File No 3).
This matter was not investigated in conjunction with the deficient Cape Bridgewater SVT process. Two reports – one dated 10 November 1993, the other October 1994 – were both proved grossly inaccurate, yet the arbitrator relied solely on them and furthermore, accepted them as factual evidence. The senior executives of AUSTEL have been shown to be clearly negligent in their duties: this has had grave repercussions for all COT cases, particularly me. It has also had further repercussions for the general public and the integrity of the organisation they represent.
On 2 February 1995, one of AUSTEL’s bureaucrats attached COT Cases AUSTEL third quarterly report to his letter to the Hon Michael Lee, Minister for Communications and the Arts, which states:
“Service Verification Tests have been completed for seven customers. Reports have been completed and forwarded to six of the customers, and the seventh report is in preparation. All six of the telephone services subjected to the Services Verification Tests have met or exceeded the requirements established.” (See Open Letter File No/23)
It is important to consider this quarterly report in light of the letter AUSTEL wrote to Telstra’s arbitration liaison officer on 16 November 1994 (see Main Evidence File No/2) advising the SVTs conducted at the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp were deficient and asking Telstra what they intended to do regarding this deficiency in the testing procedure.
Corroded Copper Wire Network
In the world of political and media misinformation that is attached to the NBN, there is one important issue that hasn’t been fully addressed – Does Australia’s copper network meet the original mandatory government regulatory requirements? If this question is answered honestly, it would directly affect billions of dollars in Commonwealth spending. Why? Well, most of the current government’s NBN policy is based on using the existing copper network to get the internet to businesses and residences, a process dubbed Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN). The government has apparently chosen to go down this path because this how other countries upgraded from their copper networks and because the FTTN process is expected to provide the most productivity from the ailing networks before eventually switching to Fibre-to-the-Premises.
This situation however would have been quite different if the government regulator had ordered Telstra to purchase the correct Service Verification Testing (SVT) equipment needed to carry out the required COT arbitration testing (See Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report ‘unmasked identities’). Instead, Telstra left the choice of testing equipment to Bell Canada International Inc. and agreed to limit testing to calls to the main exchange, instead of the CAN – the copper wire between the exchange and the customer’s premises. Does this mean then that the Commonwealth government is actually responsible for what is now a major national telecommunication problem?
If Bell Canada had carried out the full end-to-end CAN testing, they would have certainly been able to warn Telstra and AUSTEL that an upgrade of the copper-wire network needed to begin immediately, in 1993. Just imagine where the telephone system would be in Australia today, if that had happened 23 years ago!
Although that didn’t happen, it could have because, early in 1994 (before the Casualties of Telstra arbitrations), I discovered Telstra had not told Bell Canada that the unmanned Bridgewater exchange, which all calls were routed through, could not handle the testing equipment BCI claimed to have used to generate the calls. If Bell Canada had known what that unmanned exchange could handle, then they may well have discovered it was the unmanned exchange’s corroding copper-wire network that was partly responsible for the Recorded Voice Message, “The number you are ringing is not connected,” that was ruining my business. That discovery might have led Bell Canada to realise Telstra was using them to cover-up how bad the rural network actually was, right around Australia.
We know Telstra deliberately misled the Senate estimates committee in September 1997 by providing false information in response to questions on notice and that the same thing happened again in October 1997. Since the Senate committee asked their questions on notice, they would have been compelled to advise the government Telstra, at the very least, had conjured up their Cape Bridgewater testing results. This major exposé would have led to more investigations and those investigations would surely have found that, in 1993, although the government ordered testing of the COT cases’ exchanges, this so-called testing was nothing but a total scam and that would have meant that the upgrading of Telstra’s rural network could have commenced sometime in 1997.
Australia is now footing an expense that would have cost much less (probably by billions) than what it now costs, 23-odd years later, all because of the misleading and deceptive advice that Telstra gave the Senate estimates committee hearing in October 1997.
