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Open letter to Prime Minister

 

Absent Justice - My Story - Parliament House Canberra

 

Dear Prime Minster

I am making this public comment regarding the government's 25 June 2023 media release that they are providing extra powers to ACMA. The content of this Home Page letter and that on this website absentjustice.com shows I have good reason to be concerned by this extra power being given to the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA.

In January 2018 my partner, Cathy, was with me for my first appointment with our local doctor after I had survived a heart attack and double by-pass surgery.  Although the doctor was very sympathetic to my situation (and he knows my COT story) he couldn’t help but ask:  “Why am I not surprised?”

As I write this Open Letter it is now July 2023 and still, every time I go back to finalise various parts of my website at absentjustice.com, and I have to re-read all the complex details that make up the whole, true, terrible story, my anxiety levels instantly begin to rise alarmingly. The situation gets worse though because I also find I am just stuck; I seem to be unable to find the right words to finish off this dreadful story.  It seems that, no matter what I do, I just can’t find a way to properly explain this disaster that we have all struggled with for so many years. One part of the problem is, of course, that none of the COT cases – all honest Australian citizens – should ever have been forced into a situation that would eventually leave us all dealing with so many still-unaddressed crimes; crimes that were committed against us while we were officially part of a government-endorsed, legal, arbitration process.  There are two parts to this problem for the COTs, though: to begin with, there are those who are now identified on the website and below, who worked with Telstra to carry out those still-unaddressed crimes, and then there is Telstra, an organisation with so much power that they could stop any authorities (including government authorities) from investigating any of those crimes as my story so clearly shows.

It is important to stress here that every single detail recorded on this website is not only true but is also supported by irrefutable evidence that can now be readily accessed directly from the website.  It is also important to note that, as the result of a recent discussion with other members of the COT group (even though two of them are very sick at the moment) we decided that, considering the stress that we are all still suffering, it would be better to release our stories to the public just as they are on the website now, even if this is not exactly how we had hoped to present them when we began to put the website together.

Today's letter is dated 3 July 2023.

I have written to every conceivable government agency in Australia see Chapter 1 - The first Remedy pursued in November 1993  to Chapter 12 - The twelfth remedy pursued because of the seriousness of what transpired prior to, during and after the Casualties of Telstra arbitrations.

Instead of the government communications regulator remaining independent of Telstra they shared evidence with Telstra (the defendants) that grossly affected the outcome of those arbitrations AUSTEL (now ACMA) had facilitated. Some, but not all, of the information that should have remained natural, was also concealed by government bureaucrats from the Canberra office of the Minister for Communications during the 1994 to 1998 arbitrations and the Senators Helen Coonan and Barnaby Joyce’s Department of Communications Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) reassessment of the COT arbitration in 2006 (see Chapter 8 - The eighth remedy pursued)

As shown on this website some of the faxed claim information by the COT Cases, who were officially advised in writing would be viewed and assessed by the government-appointed assessors, was not assessed at all. In fact, in my case, my secretary had a security fax receipt system attached to her fax line that showed when her faxes were received and read. Showed on two occasions claim documents sent to the DCITA assessors were not opened or read and were deleted from the designated government Fax service lines fifteen months after the conclusion of the DCITA assessment process. 

I believe even now, in 2023, if The Hon. Anthony Albanese, who inherited the very issues now being raised in this open letter, were to appoint a mutually agreed lawyer, retired judge and meet with me and were to listen to what I have experienced when dealing with government bureaucrats from the DCITA, AUSTEL, then the ACA and now ACMA, that professional person would see I am not a senile man of 79 years. 

While I favour the new laws the current government proposes to bring in to protect Australians from misinformation being exposed on the web, empowering just one body, such as ACMA, as the policeman needs to be carefully considered.  Should there be a second policeman watching the first?

The evidence on this website absentjustice.com which is available for downloading purposes shows I have every good reason to be concerned in trusting ACMA to operate on their own in such an important role. 

Some background information 

Transcripts from my Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) hearing (respondents ACMA) on 3 October 2008 (No V2008/1836) show I maintained my Freedom of Information applications to ACMA (should be provided free of charge, in the public interest, because Telstra and AUSTEL (now ACMA) were still withholding from me Ericsson AXE data in 2008, [Judge] Mr G D Friedman, when telling ACMA they should provide me with the documents I am pursuing as a matter of fairness, considering the government documents promised me would be provided to me as part of my arbitration process. On bringing down his findings, Mr Friedman told me in an open court in full view of two government ACMA lawyers.

“Let me just say, I don’t consider you, personally, to be frivolous or vexatious – far from it. 

