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Chapter 9 - Spurious claims

Please note: this page is still being edited and our evidence files are still being collated as 1 May 2022.

Enter the hackers 

I provided the AUSTEL with further damaging information concerning the weaknesses in Telstra's Melbourne Lonsdale Exchange which showed that 50 per cent of my Melbourne telephone callers from Melbourne calling into my business at Cape Bridgewater 430 kilometres away were trunked through the Lonsdale Exchange. Telstra had somehow forgotten to programme the first six digits 055 267 of the Cape Bridgewater telephone exchange into the system for at least eight months. While this was bad enough, those callers received a recorded electronic message telling them my business was no longer trading.

So, when we were offered documents from an unknown source stating the hackers had gained access to Telstra's Melbourne Lonsdale Telephone Exchange which we knew was linked to the outside world, alarm bells began to ring. We were being offered emails and faxes proving Telstra and others had us COT Cases under electronic surveillance during our arbitration; we thought this might be set up. Was the Lonsdale Exchange the carrot to trap us into accepting documents outside of the arbitration process? Therefore, we declined to take the documents on offer.  

 Absent Justice - Break In

A statutory declaration prepared by Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) on 7 July 2011 was provided to the Victorian Attorney-General the Hon Robert Clark. This statutory declaration discusses three young computer hackers who phoned Graham to warn him during the 1994 COT arbitrations. The hackers had discovered Telstra and others associated with our arbitrations were acting unlawfully towards the COT group. Graham’s statutory declaration includes the following statements:

“After I signed the arbitration agreement on 21st April 1994 I received a phone call after business hours when I was working back late in the office. This call was to my unpublished direct number.

“The young man on the other end asked for me by name. When I had confirmed I was the named person, he stated that he and his two friends had gained internal access to Telstra’s records, internal emails, memos, faxes, etc. He stated that he did not like what they had uncovered. He suggested that I should talk to Frank Blount directly. He offered to give me his direct lines in the his [sic] Melbourne and Sydney offices …

“The caller tried to stress that it was Telstra’s conduct towards me and the other COT members that they were trying to bring to our attention.

“I queried whether he knew that Telstra had a Protective Services department, whose task was to maintain the security of the network. They laughed, and said that yes they did, as they were watching them (Telstra) looking for them (the hackers). …

“After this call, I spoke to Alan Smith about the matter. We agreed that while the offer was tempting we decided we should only obtain our arbitration documents through the designated process agreed to before we signed the agreement.” (See Hacking – Julian Assange File No/3)

Who were these hackers that had told us so much? Why had we not listened to them? We were in a government-endorsed arbitration. How could this happen in a democratic country like Australia? But it was, and these hackers had warned us what to expect.

On 6 September 2006, in parliament house Canberra it was revealed by Ann Garms, one of the four original COT Cases, in the company of Senator Barnaby Joyce, (now Deputy Prime Minister of Australia) in the company of several witnesses that she also received a call from a group of hackers during the early part of her arbitration telling Ann they had uncovered internal Telstra emails and faxes confirming Telstra had advised the government that a locking device had been placed on the phone lines of Brian Grey of Compass Airlines, whose reservation booking centre was trunked through to the same telephone exchange in Fortitude Valley Brisbane to which Ann's business the Tivoli Restaurant was connected to. It was this telephone call that had prompted Ann to request certain documents from Telstra under FOI. 

Senator Joyce asked Ann to provide him with the evidence that proved her business had also been sabotaged, as was Brian Greys, I am not sure what Ann provided Senator Joyce, but Ann did provide the meeting with the following documents.

A memo between executives within Telstra back in July, entitled ‘COT Cases Latest ’, states, in part:

I disagree with raising the issue of the courts. That carried an implied threat not only to COT cases but to all customers that they will end up as lawyer fodder. Certainly that can be a message to give face to face to customers to hold in reserve if the complainants remain vexatious  Arbitrator File No/92 

We are left to wonder how many Telstra’s customers like the COT Cases, who once they went into arbitration and/or mediation, ended up as lawyer fodder with broken homes and businesses destroyed?

A TV news program was also a target:

Good news re Channel —— News. Haven’t checked all outlets but as it didn’t run on the main bulletin last night, we can be pretty certain that the story died the death. I wish I could figure which phrase it was that convinced —— not to proceed. Might have been one of ‘(name deleted) pearls Arbitrator File No/93 

The name deleted was Telstra’s Corporate Secretary at the time. I have omitted the identity of the TV station and reporter. We too can only wonder what it was that convinced a respected journalist to drop a story.

It transpired that the same area general manager who deliberately misinformed me during the settlement process in 1992–93 was one of the two Telstra staff appointed to ‘deal with the media/politicians’ regarding COT issues. Would she misinform the media the way she misinformed me, I wondered.