Service Verification Test Part-One
Any reasonable-minded commercial assessor, after seeing photos similar to the one shown or written advice from Telstra’s technical field staff explaining how bad the copper wire network was, would have demanded Telstra supply the four COT cases with evidence: evidence the Commonwealth Ombudsman, on 20 January and 24 March 1994 (see Bad-Bureaucrats-File-No/20), also demanded Telstra address regarding the four COT cases being denied access to documents supporting their claims. Had the assessor been truly independent, he would not have moved forward and/or allowed the claimants to abandon their assessment process until the four claimants received the requested evidence. As our webpage absentjustice shows, the arbitrator did not seek those documents through the commercial assessment process in order for the four claimants to see whether they had enough documented evidence to proceed with arbitration. The Front Page of absentjustice.com shows both Senator Ron Boswell, on 20 September 1995, and Senator Alan Eggleston, on 23 March 1999, advised the Senate the COTs were forced into arbitration without the necessary documents to support their claims. With this admission by two senators, why do these COT cases’ claims remain unresolved?
Twenty Years Later
On 29 January 2014, CEPU representatives publicly showed similar photos to the one opposite demonstrating problems with the Telstra copper network, including some of the innovative solutions technicians had used.
During the lock-up meeting at AUSTEL’s Queens Road office, Melbourne mentioned above, we discussed the aging network and alerted AUSTEL that in our opinion would continue to affect customers if Telstra did NOT carrier out proper CAN maintenance. Neither the chair nor the general manager of consumer affairs were shocked at the Freedom of Information documents we produced at this meeting showing Telstra had full knowledge it had major network problems in the customer access network similar to the one shown by the CEPU representatives. AUSTEL changed the subject and, in a roundabout way, the general manager of consumer affairs advised us the documents I had shown AUSTEL concerning the ongoing 008/1800/freecall problems were even worse than the estimated more than 120,000 COT-type complaints AUSTEL originally recorded. Unfortunately, during our arbitrations, as the conjured BCI and SVT tests showed our phone lines were now ‘fixed’, the arbitrator ignored our documentation.
It is also important to link how AUSTEL withheld its findings from the Hon Michael Lee MP, on 2 February 1995, regarding the deficient SVT conducted at my business with the way they also withheld information from the same minister regarding adverse findings concerning my business losses (see Main Evidence File No 15).
Everyone has, at some time, reached a recorded voice announcement (known within the industry as an RVA):
‘The number you have called is not connected or has been changed. Please check the number before calling again. You have not been charged for this call.’
This incorrect and misleading message was the RVA people most frequently reached when trying to ring my camp. While Telstra never acknowledged this, I discovered much later, among a multitude of FOI documents I received in 1994, a copy of a Telstra internal memo confirming, “this message tends to give the caller the impression that the business they are calling has ceased trading, and they should try another trader”.
Another Telstra document referred to the need for “a very basic review of all our RVA messages and how they are applied … I am sure when we start to scratch around we will find a host of network circumstances where inappropriate RVAs are going to line”.
It seems the ‘not connected’ RVA came on whenever the lines in or out of Cape Bridgewater were congested, which, given how few lines there were, was often.
For a newly established business like ours, this was a major disaster, but despite the memo’s acknowledgement that such serious faults existed, Telstra never admitted the existence of a fault in those first years. And, with my continued complaints, I was treated increasingly as a nuisance caller. This was rural Australia, and I was supposed to put up with a poor phone service – not that anyone in Telstra admitted that it was poor service. In most cases, ‘No fault found’ was the finding by technicians and linesmen.
On the 6 January 2003, the Hon David Hawker MP wrote to me noting:
“Thank you for your correspondence received throughout December, 2002. Copies will be forwarded to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, along with the videotape, “Phone Wiring Details at Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp.”
Did the government bureaucrats who received this video from Mr Hawker MP, pass it onto the Hon Senator Richard Alston, the then Minister of Communications and Information Technology? I know no one bothered to demand answers from Telstra as to why they installed this wiring is such a shallow trench with connecting cables loose in the conjunction box and with moisture seeping in and damaging the whole wiring system – the very wiring system Telstra rewired at the business in November/December 2002, six years after my arbitration failed to investigate my ongoing complaints of all three service lines locking up on a regular bases. No one gave a damn, from the TIO and arbitrator to the resource unit regarding how my business would survive once my arbitration was declared over. The poor quality CAN and copper wire connected to my premises stayed in place until 2002 as a direct result of Telstra’s lies under oath during the COT arbitrations: lies that were covered up by bad bureaucrats (at least two of whom were then appointed as ministers by the Liberal government).