“I suppose all that remains for me to say, Mr Smith, is that you obviously are very tenacious and persistent in pursuing the – not this matter before me, but the whole – the whole question of what you see as a grave injustice, and I can only applaud people who have persistence and the determination to see things through when they believe it’s important enough.”

In my second Administrative Appeals Tribunal hearing on 26 May 2011 (No 2010/4634) show I maintained my Freedom of Information applications to ACMA (the respondants in that heating) that I should be provided free of charge, in the public interest, all of the requested information both Telstra and AUSTEL originally withheld during my government-endorsed arbitration process. Senior AAT member Mr G D Friedman also considered this AAT hearing and it is now apparent that Mr Friedman was unaware that the government solicitors (AGS) and ACMA based their defence of my claims on the inaccurate DCITA COT archival documents, including the sanitised public AUSTEL COT report released in April 1994. Neither document includes the true (and very adverse) findings that AUSTEL had originally reached in relation to Telstra’s dealings with me (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings).

It is important to note that during this second AAT hearing (No 2010/4634), Mr Friedman (Judge) hearing my case 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 and over more that 120,000 other Telstra customers that AUSTEL (now ACMA) mislead the Labor governemnt about in April 1994. This collusion with Telstra by AUSTEL (now ACMA) effectively allowed these hidden unaddressed telephone faults and problems to continue for a further 11 years after the end of the COT arbitrations. Since that second AAT hearing, and as a result of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout, which began in mid-2011 and continued for a further seven or more years, just like those that I raised during my 1994 arbitration.

One of the documents I provided both the arbitrator in 1994 and the AAT in 2008 and again in 2011 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)

Were the citizens of Australia entitled to be advised by the Australian Communications Regulator AUSTEL (now ACMA), before it sold off the Telstra network, that, e.g., the aforementioned optical fibre with CPC3 coating, supplied to Telecom/Telstra by Corning Inc (USA), was installed in their area? How many people in Australia have been forced to live with a subpar phone system, i.e., a known poor optical fibre that Telstra should NEVER have installed? How many businesses have gone up against the wall due to Telstra’s negligent conduct of knowingly laying their existing stocks of Corning cable in locations that Telstra believed were low risk/low volume areas?

Chapters one to three in our Tampering With Evidence page show Telstra was also prepared to re-deplore some 450,000 faulty TF200 telephones to locations where Telstra thought moisture was non-existent. The decision-makers regarding where Telstra installed these moisture-prone phones were certainly not trained in meteorology. I doubt that Telstra or the government advised these TF200 customers when Telstra was sold off, that if they were experiencing phone problems that this was no longer Telstra’s problem or the government’s.

Five months after the conclusion of my arbitration, a representative of AUSTEL (now ACMA), Darren Kearney, visited my business on 19 December 1995, telling me AUSTEL/ACMA would investigate this unaddressed moisture issue as part of their billing investigation into my claims and would respond after they had viewed my five spiral submission Mr Kearney took back to AUSTEL. I have yet to see an official finding by AUSTEL/ACMA from their investigations which might have assisted me in appealing my arbitration award.    

On 21 March 1995, during my government-endorsed arbitration with Telstra, which had been facilitated by AUSTEL (now ACMA), I was asked to give evidence at the Legal and Constitutional Reference Committee and Legislation Committee (Interception) Amendment Bill 1994 Committee Room 2S1 at Parliament House Canberra, because the Australian Federal Police uncovered Telstra had been intercepting my telephone conversations over an extended period and that AUSTEL (Now ACMA) had refused to provide me copies of the NINE Audio Tapes of those conversations we four COT Cases had and which were recorded on these tapes. AUSTEL/ACMA provided them to the AFP (See Illegal Interception File No/3) but refused to supply us four COT Case those tapes regardless of them being aware we four claimants had raised these unauthorised interception issues as part of our arbitration claims.

Had I been provided copies, I could have proved this part of my claim to the arbitrator. The arbitrator's award mentions not one single comment about these interception claim documents. The attached AFP transcripts (Question 81 Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 show the AFP acknowledged that John MacMahon from AUSTEL had proof my telephone conversations were intercepted without my consent. A Ballarat COT Case member (who I have not named here for a good reason) whose name will be recorded by the Committee hearing his evidence of what this unauthorised phone interception had on his well-being as a counsellor for young gay men broke down and, like me was unable to convey fully what this harassment into our lives by Telstra had caused us. 