A memo between executives within Telstra back in July1993, entitled ‘Cot Wrap-Up’, states, in part:

I think it should be acknowledged these customers are not going to become delighted. We are dealing with the long-term aggrieved and they will not lie down. Further, I propose that we consider immediately targeting key reporters in the major papers and turn them on to some sexy ‘Look at superbly built and maintained network’ stories. I advise that Clinton be targeted for some decent Telstra exclusive stories to get his mind out of the gutter. Prologue Evidence File No 24 to 39

We ‘long-term aggrieved’ are left to wonder just who ‘Clinton’ was and why his mind was considered to be in the gutter.

Another most startling document which I received long after my arbitration Telstra FOI folio 101072 to 10123 titled “In-Service Test Performance for The Telecom Australia Public Switched Telephone Service (Telecom Confidential) notes:

“The performances tabulated below have been formulated to aid dispute investigation and resolution. The information contained herein is for internal Telstra Corporation use only and must not be released to any third party, particularly AUSTEL.” (refer 101072 Arbitrator File No 63)

If AUSTEL had known that this document included the words“must not be released to any third party, particularly AUSTEL”, perhaps their public servants might not have perjured themselves in defence of Telstra’s arbitration claims that all the Service Verification Testing at my business on 29 September 1994 had met all AUSTEL’s specifications? And I believe those public servants certainly did perjure themselves, not only in their 2 February 1995 letter but again in the third COT cases quarterly report to the communications minister, the Hon Michael Lee MP. Refer to Main Evidence File No/2 and File No 3 which confirms that, at my premises at least, Telstra definitely did not carry out their arbitration Service Verification Testing (SVT) to AUSTEL’s mandatory specifications, at all.

In a Telstra internal memo relating to the Tivoli Theatre Restaurant, owned and run by Ann Garms in Brisbane, is the comment:

Tests looped … maybe the bug has slipped off. Looks like a job for super sleuth Sherlock Kelly? (See to exhibit 2 file Phone/fax bugging 1 to 8)

An ongoing Telstra fault record relating to the Tivoli Restaurant provides surprisingly interesting reading when it makes reference to the Federal Police investigation:

John Brereton (Fed Police) initially stated a particular person was paying money for 3 people + others in Telstra to manipulate some services … Why was Federal police stopped from investigating the Tivoli Case …

Why did John Brereton start to deny everything and then volunteer for service in New Guinea for 2 years …”Why did AA of Protective Services initially accede to my request to borrow a Bug scanning device for the 12th Night and Tivoli, then suddenly change heart (See exhibit 1 file Phone/fax bugging 1 to 8)

Ann passesed away in 2018, and I have been unable to find out what she did or did not provde Senator Joyce (now Australia's Deputy Prime Minister) but the Sherlock Kelly - Tests looped suggest this could have been one of the documents.  

The fact that some of these file notes: not the ones with FOI numbering were provided to Ann 'off of the back of the truck' a statement made by Ann to me suggests these were the documents she obtained from the hackers.

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The following segment is still be checked for editing purpooses.

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In January 1994, COT members informed the Minister of Communications of our suspicions of Telstra bugging, after which things happened very quickly. The Minister ordered an investigation by the Federal Police (AFP), and on 10 February 1994 Austel wrote to the Telstra Manager in charge of the COT arbitrations:

Yesterday we were called upon by officers of the Australian Federal Police in relation to the taping of the telephone services of COT cases.

On 25 February, Senator Alston, then Shadow Minister for Communications, asked Austel’s Mr Robin Davey in the Senate Estimates Committee hearing on COT issues:

Mr Davey, Why did not Austel immediately refer COT’s allegations of voice recording to the Federal Police instead of waiting for the Minister to refer the matter to the Attorney General and then on to the Federal Police?

Be that as it may, when the AFP interviewed Austel, they were provided with documents showing that Telstra had listened in to my phone conversations.

In a letter to Telstra in February 1994, John MacMahon, General Manager, Consumer Affairs, Austel, acknowledges receipt of nine audio tapes from Telstra and notes that these tapes, which are related to the ‘taping of the telephone services of COT Cases,’ had been passed on to the AFP. No warrant was ever issued by the Federal Court for this taping, neither was a warrant issued in either of the Australian states in which the taping took place. Clearly, therefore, this taping was carried out unlawfully. Further, it was carried out during a legal resolution process involving the COT members.

Despite these investigations, no findings of Telstra’s surveillance or monitoring activities have ever been officially presented. At the time of writing, Telstra has still not been held to account, even for those which took place when Telstra was in arbitration with me. If the AFP or the government had pursued these questions, I would not still be searching for answers today.

On a number of occasions during 1994 I was interviewed by the AFP on this matter, and while they were unable to show me the documents and tapes Austel had given them, it seemed to me they were taking my problems with Telstra and my arbitration seriously. In one interview, I showed them an FOI document which conveys that the writer knew where the caller usually rang from even though, on this occasion, the caller was phoning from a different number, ‘somewhere near Adelaide’. The police were concerned about how a caller was able to be identified if he called from another number.