On 28 January 2003, a letter from TIO officer Gillian McKenzie to Telstra states:
“Mr & Mrs Lewis claim in their correspondence attached:
That they purchased the Cape Bridgewater Coastal Camp in December 2001, but since that time have experienced a number of issues in relation to their telephone service, many of which remain unresolved.
That a Telstra technician ‘Mr Tony Watson’ is currently assigned to his case, but appears unwilling to discuss the issues with Mr Lewis due to his contact with the previous camp owner, Mr Alan Smith.” (See Home-Page File No/76 and D-Lewis File 1-I)
Was there a more sinister motive involved in Telstra’s technician refusing to help Darren Lewis with the ongoing phone/fax problems that, nine years before, Telstra and the arbitrator assigned to my case failed to investigate transparently? Why was this Telstra technician still holding a grudge against me in 2002/3 because of something my 1994/95 arbitration should have addressed – i.e., the ongoing phone and facsimile problems that this same Telstra technician was now refusing to help Mr Lewis with, nine years later?
Darren Lewis was so angry with this Telstra employee that he took a number of photos of the actual wiring that ran from Telstra’s pit to his residence and his office (the same office that was mine from 1988).
As part of his plans to renovate the house, Mr Lewis had begun to prepare for a heating system to be installed under the house but, in the process, as he sunk his shovel into a water-soaked area, he accidentally cut into a Telstra cable that was only buried half a shovel deep. Water from an overflow downpipe from the main accommodation block had been running off and collecting over the Telstra cabling that had obviously not been buried deep enough (see the following photos taken by Mr Lewis at the time).
According to the AUSTEL’s records, the Telstra cable was installed in 1991 and, as this photo below shows, it was this faulty installation that led to the cable itself becoming waterlogged. Yet, on 6 April 1995, during my arbitration, when I begged Telstra and the arbitration’s so-called independent technical consultants to run a series of tests to all three of my service lines and inspect the Telstra pit outside the office to ensure that the Customer Access Network (CAN) was up to the proper network standard, my request was refused outright.
Mr Lewis took 22 photos that day, showing just how poor Telstra’s workmanship was when the cable was installed. The open pipe was full of water and water had run down the pipe to the u-bend. After Telstra installed new cabling, Darren advised the TIO, the number of incoming calls increased by more than 100 per cent: this is confirmed by CCAS data.
So what was my arbitration about? Shouldn’t the TIO and the technical consultants he appointed have investigated why I was still registering ongoing telephone problems? It certainly appears the real reason for the way the arbitration was run was to ensure that the Telstra Corporation could continue to conceal all the problems created by their ailing copper wire network, and really, all the arbitrator had to do was grant us an award to compensate us and cover up the rest, exactly as it has been ever since, for the past 20-plus years.
On 1 September 2004, Darren Lewis’ (who purchased my holiday camp in December 2001) wrote to our local MP, David Hawker, stating:
“I must also reiterate my thanks for the pressure you put on Telstra in late 2002 – I believed it was this that finally forced them to re-wire the kiosk at the camp and disconnect the faulty telephone alarm bell which local Telstra employees believed could have been causing some of the problems with incoming calls. Although the incoming calls increased dramatically one the re-wiring had been done, the trauma of the first year we were here has not gone away.”
Telstra waited until 10 months after I had sold the business before they transparently investigated the ongoing telephone and faxing problems I raised during my actual arbitration and for six years after it was declared over. If this isn’t discrimination of the worst possible kind, then what is? Did Telstra make a deal with the arbitrator to ensure that he would only investigate old, historic, anecdotal phone and faxing faults and totally ignore any ongoing problems in the rural network that, if they were proved to exist, would open the floodgates and allow other rural customers to sue Telstra?
When I showed the Hon David Hawker MP that the arbitrator only addressed old issues and none of the issues that continued to affect other Cape Bridgewater customers and me, he arranged a meeting in Parliament House, in Canberra, with Senator Alston, the then-Minister for Communications. The senator’s staff agreed to investigate a 60-plus page report (and attachments) that I provided to them. This report was eventually returned to me – without the attachments – but with a covering letter from a Paul Fletcher, refusing to address the report at all. This bureaucrat is now the Hon Senator Paul Fletcher who, from 2014 to 2016, has been assisting the present Prime Minister of Australia with the problems associated with Telstra’s ailing copper wire network that has been the root cause of the slow rollout of the NBN.