On 15 February 1994, prior to this Committee (Interception) Amendment Bill 1994 hearing, Senator Richard Alston (Shadow Minister for Communications) put several questions to the Senate Estimates Committee, On Notice, and at point 3 on Notice, asked Telstra in

"On what basis is Telstra denying copies of tapes to those customers which it has admitted to taping"?. 

When the COT Cases jointly asked Telstra and AUSTEL (now ACMA) to provide a copy of those nine tapes to assist us in our arbitration claim, we were met with silence and excuses that the material was no longer available. Neither Telstra nor AUSTEL would write an acknowledgement to the arbitrator that Telstra had intercepted our telephone conversations without authorization. 

For the government communications regulator, AUSTEL (now ACMA), to have refused this request leading up to and during the COT arbitrations shows their bias towards everyday Australians, where the Telstra Corporation is concerned. This was vital evidence that the government refused to supply its citizens. Evidence that the government promised the COT Cases would be provided to them if they agreed to arbitration instead of pushing for a Senate investigation into the conduct of Telstra. 

Just prior to this Legal and Constitutional Reference Committee and Legislation Committee (Interception) Amendment Bill 1994 hearing two AUSTEL representatives (who were observers only at this Committee hearing that AUSTEL was aware that Telstra (the defendants in my arbitration) had fabricated two of their arbitration defence documents (see Telstra's Falsified SVT Report and Telstra's Falsified BCI Report) which had been provided to the arbitrator under oath but that AUSTEL could not get involved (see below)

The arbitrator hearing my case later accepted these two falsified reports as factual and not fabricated because Telstra had sworn under oath in a witness statement that AUSTEL had guaranteed their testing at Cape Bridgewater, where my business was located, when AUSTEL had damned both tests one in November 1883 the other in September 1994.

After receiving these two fabricated reports, the arbitrator refused to give his two arbitration technical consultants DMR & Lane (see Chapter 1 - The collusion continues}  the extra weeks they advised him in writing were needed to investigate my ongoing billing problems, which these two falsified reports stated I did not have any ongoing faults. 

That one action by those two government AUSTEL/ACMA  representatives ruined my chance of proving to the arbitrator my business was still suffering from ongoing phone problems. How can the current government give ACMA more power? The above can so quickly be proven, as my website absentjustice.com shows.

 

Major Fraud Group Victoria Police 

The Prime Minister, the Hon Anthony Albanese, would not be aware that I was seconded by the Major Fraud Group Victoria Police to assist in their investigations initiated by Barrister Sue Owens on behalf of the Casualties of Telstra (COT cases) Ann Garms, Ralph Bova, Ross Plowman and Graham Schorer regarding fraud claims against Telstra.

Major Fraud Group Barrister Mr Neil Jepson had read my book Ring For Justice and seconded me to assist. (Please note:- Senator Kim Car has also read this book.) I worked with four members of the Major Fraud Group from late 1998 through to 2000, attending three two full days of research during this time.

Transcripts taken during two meetings with a Senator, a senior Telstra executive, a Barrister and the COT spokesperson when discussing my documented evidence provided to Barristers Sue Owens and Mr Neil Jepson, by me was considered outstanding (see Major Fraud Group Transcript (2) 

The NLP John Howard Coalition government applied pressure on the Victoria Police to abandon their investigations.

However, before this investigation was abandoned I uncovered evidence that AUSTEL (now ACMAhad acted in concert with Telstra several times leading up to and during the COT arbitrations (which included my arbitration) to ensure the then Labor Minister for Communications, the Hon Michael Lee MP, and the arbitrator Dr Gordon Hughes would not uncover the faulty Service Verification testing equipment used by Telstra as part of the agreed arbitration testing. In 1993 Coopers and Lybrand (now Pricewaterhouse Coopers audited Telstra network and found this equipment was grossly deficient and should not be used in the COT arbitrations and that Telstra should seek offshore for better equipment.

Regardless of this advice, Telstra still used this faulty equipment during the arbitration process.

In spite of this knowledge AUSTEL/ACMA wrote to the Hon Michael Lee MP, on 2 February 1995, attaching the third official COT Cases AUSTEL review stating all six COT Case businesses tested by the SVT process had met all of AUSTEL’s specifications. In my case (as one of the six businesses tested) documents uncovered during the Major Fraud Group investigations reveal AUSTEL/ACMA had already written to the Telstra Engineer Peter Gamble, who carried out these tests at my business on 29 September 1994, received two letters from AUSTEL/ACMA on 11 October and 16 November 1994 (see Exhibit 123 and 124 AS-CAV Exhibit 92 to 127 –, damning his SVT process and demanding answers from Telstra to what they intended doing regarding my arbitration testing.