Constable (name deleted) of the AFP affirmed for me that Telstra had provided them with evidence of this ‘live monitoring’, which had gone on for some time:

 

… you were live monitored for a period of time. So we’re quite satisfied that, that there are other references to it.[3]  

 

[1] Austel letter to Telstra’s Group General Manager (AS52-B file AS 48-A to 91).

[2] Senate Hansard records 25/2/94, p. A133 file AS 128 to 180.

Graham Schorer - Conflict of Interest

No author should write only part of a story based on fact while leaving out a relevant part of the story because it might be seen as detrimental to another person in the story. A full factual account of what happened during the COT arbitrations is necessary: both the good and the bad.

So, I must raise a conflict of interest that clearly affected the whole outcome of the first four arbitrations. I felt it was best to leave this issue to last.

What has been decidedly the hardest decision for me to make since I began telling the COT storey is exposing the conflict-of-interest issue between Graham Schorer (Golden Messenger) and Dr Gordon Hughes. For Telstra (the defendants in those four arbitrations) to have allowed this the conflict-of-interest issue with existing before the four complainants signed the arbitration agreement in April 1994 suggests that Telstra saw an advantage to their defence by allowing it. I only uncovered this conflict-of-interest issue in 2008, after Graham Schorer asked me in August 2006 to write several reports concerning the COT story. 

After I had exposed to Graham/Golden how his conflict-of-interest with the arbitrator had benefitted him and not the other COT Cases and that this conduct by Dr Hughes was more than questionable and had the senate knew about this conflict of interest issue at the time of their 1997 to 1999 (Freedom of Information) investigations, this would have been enough for the senate to instigate a full-blown Senate hearing, and he wanted to the right the wrongs by submitting to the senate the reports I was writing.  This providing my reports to those senators he had met in Canberra would help him to live with what he had done. This was to be his redemption. He felt ashamed for having benefitted from his previous association with Dr Hughes, and the other COT Cases had not.

Some years into my research regarding Graham’s involvement in the COT arbitration’s I uncovered Dr Gordon Hughes had been assisting Graham/Golden in his Golden Messenger business enterprise as well as acting as his Federal court lawyer during the early part of Graham’s previous 1990 to 1993 court action against Telstra. These were the very same technical issues he was appointed by the TIO in 1994 to assess as arbitrator in all four COT claims against Telstra.

When I asked Graham to please explain why he had concealed this conflict-of-interest from me before arbitration as well as before commissioning me to write the COT story; he wrote the following document exhibit GS 565 file GS-CAV 459 to 489 as a compromise if I would continue with the project at hand.

For the second time within days, Graham again confided in me his sense of guilt for not exposing this conflict of interest during the period the Senator was investigating his Freedom of Information FOI matters which awarded him 3,600 million dollars. He felt guilty as the COT spokesperson for not having done more for the remaining (sixteen COT Cases who also had the same FOI problems with Telstra during their various litigation processes). I reiterate his paying for me to expose this whole dreadful saga was his way of righting his wrongs for not having done more as the COT spokesperson.

It is as important to look at this conflict-of-interest issue from the perspective of the other COT claimants as it is to look at it from Graham’s perspective because, as Graham’s earlier legal advisor in both his business ventures and his Federal Court Telstra matters. Because if Dr Hughes, as Graham alleges, he did know about the concealment of important documents Graham/Golden litigation against Telstra in the Federal court from 1990 to 1992, then we three COT Cases Ann Garms, Maureen Gillan and I were entitled to have been briefed on this matter. The fact that Telstra and the Establishment got away with this during a federal court action is one thing, but for Dr Hughes and/or members of the legal firm to which Dr Hughes was a senior partner appear to have also been party to this concealment brings a massive cloud over the COT four arbitration just three years later, when Telstra concealed similar documents from all of the four COT cases during their arbitration, in which Dr Hughes was the arbitrator. 

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“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

“…your persistence to bring about improvements to Telecom’s country services. I regret that it was at such a high personal cost.”

Hon David Hawker

“Only I know from personal experience that your story is true, otherwise I would find it difficult to believe. I was amazed and impressed with the thorough, detailed work you have done in your efforts to find justice”

Sister Burke

“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald-Sun (2nd April 1993) about phone difficulties experienced by businesses.

I wish to confirm that I have had problems trying to contact Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp over the past 2 years.

I also experienced problems while trying to organise our family camp for September this year. On numerous occasions I have rung from both this business number 053 424 675 and also my home number and received no response – a dead line.

I rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported this incident to Telstra who got the same noise when testing.”

Cathy Lindsey

“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

“…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

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

– Edmund Burke