On 26 May 2019, Paul Fletcher became Australia’s Minister for Communications and the Arts (see https://www.paulfletcher.com.au/media-releases/media-release-fletcher-deeply-honoured-to-be-appointed-minister-for-communications a portfolio he is professionally equipped to handle.
As the new Minister for Communications, I can only hope The Hon Paul Fletcher will now look at the evidence I provided Senator Alston in September 1995, and the more updated version of June 1996 and the more recent information now exposed on absentjustice.com, especially as numerous senators found our COT arbitrations were not conducted lawfully.
If the TIO had allowed his appointed arbitration technical consultants to properly investigate the COT cases, as they should have, then that corroded copper wire network would have been uncovered and investigated in 1994, instead of in 2012, and the current Telstra shareholders would not be left picking up the tab. No wonder the Hon David Hawker was livid when he discovered that Darren Lewis was still having phone problems in November 2006, as our Main Evidence File No 3 shows.
I provided two photos Darren Lewis took to Senator Len Harris, showing him how deep the cabling was running: 50 meters along a trench less than half a shovel deep.
After seeing these photos, I employed a professional video production company to produce a video showing how the actual wall sockets looked when the casing was removed. I still have copies of that video but, in April 2016, when we tried to transfer it to a CD, we discovered that the quality was not good enough for use on the internet.
Back in December 2002, when the video was produced by Noel Waugh (Video Production of Portland), we sent a copy to the office of the then-Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston. Like most bureaucrats working in government departments, those who worked in Senator Alston’s office did not understand the relevance of the video in relation to my claims of ongoing problems and nor did they understand it showed how incompetent some Telstra employees were, particularly in rural Australia. It was, after all, Telstra’s incompetence, coupled with the fact that no one in Telstra really cared about the suffering of telephone customers, especially those with telephone-dependent businesses, that ruined the lives of so many small business operators.
If the arbitrator had conducted my arbitration according to the ambit of the Commercial Arbitration Act 1984 and investigated ALL of my ongoing telephone and faxing claim documents, then Darren and Jenny Lewis (as new owners of my business) would not have suffered. I was forced to sell my business because the TIO and Telstra did not transparently investigate my claims. Both the TIO and Telstra failed to divulge their investigation conducted on 14 January 1998, after my arbitration, showing it was apparent the phone problems would indeed continue.
If the TIO did carry out an in-house investigation into my claims some COT faxes were being illegally intercepted, but came to the conclusion that those faxes did not arrive because they were lost as a direct result of faults in the network – the very network under investigation by the arbitrator – it was deplorable for the TIO to not respond to my interception claims. Deplorable because, either way, regardless of whether missing documents were intercepted and not forwarded on or were lost because of faults in the network, ultimately certain claim documents of relevance to the COT claims were NOT assessed by the arbitration process as the Federal Labor Government when they endorsed our arbitrations.
On 4 September 2006, Darren Lewis provided the Hon Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, with a two-page statutory declaration noting:
“Letters from us to our local Federal Member of Parliament, the Hon David Hawker, Speaker in the House of Representatives, led to Telstra visiting our business to investigate these continuing problems.
“After Telstra rewired the business including disconnecting a Telstra installed faulty phone alarm bell, we were informed Telstra had found other problems and believed who ever had installed the wiring had done an unprofessional job.
“Internal Telstra documentation provided to me by Allan Smith confirmed Telstra themselves had done the wiring.
“Jenny and I noticed that although our incoming-call rate had more than doubled once this wiring had taken place Telstra was still unable to provide a satisfactory reason as to why we were still having problems. …
“The technicians then in a hookup consultation with outside office guru’s [sic] did a fault graph reading on our 55 267267 line with the outcome that their office technical staff stated words to the affect [sic] the reading was impossible (couldn’t be correct). It was then that the local technician became quite annoyed when the technical guru insinuated that the equipment the local tech was using must be faulty. The local tech then informed the technical guru that there was nothing wrong with the equipment at all.” (See Main Evidence File No 13)
Most, if not all, of the COT cases suffered from sleep disorders and stress for years as a result of their battles, as Chapter One in Arbitrator Part One shows. On 23 February 2007, after Darren Lewis become suicidal following a confrontation with Telstra over ongoing telephone problems at the camp, Ms Howard, a Portland psychologist, visited my Cape Bridgewater residence. She was struggling to understand what Darren was talking about and why he felt suicidal. I provided her with documents supporting Darren’s valid claims about Telstra’s defective services, adding that I was sorry that Darren had ended up this way.