This was the same Peter Gamble who was named in a Senate Committee hearing on 24 and 25 June 1997 by a Telstra whistleblower Lindsey White who advised the Committee he was told by Mr Gamble naming me as one of the five COT Cases who had to be stopped at all cost from proving my arbitration claims against Telstra (see:- pages 36 to 38 Senate - Parliament of Australia. Mr Gamble even went further by swearing under oath in his arbitration witness statement dated 12 December 1994 that his arbitration service verification testing at my business met all of AUSTEL’s mandatory requirements.

Further evidence is available and can be currently downloaded from my website, which shows AUSTEL/ACMA withheld damning information from the COT Cases and the arbitrator hearing those cases, and also various government Ministers who held portfolios of Communications concerning the actual state of the Telstra network.

Absentjustice-Introduction File 495, dated 22 September 1994, is a transcript taken during an oral interview at the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office with AUSTEL’s representatives Bruce Matthews and John McMahon.

On page 7 of this manuscript, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Director of Investigations Canberra John Wynack, asked: ‘What was the date the report was issued, the AUSTEL report”? And Mr Matthews replied:

‘The final report was April – I can’t remember the date in April, but April 1994The draft report was produced in March 1994 and Telecom received their copy of that at the time.’

These actions by AUSTEL/ACMA, providing evidence to one party (Telstra, the defendants in the COT arbitrations) and not the claimant, was an abuse of process.

When AUSTEL allowed me to spend more than $300,000 in arbitration fees, trying to prove something that AUSTEL had already proved against Telstra, this breached their statutory obligation towards me as an Australian citizen.

(AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings), at points to 212, were compiled after the government communications regulator investigated my ongoing telephone problems. AUSTEL’s adverse findings were provided to Telstra (the defendants) one month before Telstra and I signed our arbitration agreement. I did not get a copy of these same findings until 23 November 2007, 12 years after the conclusion of my arbitration advantage to Telstra.

My website absentjustice.com can be viewed to substantiate further that AUSTEL/ACMA has been biased on many occasions against Australian citizens, and giving them more power without addressing their past unethical conduct is not the best way forward, but, indeed, dangerous.

On my website, under Chapter 2 - Bell Canada International Inc, we see that Telstra had the power to tell AUSTEL’s chair Robin Davey to alter the findings in AUSTEL’s COT Cases April 1994 draft public report, which stated there were 120,000 COT-type telephone problems affecting Australian citizens, to read “more than 50”. Providing the government and the arbitrator with such a sanitised report is beyond contempt. In my case, AUSTEL stated in the final report provided to the arbitrator and Minister Lee MP that when I purchased my business, it was connected to an modern ARK telephone exchange at Cape Bridgewater, yet their draft findings (Point 6 (AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings) show my business was connected to an Old RAX exchange, which was supposed to have been removed years before it was.

The Hon Anthony Albanese 

Mr Prime Minister, Sir, please set up a meeting with a government representative to investigate further my claims concerning the unethical way AUSTEL/ACMA conducted itself during and after the completion of my government-endorsed arbitration when dealing with my arbitration issues.

Yours Sincerely 

Alan Smith 

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How can one publish a true account of what happened during various Australian Government-endorsed arbitrations without attaching exhibits to support the facts, as we have been forced to do due to the rampant corruption within the government bureaucracy? How can the author prove that government public servants fed privileged information to the then Australian Government-owned telecommunications carrier (the defendants) but also concealed the same documentation from the claimants, their fellow Australian citizens?

Additionally, how can one tell a story so unbelievable that even the author doubts the authenticity of what they are writing until they check their records before continuing with the story? How can one expose collusion between an arbitrator, various appointed government watchdogs (umpire), and the defendants? How can one also expose that the defendants in an arbitration process (the once government-owned telecommunications carrier) used equipment connected to their network to screen faxed material leaving your office? 

Moreover, how can one expose that the defendant's advisors stored the screened material without the author's knowledge or consent before redirecting it to its intended destination, where, in some cases, the more relevant information was never forwarded? The defendants (the Telstra Corporation) were using this screened material to benefit their arbitration defence to the detriment of the claimants.

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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.”

Hon David Hawker

“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

“…the very large number of persons that had been forced into an arbitration process and have been obliged to settle as a result of the sheer weight that Telstra has brought to bear on them as a consequence where they have faced financial ruin if they did not settle…”

Senator Carr

“A number of people seem to be experiencing some or all of the problems which you have outlined to me. …

“I trust that your meeting tomorrow with Senators Alston and Boswell is a profitable one.”

Hon David Hawker MP

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