I provided Ms Howard with a letter dated 21 March 1999 and addressed to the Casualties of Telstra, C/- The Small Business Show, Channel Nine. This letter suggests others who ran afoul of Telstra had suicided:
“I watched your show on Sunday morning carrying the piece on Telstra. I was interested to hear of Telstra’s lies under oath, destruction of evidence, etc, etc.
“I started a lawsuit 2½ years ago against Telstra for breach of contract during their cable TV rollout. They have placed every obstacle in our way and dragged the case out to try to bleed us dry. They sent dozens of contracting companies such as mine to the wall by manipulating markets and breaching contracts. Only 3 companies have had the resources to fight them. Unfortunately two company owners have allegedly committed suicide due to the loss of their homes and families as a consequence of Telstra’s actions, although this would be difficult to prove.
“As a direct consequence I have lost my home, separated from my wife, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a twenty year old business and fought a very dirty legal battle. My other partners have had to sell or re mortgage homes and one has retired without any of the security he should have had from ownng [sic] a business for over twenty years.” (See Home Evidence File No/7)
I also provided another letter received by me, dated 8 November 2002, from a man in South Australia, stating:
“I am writing to you following viewing the Channel 9 Sunday Program on 3/11/02. After viewing the Sunday program, I realised the similarities you [sic] business and others had with Telstra some ten years ago with the similarities our building business had, when we lived at Bridgewater. …
“During this period of time I was on a call talking to a councilor [sic]. She believed that the conversation we were having was being bugged, or listened into, and we immediately ceased the call. …
“Our phone problem had such a negative effect on our building business over a period of time that our work dried up and or [sic] business shut down.” (See Home Evidence File No/15)
I believe Darren first became concerned about the possibility that his phone conversations also may have been illegally listened to when he discovered my accreditation file in the camp office, where I had inadvertently left it when handing the camp over to Darren. This file included Australian Federal Police/Telstra intercept documents, including one dated 14 April 1994 from Telstra to the AFP, notifying them that Telstra had installed equipment in the Portland exchange so that a bell would ring whenever I received an incoming telephone call, enabling the person on duty to listen in on those conversations. After reading the letters I supplied, letters Ms Howard drew up a Risk Management Plan for Darren to use (AS 629), including a warning that, if Darren felt suicidal again, he should not only share those thoughts with his wife but also with me as well as with Portland Health.
And now, here was Telstra in 2002/2003 – nine years after my arbitration process – still having not fixed my original telephone problems and making sure that the Lewis’ ongoing telephone problems were also not transparently investigated because to do so would prove just how delusive and undemocratic my arbitration process was. The Lewises’ lives, like mine and my partner’s, were insignificant as long as Telstra’s network deception remained protected … at all costs.
A number of politicians from both sides of the house, I am sure, are aware Absent Justice My Story is not a site that attacks the government with vexatious accusations or malice. The website was set up in January 2015, 20 years after I tried every conceivable way to prove my claims: that NONE of my ongoing billing faults, raised with the government in 1993 and 1994 by my then Federal Member of Parliament the Hon David Hawker MP and Shadow Minister for Communications the Hon Richard Alston, were addressed during my government-endorsed arbitration of 1994. I have always maintained, as have many government ministers from both sides of the House, that the first four COT case arbitrations were facilitated in order to fix the COT cases’ telephone problems, as well as to award damages if the claimant proved his claims. The arbitrator Dr Hughes found Telstra was indeed deficient in its supply of a phone service for the whole period of my claim.
However, TIO records show it was warned by AUSTEL, on 3 October 1995 (five months after Dr Hughes brought down his award), that NONE of my ongoing billing telephone faults raised in my arbitration were investigated or addressed during my arbitration. The TIO (the administrator of my arbitration) did nothing to transparently investigate why the arbitration process did not address these still-ongoing billing problems, even after being further advised, on 15 November 1995, by the TIO arbitration project manager John Rundell that NONE of my arbitration billing faults were addressed by the arbitrator.
FOI folio I00271 and I00265
I use the two following Telstra FOI documents, folio I00271 and I00265 (see Our Saga File N0 3-A to 3-C) as testament that the TIO knew my ongoing billing faults continued for years after my arbitration; I can provide, on request, government records showing the TIO misled and deceived government ministers, over many years, concerning the validity of my claim. Telstra FOI document folio I00271 (File N0 3-A), dated 24 October 2002 has been used here to support that the TIO was fully aware of the ongoing telephone and faxing problems being experienced by Darren and Jenny Lewis after they purchased my business. This document folio I00271 states:
“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 [blank-blank] the previous account holder for this service in which similar issues were raised.”
The blanking out of my name does not hide the fact that I was the previous account holder of that telephone service.
The second Telstra FOI folio, I00265 (File N0 3-B), dated 24 October 2002, states:
“David Hawker MP has written to Senator Alston on 10 October and included a 3 October letter from Darren and Jenny Lewis. This 3 October letter has been cc’d to the TIO but doesn’t seem to have made its way into Telstra yet. Will follow in Cicero and respond accordingly. Hopefully, the TIO will become involved and that will take the Minister and Member out of the equation.”
I highlight FOI folio I00265, because it is a good example of how valid claims can so easily be hidden from any Minister in government if the TIO becomes involved. It is clear from the above statement that these ongoing faults at Darren and Jenny Lewis’ business would remain hidden if the then Minister (which was then Senator Richard Alston) and the Member (which was The Hon David Hawker were kept “out of the equation.”
Numerous other documents on my website clearly show other government Ministers apart from The Hon Senator Richard Alston and The Hon David Hawker MP have been mislead and deceived over the validity of my claims that my arbitration did not address my ongoing telephone and faxing problems that in the end, left me little option but to sell my holiday camp.
I believe that Darren first became concerned about the possibility that his phone conversations also may have been illegally listened to when he discovered my accreditation file in the camp office, where I had inadvertently left it when handing the Camp over to Darren. This file included Australian Federal Police/Telstra intercept documents, including one dated 14 April 1994 from Telstra to the AFP, notifying them that Telstra had installed equipment in the Portland exchange so that a bell would ring whenever I received an incoming telephone call, so that the person on duty could then listen in on those conversations. I provided this Risk Management Plan (exhibit AS 629) to the Australian Government as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal during my 2008 Freedom of Information hearing – No V2008/1836.
And, in 2008, Darren Lewis wrote to the Federal Magistrates Court stating:
“I was advised by Ms McCormick that the Federal Magistrates Court had only received on 5th December 2008 an affidavit prepared by Alan Smith dated 2 December 2008. PLEASE NOTE: I originally enclosed with Alan Smith’s affidavit in the (envelope) overnight mail the following documents:
- Two 29 page transparent s/comb bound report titled SVT & BCI – Federal Magistrates Court File No (P) MLG1229/2008 prepared by Alan Smith in support of my claims that I had inherited the ongoing telephone problems and faults when I purchased the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp
- Two s/comb transparent bound documents titled Exhibits 1 to 34
- Two s/comb transparent bound documents titled Exhibits 35 to 71 (the attached 71 Exhibits was enclosed in support of Alan Smith’s 29 page report);
- Three CD Disks which incorporated all of the submitted material.
“On learning from Ms McCormick that the information discussed above in points 1 to 4 had not been received by the Federal Magistrates Court I again had a stress attack seizure, a problem I have been suffering with for quite some time due to the predicament I now find myself in and the disbelief that once again my mail has been intercepted. I have attached herewith dated 3rd December 2008, a copy of the Australia Post overnight mail receipt docket numbers SV0750627 and SV0750626 confirming the total cost to send the above aforementioned information was $21.80. I am sure Australia Post would confirm that a large amount of documents would have been enclosed in these two envelopes when they left Portland.” (See My Story Evidence File 12-A to 12-B)
Australia Post will not charge any postage fee for an overnight parcel unless they stamp and retain it. Since neither of these parcels arrived at their proper destination with all of the information originally enclosed, those documents must, therefore, have been ‘lost’ between the Portland Post Office and the Magistrates Court.
As I have reported throughout this webpage numerous Telstra COT related arbitration documents (like those lost on route to the Federal Magistrates Court in December 2008) were also lost during 1994/95 on route to the arbitrator hearing my case.
As Darren’s letter shows, I helped him prepare his bankruptcy appeal against the Australian Taxation Office (for back taxes) using my own evidence that the Telstra Corporation, knowingly submitted two false and fundamentally flawed Cape Bridgewater reports to the arbitrator during my arbitration, to deliberately mislead the arbitrator into believing that there were no more ongoing phone problems affecting my business.
Bankrupt in 2009
Darren Lewis was walked off the property by receivers, bankrupt, in August 2008.
After viewing the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp (SVT) CCAS data dated 29 September 1994 (see Arbitrator File No/110), Brian Hodge (B Tech, MBA, B.C. Telecommunications), on 27 July 2007, prepared a report. On page 22, he states:
“It is my opinion that the reports submitted to Austel on this testing program was [sic] flawed, erroneous, fictitious, fraudulent & fabricated, as it is clear that no such testing has taken place as Telstra’s own call charge system DOES NOT record any such activities. Therefore the results are flawed or did not occur.” (See Main Evidence File No 3)
Mr Hodges concluded Telstra fabricated their reports about the many ongoing telephone problems still affecting the holiday camp CAN as late as November 2006. Many of these problems were caused by moisture affecting both the copper-wire and optical fibre joints in the CAN. These problems were so bad that, in late 2006, Telstra actually had to disconnect the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp from the fibre network and return it back to the already-corroded copper-wire network (see Open Letter File No/23).
In my 157-page Statement of Facts and Contentions dated 26 July 2008, which I provided to Mr Friedman and ACMA, I clearly defined how, for reasons unknown, AUSTEL, and later the ACA and ACMA, did not conduct themselves in a properly transparent manner. This behaviour included allowing Telstra to support their arbitration defence by using Cape Bridgewater test results that AUSTEL/ACA/ACMA all knew were false – long before they used them. It is also clear from the same Statement of Facts and Contentions that I highlighted Telstra’s use of the sanitised April 1994 AUSTEL Report instead of the later, and more adverse, AUSTEL findings (against Telstra) that eventually resulted from AUSTEL’s full investigation into my matters, and that I explained how this severely disadvantaged my March/April 2006 submission to the Department of Communications, Information Technology, and the Arts. The financial cost of preparing that 2006 submission came to more than $20,000, which was entirely a waste of money, as I did not receive a copy of AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings until November 2007. If I had received those findings before the DCITA government-assessment process, I would have been able to prove my claim.
When AUSTEL provided a copy of its Adverse Findings to Telstra, only, in March 1994, that not only provided Telstra with valuable assistance during their defence of my 1994/95 arbitration, it also provided assistance to Telstra in 2006, when the government could only assess my claims based on the sanitised AUSTEL report rather than AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings report.
Transcripts from my second Administrative Appeal Tribunal (AAT) hearing of 26 May 2011, respondents Australia Communications Media Authority/ACMA (No 2010/4634), show I maintained my Freedom of Information applications to ACMA should be provided free of charge, in the public interest, including all of the requested information both Telstra and AUSTEL withheld during my government-endorsed arbitration process. Senior AAT member Mr G D Friedman considered this AAT hearing and stated:
“Mr Smith still believes that there are many unanswered questions by the regulatory authorities or by Telstra that he wishes to pursue and he believes these documents will show that his unhappiness with the way he has been treated personally also will flow to other areas such as it will expose the practices by Telstra and regulatory bodies which affects not only him but other people throughout Australia.
“Mr Smith said today that he had concerns about the equipment used in cabling done at Cape Bridgewater back in the 1990s. He said that it should – the equipment or some of the equipment should have a life of up to 40 years but, in fact, because of the terrain and the wet surfaces and other things down there the wrong equipment was used.”
During this second AAT hearing in May 2011, I again raised the telephone problems that had affected my business from before my arbitration, stressing that the arbitrator had failed to investigate or address most of those problems, and therefore allowed them to continue for a further 11 years after the end of the arbitration. Since the AAT hearings, and as a result of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, which began in mid-2011 and is still continuing today, numerous faults, just like those that I raised during my arbitration and both AAT hearings, have been found; this can be confirmed by a simple internet search for “Australia NBN”.
Had the government and arbitrator ensured the claimant’s evidence was not tampered with and altered to suit Telstra’s defence, the then-exposed ailing copper-wire network could have been fixed 20 years ago. These adverse findings against Telstra’s network would certainly have had to be included in the Telstra privatisation prospectus, had they been exposed during the arbitration process.
One of the documents I provided to the AAT is a Telstra FOI (folio A00253) dated 16 September 1993 and titled Fibre Degradation. It states:
“Problems were experienced in the Mackay to Rockhampton leg of the optical fibre network in December ’93. Similar problems were found in the Katherine to Tenant Creek part of the network in April this year. The probable cause of the problem was only identified in late July, early August. In Telecom’s opinion the problem is due to an aculeate coating (CPC3) used on optical fibre supplied by Corning Inc (US). Optical fibre cable is supposed to have a 40 year workable life. If the MacKay & Katherine experience are [sic] repeated elsewhere in the network, in the northern part of Australia, the network is likely to develop attenuation problems within 2 or 3 years of installation. The network will have major QOS problems whilst the CPC3 delaminates from the optical fibre. There are no firm estimates on how long this may take. …
“Existing stocks of Corning cable will be used in low risk / low volume areas.” (See Bad Bureaucrats File No/16)
There are many ongoing issues with the Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout. Matthew Knott’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald, on 28 May 2016, states:
“Opposition Leader Bill Shorten accused the Turnbull government – through the NBN – of muzzling whistleblowers and limiting the public’s right to know about the progress of one of the biggest infrastructure projects in Australian history.”
Mr Knott also quotes Ziggy Switkowski, (Telstra’s ex-CEO) now chair of the NBN rollout, calling the whistleblowers, who exposed these issues, thieves. See following http://link > www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016/ziggy-switkowski-nbn-leakers-were-thieves-not-whistleblowers-20160527
As a victim of Telstra’s unlawful conduct during my arbitration, I ask Mr Switkowski if, when he recently spoke against whistleblowers criticising the ongoing problems of the NBN rollout, he recalled what happened in 1994? As Open Letter File No/36, /File No/37 and File No/38 show, in 1994, Telstra fabricated a report to stop an arbitration process from investigating my claims that the telephone problems, which brought me to arbitration with Telstra, were still affecting the viability of my business. The many download documents now available on our website absentjustice.com confirm many of my registered telephone problems continued for years after my arbitration.
The marked Telstra FOI documents folio A64535 to A64562 (see Tampering With Evidence File No/5), are clear evidence that Telstra did two separate TF200 tests on my collected phone, two weeks apart. FOI folio A64535 confirms, with this handwritten Telstra laboratory file note dated 26 May 1994, that when wet beer was poured into a TF200 phone the wet substance dried up within 48 hours. The air vents within the phone itself allowed for the beer to escape. In other words, how could my TF200, collected on 27 April 1994, have been wet inside the phone on 10 May 1994 when it was tested at Telstra’s laboratories?
This sort of tampering with evidence, after a claimant has provided it to an arbitration process, including (again, in my case) changing that evidence into a different format, must really be one of the worst crimes a defendant (in this case, the Telstra corporation) could commit against an Australian citizen. So why, when evidence of this tampering was provided – 18 years ago to John Pinnock, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, The Hon Tony Staley, chair of the TIO counsel, David Hoare, chair of the Telstra board and Telstra’s then-CEO Ziggy Switkowski, AO, was that evidence not investigated immediately? The following nonfeasance link > http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/nonfeasance suggests Ziggy Switkowski and the new Telstra CEO Andrew Penn and chair John Mullins have a moral and legal obligation to investigate the criminal misconduct committed by previous employees during my government-endorsed arbitration.
How can Ziggy Switkowski call a whistleblower a thief when he has been covering up Telstra’s submission of known false information into arbitration in order to stop a proper investigation into the COT cases complaints (see Tampering With Evidence – Open Letter File Nos/36, 37 and File No/38? I ask Mr Switkowski if, when he recently spoke against whistleblowers criticising the ongoing problems of the NBN rollout, he recalled what he knew concerning the state of the ageing Telstra copper-wire network and that it was concealed when the COT cases, with businesses so severely affected they were forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in arbitration fees in attempts to have the faults rectified in order to operate their telephone-dependent businesses?
In 2018, the United Kingdom Government appears to have reached the only real option left open to them concerning their old corroded ailing copper-wire network in order to improve rural broadband speeds (see https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/17/copper-internet-cables-will-switched-improve-broadband).
To be continued: