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Malfeasance in public office

INTRODUCTION - Malfeasance in public office

 

Malfeasance in public office is destroying our democracy. We need to put an end to this criminal conduct. These horrendous crimes committed in Australian government-endorsed arbitrations by blind public servants are destroying democracy in Australia.

The following seven dot points are from 94 examples in this introduction where the arbitration Act was breached, and the law in Australia was not adhered to to minimize the arbitration defence payout, i.e., their commercial liability.

 

 

Introduction

 

Please note: In the following chronology of events I refer myself to either Alan Smith of Alan. The numbered exhibits feferred to in this chronology of events can be accessed from the Evidence Files attached below. 

oOo

Alan Smith purchased the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp in November 1987, and the hand over of the business to Alan and his wife, Faye, took place in February 1988. There was no disconnection or reconnection of the phone or fax service; the accounts were simply transferred into their names, maintaining the same business names associated with the same contact numbers.

This is the chronology of events and documents pertaining to ‘Ring for Justice’, a book detailing the events that ensued.

Setting the Scene

19th April 1988: Telstra records one of Alan’s complaints Exhibit (AS 1). Alan had driven approximately twenty kilometres from the Camp into Portland to do some shopping when he realised he had left his shopping list behind, so found a public phone to ring his wife, Faye. He was stunned when, instead of reaching Faye, he twice reached a recorded message stating the phone had been disconnected. Alan rang Telecom’s fault centre and was told Telecom would investigate the problem. Finally, he decided to try to ring the camp again to check the purchases against the list. This time the phone was engaged and he assumed Faye was talking to a friend or, hopefully, a prospective customer.

When Alan arrived back at the camp Faye advised him she had not answered, or made any phone calls the entire time he had been gone.

26th April 1988: Telstra records another one of Alan’s complaints (AS 1).

2nd & 24th May 1988: Telstra records two more of Alan’s complaints (AS 1).

One of the faults frequently experienced with the phone at the camp were call drop-outs.  If Alan or his wife had rung the person themselves, this was not such a great problem at first since they could just redial, although it did cost them another STD call. The problem became much worse if they couldn’t reconnect (and often the line remained dead for some time), or if the call was inbound (as the caller had to bear the cost of redialling). If the call had come in to the camp, particularly if it was one of the few business enquiries that managed to get through at all, it was very frustrating for Alan or Faye to wait and wait in the hopes of the caller ringing back, ultimately causing a loss of prospective clients.

2nd & 6th September 1988: Telstra continues to record Cape Bridgewater fault complaints.

The phone problems worsened. Often the line remained dead for some time after the preceding call had been terminated. This problem was not often noticed until the receiver was lifted to dial out of the business. (AS 1) 

6th & 10th January 1989: As the weeks went by Alan and Faye knew something was amiss as their new business should have been flourishing by now. They began to wonder if their decision to move to Cape Bridgewater was the right one. Family arguments ensued as Alan pushed to sell their beautiful family home in Melbourne and asked his wife, Faye, to give up her thriving dressmaking business in order to finance their new endeavour.

The business lost due to the phone issues was creating constant stress and certainly attributed to the breakdown of Faye and Alan’s marriage.

AUSTEL's 2/3 March 1994 draft Cape Bridgewater report (AS 487) offers enough evidence to show that Telstra had been aware of these problems, yet continuously denied them (AS 1).

It is important to note here that this Austel report (AS 487) was not released to Alan by ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority, and Austel’s new name) until 19 November 2007, some 13 years after it was drafted, and was only released as it was requested under Freedom of Information, and not released in full. This supposedly ‘secret’ and very damaging document is referred to many times throughout this chronology.

20th October 1989: Local Telstra technicians had, by then, assured him there were no real problems with the Cape Bridgewater exchange, and that once the new RCM exchange was installed any lingering ongoing congestion problems would be eliminated.

 

Interception Issues / Criminal Conduct

3rd June 1990: This newspaper article (see below) from The Australian (AS 765-g) states under the heading: Telecom ‘spying’ on its employees further supports pages 1 to 6 of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) transcripts and their concern that Telstra had been hand-writing the names of various people and businesses Alan had been calling on the side column of the CCAS data records which collates all incoming and outgoing calls to Alan's business (AS 765-f).

This newspaper article states

"Democrat Senator Jean Jenkins told the Senate last week Telecom’s activities including bugging workers’ homes.

She also said:

“… the accusations were contained in a statement by a former member of Telecom’s Protective Services branch. Senator Jenkins said the man claimed:

and some of those claims were:

The hand-written notes in the right hand column of this CCAS data (AS 765-f) include, against various dates, the names of people that Alan had telephoned and/or faxed on the 31st January 1994. e.g. GM” (Golden Messenger); AUSTEL; and the Ombudsman.  In one instance the name “Faye Smith” has been inserted when Alan had phoned his ex-wife. This supports the statements made by Senator Jenkins (above) regarding Telstra’s secret surveillance of their own employees in 1990 because here we have Telstra using the same practices in January 1994, and more disturbingly, while they were in litigation with Alan. 

Pages three to five of the transcript of Alan’s interview with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on 26th September 1994 (AS 765-D) relates to Telstra’s recording of who Alan phoned or faxed, and when. 

The AFP believed that Telstra had monitored Alan’s calls because all the people Telstra had recorded were associated with Casualties of Telstra (COT – refer glossary) issues. These three pages from the AFP transcript, together with other documents that Alan provided the AFP between February and November 1994, prove that Telstra had been listening in on private conversations prior and during his Government-endorsed arbitration. 

Australian Federal Police transcripts, (AS 765-D), also support Alan’s belief that, during late 1992 and early 1993 the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp was under surveillance. During this same period, Cathy Ezard was a professional associate of Alan’s, having previously visited his business with a social club from Ballarat. Cathy later signed a statutory declaration dated 23 May 1994, explaining a number of strange occurrences when she attempted to collect mail on Alan’s behalf from the Ballarat Courier Newspaper office (AS 22).

This declaration leaves questions unanswered as to whom collected Alan’s mail and how did they know there was mail to be collected at the Ballarat Courier mail office. On both occasions when this mail was collected by a third person, Alan had previously telephoned Cathy, informing her that the Ballarat Courier had notified Alan there was mail waiting to be picked up.

  

Fault Reports / Customer Letters advising RVA

15th August 1991: This Telstra fault report Subject: Cape Bridgewater, although dated 2nd February 1994, notes various points including the following:

 

Note: LTS is Local Telephone Switching

Thus supporting that Local Telephone Switching Melbourne (LTS) ‘were aware of the problem in early 1990,’ showing that Telstra knew Alan had major problems with his service over many years.

12th February 1992: This hand-written letter from Gladys Crittenden, Haddon & District Community House Inc (AS 9-a) notes: – To Whom It May Concern states:

"Our group rang the Cape Bridgewater Camp on a number of occasions. Mainly from November 1991 through to February 1992, to try to book and finalize our camp arrangements. When I rang the number given to us we only got a taped message from Telecom to say that this number had been disconnected.  I wrote to the camp and told the Manager of the problem and to confirm his phone number. When we rang again we still got the same message as before about being disconnected."

2nd July 1992: Telstra document Subject Grade of Service Complaint Mr Alan Smith notes:

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

They believe that it is a problem that is occurring in increasing numbers as more and more customers are connected to AXE."  (AS 9-B)

[AXE being the Ericsson manufactured AXE telecommunication exchange equipment that is discussed further below]

12th July 1992: This Telstra internal document (AS 705-B) states:

"Congestion between Cape Bridgewater and Portland had been prevalent as only five Junctions available. This situation was to be upgraded with the cutover of Cape Bridgewater RAX to an RCM parented back to Portland AXE 104."

This document explains that congestion meant incoming and outgoing calls intended for Cape Bridgewater could not be connected, because the five junctions were overloaded and, therefore, often resulted in a dead line. It has since been recorded in Exhibit AS DMR & Lanes Report that during the first three years of Alan’s business ownership there were only eight final selectors operating from the Rural Automatic Exchange (RAX), meaning that if four people from the 66 resident families in Cape Bridgewater at that time (mobile phones did not operate in Cape Bridgewater during this period) were on the phone at the same time this allowed only 4 free lines for the remaining 128 other residence (some with older children). Of course the lines were congested, and even more congested during holiday periods.

The alarming fact surrounding the statement in (AS 705-B) is when the RAX was cutover to the newer Remote Customer Multiplexer (RCM) Telstra forgot to program the 267 code into the Melu Melbourne Exchange that switched calls to Cape Bridgewater via Portland. It has been shown below using Telstra's own documents that this non-recognised code went undetected for 7 months - 7 months where 50% of ALL callers from Melbourne to Cape Bridgewater, when ringing Alan or anyone else in Cape Bridgewater, went unconnected.

24th July 1992: This hand-written letter from Robert Palmer, Heywood Primary School – To Whom It May Concern notes:

"There have been several instances over the year when I have attempted, at length, to contact Mr Alan Smith at the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and Convention Centre without success.

In the evenings of October/November 1991 I phoned at least six times to get the recording that the number was not connected. These calls were from my private home.

In school time during March/April 1992 I phoned to ascertain dates available for the Heywood Grade 4 camp and again received the message that the number was not connected." (AS 9-A)

1st September 1992: Rosanne Pittard, Telstra’s General Manager, sends Alan a letter:

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

18th September 1992: Mr Bob Beard, Telstra’s Service Manager, sends Alan a letter:

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

Telstra Freedom of Information (FOI) document (date) folio R01444 (AS 14) confirms that Telstra had documented people experiencing a false Recorded Voice Announcement (RVA) recorded message on Alan's service as it was not connected to Telstra's service lines from at least March 1992. This document also confirms that a Heywood resident, Mrs Saville, also complained of the same RVA fault when trying to ring Alan on 2/9/92. Document R01444, confirms the fault was not fixed until 7th October 1992, three weeks after Mr Bob Beard had sent Alan this letter.

15th October 1992: This Telstra record (AS 10) shows that Alan complained on 13 October 1992 that incoming calls to his business at 1:20 pm, 1:40 pm, 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm rang only once and when the receiver was picked up it was a dead line.

Regarding this, (AS 11) shows that a Portland Telstra technician advised management that:

"We had the ELMI disconnected at the RCM and was installing it at Mr Smith's house.

The CCAS showed no evidence of above."

(AS 10) are copies of two ELMI tape records showing that an ELMI was connected at Alan's premises on 13 October 1992 and that calls at 13.29.25 (approximately 1:30 pm) and 15.01.11 (approximately 3:00 pm) did register as coming into Alan's business.

Why was a local Telstra technician saying one thing, and documents Alan acquired under FOI saying something else?  This conflicting information has largely contributed to business lost between February1988 and the start of his arbitration in April 1994. But together, this conflicting information and the flawed 12 December 1994 arbitration Witness Statements (which are discussed later), would have influenced the arbitrator’s and certainly rendered Alan’s complaints of ongoing telephone and fax problems less serious.

23rd November 1992: Don Lucas, Telstra's Commercial Vic/Tas Region, fault centre incorrectly advises Alan that the RVA MELU fault had only lasted for three weeks and had been fixed by 19th March 1992. (AS 15)

Another Telstra FOI document K02643 confirms that Telstra considered this particular RVA MELU fault to be apparent from the cut-over from the old exchange to the new RCM at Cape Bridgewater, dates pertained to from August 1991 to at least 19th March 1992 (AS 16)

In his letter, Mr Lucas further states that another software ‘register’ problem relating to RVA local faults had only lasted from 2nd to 7th October 1992, while other documents received under FOI R01444 (AS 15) confirm that Telstra knew that this fault was apparent from at least 9th September 1992 to 7th October 1992.

 

Settlement

11th December 1992: During this settlement process Alan provided Telstra several letters from clients who had documented their own phone problems when trying to contact the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp (AS 14).   

He also produced at least four letters he had written to the local rural fault centre at Hamilton, somewhere between June 1988 and September 1989, including four independent letters he had received from the operators of the Empress of Tasmania, Heywood Primary School, Collingwood Half-way House and the Haddon Community Health Centre. All of these organizations had experienced difficulties in contacting Alan because of the RVA phone message telling the caller, 'The number you are ringing is not connected'.

Affecting the outcome of this settlement was the alarming discovery that during 1993, the Regulator confirmed that Telstra’s ‘congestion’ tone was very similar to an engaged tone and, unless the caller was aware of the difference (and most non-technical people would not be aware of the difference) they would believe they were hearing an engaged signal when they were actually hearing a ‘congested’ signal.

Because the local Cape Bridgewater exchange used such old technology with so few lines, it is not surprising that it was often congested. This meant that it was quite likely that many prospective customers gave up trying to reach Alan, because they believed he had either ceased trading or not able to be contacted.

In one particular Telstra document FOI C04006 (AS 5) titled Telecom Secret, there is a reference to “... Mr Smith’s service problems…” being “…network related and spanned a period of 3 - 4 years.” and, on document C04008, there is another reference – “Overall, Mr Smith’s telephone service had suffered from poor grade of network performance over a period of several years; with some difficulty to detect exchange problems in the last 8 months.”

As stated, if they knew of the “poor grade of network performance” spanning “a period of 3 - 4 years”, how could they possibly have provided two guarantees that the service was adequately working two and three months before this settlement? 

Furthermore, document C04008 also states “with some difficulty to detect exchange problems in the last 8 months.” This means that the ‘difficulty to detect’ the problems dated back at least to April of 1992.  As a responsible corporate senior manager, how did Rosanne Pittard, Area General Manager, the person who signed this letter, ever allow the two ‘guarantees’ to leave her office?

2nd April 1993: A letter sent in April 1993 to the Editor of the Herald-Sun Newspaper in Victoria, read in part: 

“I am writing in reference to your article in last Friday’s Herald/Sun (2nd April) 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.

The letter goes on to say:

I have 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 and also my home number and received no response - dead line.

I also rang around the end of February (1993) and twice was subjected to a piercing noise similar to a fax. I reported the incident to Telecom who also got the same noise when testing." (AS 1006)

Because of a number of reports regarding this ‘piercing noise’, a worker from Telstra’s Country Division arranged to have Alan's service switched to another system.  Unfortunately, this did not help.

5th May 1993: Alan rang psychologist Mr Don Burnard’s office looking for support. Alan's conversation with his office was interrupted three times by phone faults.  Later, Alan received a letter from Mr Burnards office, dated 5 May 1993 saying: 

“I am writing to you to confirm details of telephone conversation difficulties experienced between this office and your residence mid-morning this day, 5 May 1993. 

At approximately 11.30am today Mr Alan Smith telephoned this office requesting to speak with Mr Don Burnard.  Mr Burnard was not available to take the call but during this time the telephone cut out three times. Each time Mr Smith telephoned back to continue the call.” (AS 1007)

Other rural subscribers wrote to various TV stations and newspapers supporting Alan's allegations that, with regard to telephone services, rural small-business people, as well as the rural general public, were not being supplied with a level playing field when compared to their city cousins.

One of these letters dated 23 August, 1993 is particularly interesting. It came from a company of Insurance Loss Adjusters in Ballarat, a rural city in Victoria, and was sent to the producer of “Real Life”, a TV current affairs program then being broadcast on Channel 7.  The Loss Adjusters wrote:  “Re Problems with Telstra”

"I have watched with interest the shorts leading up to tonight’s program as I have similar problems to the man at Cape Bridgewater.

Our office is located in Ballarat and due to Telecom structure the majority of our local calls are STD-fee based. (STD calls are charged per time)

On many occasions we have been unable to get through to numbers we have dialled, often receiving the message “this number is not connected” or similar messages which we know to be untrue.

Clients report that they often receive the engaged signal when calling us, and a review of the office reveals that at least one of our lines was free at the relevant time.

We have just received our latest Telecom bill, which in total is up about 25% – 30% on the last bill.  This is odd because our work load in the billing period was down by about 25% and we have one staff member less than the previous billing period.” (AS 1008)

In the first twelve months of 1993, Alan received another eleven written complaints about his own service problems, and four small-business people calling themselves Casualties of Telstra (COT) was formed.

Well into 1993 things began to warm up for COT Cases: the then-Shadow Minister for Communications, the Hon Richard Alston, was showing an interest in their claims and a National Party Senator, the Hon Ron Boswell, who obviously had no political gain in mind, also became involved. Even though the National Party Senator was based in Queensland, and most of the members of COT were in Victoria, he has continued to offer his support.

Alan's local Member of Parliament (South West Victoria) the Hon David Hawker MP, was another who saw his ‘duty of care’ to his constituents, and so answered the call for help.  He continued to support Alan for more than fifteen years, but unfortunately was never able to resolve the ongoing telephone/fax problems at the holiday camp, for Alan and/or the new owners of the business.

While the politicians and Telstra conducted their secret deals behind closed doors, Alan continued to lobby Austel (Australian Telecommunications Authority) for assistance.  Between February and June of 1993, Alan provided more and more evidence of incorrect charging on his 008/1800 freecall service as well as the other three lines servicing his business.  Finally, AUSTEL's General Manager of Consumer Affairs asked Alan to record all the short duration calls and RVAs that were still being charged to his 008/1800 accounts, and were also showing up on the ELMI testing machine Telstra had installed at the local exchange.  Short duration calls were particularly irritating – the phone would ring once and stop, or if Alan or his staff picked it up after that first ring, they would find a dead line with no way of knowing who had tried to get through.

Not only was AUSTEL, now involved in the COT battle by late 1992, but the COT Cases were also dealing with the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office as well, so both these organisations were aware that Alan continued to ask Telstra, under the rules of FOI, to provide him with copies of the data from the testing equipment at the phone exchange that the camp was connected to, for the period of May to July 1993.

The Regulator’s General Manager of Consumer Affairs was becoming more concerned at the evidence COT members were producing; evidence of faults and incorrect charging.  These two problems — people not being able to get through and calls being charged incorrectly, come together in a note from a lady in Croydon who wrote regarding problems getting through to Cape Bridgewater on 22nd May 1993. She explained how she continually reached a recorded voice announcement saying that Alan's phone had been disconnected. Alan's Telstra 008 account for that day showed a number of very short calls.  Apparently he was being charged for RVA messages, short duration and faults that Telstra calls ‘post dialling delay faults’! (AS 1012)

  

Briefcase Saga

On 3rd June 1993: As a result of Alan's constant complaints to the Regulator, including incorrect charging. Telstra’s ‘Network Investigations’ department were finally involved and, for the very first time, Telstra investigators were sent to Cape Bridgewater.  At last, or so Alan thought, he would be able to speak directly to people who knew what they were talking about and get to the bottom of the issue.

Mr David Stockdale and Mr Hew Mackintosh told him nothing he hadn’t heard before. With nothing resolved, they finally prepared to leave and head back to town.  Alan's own transport was, by this time, long gone: sold to pay some of his mounting debts, and he also needed to go into Portland.  The technicians offered Alan a lift. 

After spending some time in Portland Alan got a lift back to Cape Bridgewater with a neighbour.  In his office he found that, one of the technicians, had inadvertently left behind a briefcase. Alan opened it to find out who actually owned it and the first thing he found was a file titled “SMITH, CAPE BRIDGEWATER”. 

After five gruelling years fighting with Telstra and being told various lies along the way, here was possibly the truth, as seen from Telstra’s perspective.  Some of the documents in this file were much too technical for Alan to understand or interpret. Some that he could decipher, however, dated back to the ex-gratia compensation payment he received on 11th December 1992.  Then he froze.  He had turned the page to be confronted with the words “Problem 1”.

This document referred to Telstra being aware that the alleged three-week RVA fault in March of 1992 had actually lasted for ‘eight months’, not the three weeks Alan had been told on the day he accepted the compensation payment (AS 16). A copy of a similar document that Alan received in 2007 from now Australian Communications Media Authority (AS 15) supports that document.

The file also revealed that Telstra had known before Alan’s settlement, that major faults still existed in their network at the time of the settlement, but they did not disclose this to Alan during that settlement process (AS 5), (AS 9) and (AS 10).

Another not seen before document dated 24th July 1992, and with Alan’s phone number in the top right corner, refers to Alan's complaint that people ringing him get an RVA “service disconnected” message, with a sentence reading: “Network investigation should have been brought in as fault has gone on for 8 months " (AS 1003).

A further document (AS 1004), dated 27 July 1992, discusses other problems experienced by possible clients who tried to contact Alan from Station Pier in Melbourne: some of these hand-written records go back to October 1991, and many of them were fault complaints that Alan had not recorded himself.  Telstra, however, has never explained who authorised the withholding of these names from Alan because if he had known he could have contacted them with an alternate contact number, Alan’s Melbourne agent, Peter Turner.  Employing an agent was the only alternative due to Telstra’s inability to fix the ongoing problems.

Some of the entries listed on document AS 1004 appeared to have been schools and social clubs, which not only means that Alan had clearly lost a number of very large bookings because they had not been able to get through, but of course, he lost any return bookings or referrals and repeat business. Even if only half those enquiries turned into bookings, all that business, and the repeat and/or flow-on business was still lost because Telstra wouldn’t or couldn’t fix the phone problems, and continued to refuse admission for ongoing faults.

The documents in the briefcase quickly informed Alan that they were aware of the impact Telstra’s inadequate service was actually having on his revenue base.

Document AS1005 supports that it was quite possible that the RVA problems Alan’s business experienced had actually lasted from at least August 1991 to at least July 1992 – and probably longer.  It is also clear from this internal Telstra memo that their Portland technicians supported this, because document (AS 1005) states that:

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

They believe that it is a problem that is occurring in increasing numbers as more and more customers are connected to AXE."

The Portland Telephone Exchange, which was manufactured by Ericsson, was commonly known around the word as an AXE exchange and, as will be explained later in this story, Telstra was well aware at the time that other countries were experiencing major lock-up problems with the AXE.  They also knew that this lock-up fault could have created anything up to 15% of lost calls. This Telstra internal email FOI folio A13980 dated 24 February 1994 from a Kevin Dwyer to Peter Gamble (AS 1009) notes:

“You are quite correct in your thought that the anecdotal reference applied more to AXE than ARE-11. 'Lockups' are generally well-known as a problem in AXE exchanges, not only in Australia but in overseas countries as well.”

The email goes on to say:

“Ericsson are said to have suggested that call loss could be up to 15%.” 

It is perfectly clear that Alan was certainly misled and deceived by Telstra as part of his 11 December 1992 settlement, and it eventually became equally clear that he had actually been misled almost from the very first complaint he registered in April 1988 as well

9th June 1993: this letter to Telstra from AUSTEL is part of the briefcase saga, as it confirms that AUSTEL was concerned that Alan had been misled and deceived by Telstra during the aforementioned settlement.  On page one, paragraphs four and five, when referring to Alan’s allegations that Telstra had withheld this information from him on 11th December 1992, this letter states:

"Further, he claims that Telecom documents (found in the briefcase) contain network investigation findings which are distinctly different from the advice which Telecom has given to the customer concerned.

In summary, these allegations, if true, would suggest that, in the context of the settlement, Mr Smith was provided with a misleading description of the situation as the basis for making his decision. They would also suggest that the other complainants identified in the folders have knowingly been provided with inaccurate information.

I ask for your urgent comments on these allegations. You are asked to immediately provide AUSTEL with a copy of all the documentation which was apparently inadvertently left at Mr Smith’s premises for his inspection.

It goes further to say:

In light of Mr Smith’s claims of continuing service difficulties, I will be seeking to determine with you a mechanism which will allow an objective measurement of any such difficulties to be made." (AS 27)

  

Telstra’s Muzzling Power 1

9th June 1993: A TV news program was clearly also a target for Telstra's executives to muzzle the media regarding the validity of the COT Cases claims.  This Telstra internal email dated 16 June, 1993 FOI folio A04646 (AS 956) reports:

"Good news re channel nine 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 phase it was that convinced Jason Cameron not to proceed. Might have been one of Jim Holmes' pearls..."

Jim Holmes being the Telstra Corporate Secretary, the reader by now may well be asking themselves, what type of pearl had been cast by Jim Holmes? Were they pearls of wisdom, financial pearls, or another type of pearl that convinced a respected journalist to drop a story?

During meetings following this casting of pearls, Mr Holmes was assigned to take charge of deflecting allegations about a fellow Telstra executive, Chris VonWiller, for misleading a Minister concerning the true extent of the faults associated with the telephone exchange that two COT businesses had been connected to. These two Telstra executives were also members of the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman board (TIO) when Mr VonWiller misled the Minister, and Mr Holmes was assigned to deflect this serious matter. Again, Jim Holmes and Chris VonWiller were even allowed to attend TIO Board meetings when the TIO was discussing the progress of the TIO-administered COT arbitrations (AS 232-A).

  

Briefcase Saga, continued

One of the more important documents left in that briefcase provided evidence that discussed the manner in which they settled with Alan in December 1992. It indicates they were fully aware that there were still major communication problems affecting the viability of his business endeavours. This is the same ‘briefcase’ evidence that Telstra later told Alan they had also copied on to AUSTEL for assessment. Then, on 27 August 1993, Mr Holmes wrote to Alan 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".

Telstra’s FOI document dated 23 August 1993 and labelled as ‘folio R09830’ (AS 73-A) with the subject listed as ‘The Briefcase’ is alarming to say the least. This document, which had been copied to Mr Holmes, 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".

The word ‘alarming’ is used in relation to this last ‘briefcase’ document because John Pinnock, the TIO, later told the Senate Estimates Committee that COT/TIO-administered arbitration issues were openly discussed at regular monthly TIO Council meetings, which suggests that they would have been discussed at monthly TIO Board meetings too.

The COTs will never know for sure whether Dr Hughes did not find against Telstra on this ‘briefcase’ issue, because he was influenced by Mr Holmes’ pearls, who was, at the time, a member of the TIO Board.

Further, even though Alan’s claim advisor (who had been a witness to the Fitzgerald Royal Commission into Police Corruption in Queensland and a National Crimes Investigation Detective) proved to Dr Hughes how unethical Alan’s 11 December 1992 Settlement process had been, Dr Hughes’ arbitration award report regarding Alan’s case still found in favour of Telstra’s defence regarding that earlier settlement. 

Then, secret Government Regulatory report dated 3 March 1994 (AS 487), which was only supplied to Alan from the Government Regulator in November 2007, condemned Telstra’s 11 December 1992 settlement at point 45 and 46 noting:

"File evidence clearly indicates that Telecom at the time of settlement with Smith had not taken appropriate action to identify possible problems with the RCM. I March 1993 a major fault was discovered in the digital remote multiplexer (RCM) providing telephone services to Cape Bridgewater holiday camp.  The fault may have been in existence for approximately 18 months. The fault Given the nature of Mr Smith's business in comparison with the essentially domestic services surrounding subscribers, Mr Smith would have been more affected by this problem due to the greater volume of incoming traffic than his neighbours.    

Telecom's ignorance of the existence of the RCM fault issues raise a number of questions in regard to Telecom's settlement with Smith. For example, on what basis was settlement made by Telecom if this fault was not known to them at this time? Did Telecom settle with Mr Smith on the basis that his complaints of faults were justified without a full investigation of the validity of these complaints, or did Telecom settle on the basis of faults substantiated to the time of settlement? Either criteria for settlement would have been inadequate, with the latter criteria disadvantaging Mr Smith, as knowledge of the existence of more faults on his service may have led to an increase in the amount offered for settlement of his claim".   

Once again, for reasons known only to Dr Hughes, his ex-Telstra employee/technical advisor favoured Telstra’s arbitration defence in relation to this 11 December 1992 Settlement issue and so Dr Hughes recorded, in Alan’s award, that the RCM fault had only lasted “…at least 50 days (probably 70) in early 1993.” (AS 992).  The DMR & Lane report, at point 2.9, also records 50-70 days (AS 993). 

In November 2007 however, under FOI from ACMA, Alan finally received a copy of AUSTEL’s 3 March 1994 findings against Telstra (AS 487), and the truth was revealed:  the RCM digital fault had existed within the system for at least eighteen months, not 50 to 70 days, as recorded by the arbitrator. While downplaying this serious and ongoing fault was bad enough, Dr Hughes’ award and the DMR & Lane findings included even more favouritism by repeating Telstra’s defence almost word for word. (Arbitration issues are discussed in full later.)

At point 1 on page 33 of Dr Hughes’ award (AS 922) he notes that lightning damage to the RCM on 21 November 1992 affected the service:

“… for 4 days before restorative action was taken.”

At point 2.8, on page 26 of the DMR & Lane report , in relation to the same lightning strike of 21 November 1992, they note:

“The condition affected services for 4 days, before restorative action was taken, which may have been less than successful, refer 2.9”.

Then in AUSTEL’s secret findings for the same fault, at their point 23 (AS 487), they note: 

"It is difficult to discern exactly who had responsibility for Mr Smith’s problems at this time, and how information on his problems was disseminated within Telecom. Information imparted by the Portland officer on 10 February 1993 of suspected problems in the RCM “caused by a lightning (sic) strike to a bearer in late November” led to a specialist examination of the RCM on March 2 1993. Serious problems were identified by this examination."

It may never be possible to calculate what Dr Hughes would have awarded Alan if he had known that this fault lasted for eighteen months rather than 50 to 70 days, or how much he would have awarded Alan had he known that the other four-day lightning strike fault had been ongoing from November 1992 to March 1993. What we do know is that AUSTEL’s report (AS 487) shows that, for around seven months, until Alan’s complaints were finally acted upon, Telstra had somehow forgotten to program the 055 267 telephone prefix for the Cape Bridgewater exchange into the Lonsdale Telephone Exchange in the centre of Melbourne. 

AUSTEL has since accepted that 50% of all callers trying to reach Cape Bridgewater during these seven months would have gone through the Lonsdale Exchange and would have been greeted by a recorded voice message telling the caller that ‘the number you are ringing is not connected’, thereby inferring that Alan was no longer trading.  In relation to this same recorded message however, the arbitrator’s award only reported that the incorrect recorded message caused between 20 and 33% of calls to be lost and it only lasted for: “...16 days and possibly longer.

 

Short duration and 1800 call problems

18th June 1993: Julian Cress from 60 Minutes Channel Nine Television sends Alan a facsimile noting:

"Just a note to let you know that I had some trouble getting through to you on the phone last Thursday. Pretty ironic considering that I was trying to contact you to discuss your phone problems.

The problem occurred at about 11AM. On the “008” number I heard a recorded message advising me that “008” was not available from my phone and on your direct line it was constantly engaged." (AS 24)

In an in-confidence internal Telstra memo dated 25th November 1993, on the subject of short duration calls on Alan's phone lines, Telstra states:

"Mr Smith is obviously well aware that customer premises equipment (CPE) is a significant source/cause of charging and billing disputes, particularly those involving short calls which the customer believes were unsuccessful and should not be charged.  Telephone answering machines, facsimiles and call diverters typically are at the centre of these disputes".

Alan provided evidence to both AUSTEL and the later arbitration process proving that neither his answering machine nor his fax machine could have answered many of these short duration calls. This leaves call diverters as the only ‘culprit’ possible and, since Alan had not authorised any call diversion on any of his lines, this raises the question: Who then had authorised the diversion of at least some of Alan's incoming calls?

The true level of short duration and post dialling delay faults were well known to Telstra as early as May 1993, but they chose to hide the problems and continue to collect revenue from their customers regardless of the level of customer complaints.  In some cases, Telstra forced customers to pay incorrect accounts by threatening to disconnect the customer’s phone lines, even though the customer complaints may well have been quite real.

A Telstra FOI document folio H36291, dated 11th October 1993 (AS 35), states

"I am receiving a disturbing number of instances where the 1800 prefix ‘does not work’ in the network.  Given we are now part way through a major (direct mail) National campaign launching freecall 1800 statewide, I need to know the extent of the problem of missed areas across the country".

Another FOI document dated 1st November the same year, Telstra folio H36293, goes even further (AS 45-A) noting: 

"All Admin groups are being inundated with complaints from customers who have advertised their numbers as 1800 but their customers are simply unable to get through to them. I have spoken to our fault staff out at Waverley who are also being inundated with the same complaints."

An even more alarming Telstra FOI document folio H36178 indicates that, even while being fully aware that they were promoting a faulty service, which would not provide the service as was adverted, Telstra continued to charge their customers for calls that they knew were not connecting correctly, where the caller reached a dead line, thought they had dialled incorrectly and hung up, but the charge still registered at the other end – on the 1800 customer’s account.  This same document actually discusses concerns: 

“…that the matter requires fixing at a National level, not just on a fault by fault basis”

and further notes that it:

“… also raises the question whether we should be actively promoting 1800 in the circumstances".

 

Telstra’s muzzling power 2

7th July 1993: Another Telstra internal email, this one FOI folio C04054 (AS 957), shows that at about this same time, a number of Labor Party Senators were becoming more and more concerned at what COT members were uncovering.

Other FOI documents show that Telstra were not reporting the truth of the situation in the early months of 1993. It is also clear from more FOI documents that it is highly likely that some newspaper journalists were approached by Telstra and asked to ‘kill’ a story about the COT problems with their phone faults. This one, entitled “Cot Wrap-Up”, states, in part:

“I advise that Clinton be targeted for some decent Telstra exclusive stories to get his mind out of the gutter. He will write a nasty piece in tomorrow’s (thursday) paper. He will certainly mention the confidentiality clauses and I fully expect a call from him at home tonight.”

It goes further to say:

"I think it should be acknowledged that 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.”

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

12th July 1993: Telstra FOI documents M34204 - M34205 (AS 18) confirm that Alan had been complaining of cut-offs on the phone after only talking for a few seconds in early January to March 1993.

This document shows that Telstra states there were 45,993 degraded minutes yet, in the 30th April 1995, Arbitration Technical Report, DMR and Lane refers to only 405 degraded minutes.  The Technical Report also claims there were only 43,500 errored seconds (ES), while the Telstra document shows 65,535.  It seems that, for some unknown reason, DMR and Lane played down the actual number of faults.

At this point it is important to raise the issue of an Arbitration Witness Statement that was sworn by a local Telstra employee, dated 12th December 1994, which Telstra used in their arbitration defence of Alan's 1994 arbitration claim. In part (2) of this Statement, Mr Stokes states: 

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

At point (8), Telstra further states: 

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

If Telstra did check the RCM regularly, as he states, why didn’t he notice that the fault alarm system had not been installed after the RCM replaced the RAX exchange in August 1991, twenty months before?  Furthermore, this Telstra technician's statement does not correlate with a report made after a visit to the Portland exchange by the Melbourne Pair Gain Support Group which states: “At this stage we had no idea over what period of time these errors had accumulated.”

If this Telstra Witness Statement is correct in that he “… checked the CRC counters pre-March 1993 and (I) did not observe any errors”, then 65535 errored seconds and 45993 degraded minutes would have had to have accumulated in the three days between 28th February and 2nd March, which is almost impossible.

Up to this period Alan had received thirty-six letters from different individuals, as well as more than forty other complaints from people who had tried, unsuccessfully, to respond to Alan's advertisements for his business. The Hadden & District Community House wrote in April 1993: 

"problems with contacting you by phone.  Several times I have dialled (my phone number) and received no response  — dead line.  I have also experienced similar problems on your 008 number. Our youth worker, experienced similar problems while organising our last year’s family camp, over a six month period during 1991/1992".

As more and more letters like this arrived in Alan's office he began to seriously consider that Telstra senior executives were hiding the true facts of the problems at the Cape Bridgewater exchange. Surely they must have been aware by now that he was not inventing the problems he was complaining about?

In Austel’s (now ACMA) secret report mentioned earlier (AS 487), they uncovered 65,535 errored seconds and 45,993 degraded minutes at the Cape Bridgewater RCM unmanned roadside exchange between 1992 and 1993.

AUSTEL’s findings for this single complaint recorded:

"Some important questions are raised by the possible existence of a cable problem affecting the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp service. Foremost of these questions is why was the test call program conducted during July and August 1992 did not lead to the discovery of the cable problem. Another important question is exactly how the cable problem would have been manifested in terms of service difficulties to the subscriber".

12th July 1993: a newspaper article from the Portland Observer Newspaper is headed ‘Network Complaints Taken Up by MPs’ (AS 825), and notes:

"Problems highlighted by Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp operator Alan Smith, with the Telecom network have been picked up on by not only other disgruntled customers but Federal politicians.

Having suffered a faulty telephone service for some five years, Mr Smith’s complaints had for some time fallen on deaf ears, but it now seems people are standing up and listening.

Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, described the number of reports of faulty and inadequate telephone across Australia as alarming.

Mr Hawker said that documents recently presented to him showed that the problems people had been experiencing Australia wide had been occurring repeatedly in the Portland region". 

  

Attempting to move on…but wait!

By June/July 1993, the public were becoming interested in what they were hearing about; The COT Cases battle - four Australians had taken on the Telstra Corporation.

At the camp in Cape Bridgewater, Alan acquired a logo especially for the over-forties singles club, and his Community Groups, which he was calling “Country Get-A-Ways”, and he hit the road with a vengeance, marketing a range of different weekend holidays. He had organised an outdoor canoe weekend, a walking and river cruise along the Glenelg River, and a Saturday Dress-up Dinner Dance with a disco, as well as a trip to the Coonawarra Wineries and a Saturday morning shopping tour to Mt Gambier, both in South Australia. This meant Alan was able to market the holiday periods in both Victoria and South Australia.

Numerous testimonials from hopeful customers trying to make a booking at Alan's venue from 1988 up to this period is already well documented in AUSTEL's report (AS 487). At point 9, 10 and 11 in their reporting AUSTEL notes:

"During the past five years Mr Smith has received many testimonials from other network users such as community groups, health and welfare agencies, school and individuals which have advise of continuing difficulties contacting the camp. These statements support Mr Smith's claims of service problems of Mr Smith.

An important point in relation to Mr Smith's service is that he is operating a business service in an area which is predominantly that of a residential and/or farming community. Therefore both the nature, volume and origin of calls received by Mr Smith is comparison with those of his neighbours would be markedly different…

Often calls to the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp would be from people previously unknown to Mr Smith, who in comparison to other callers to Cape Bridgewater would be less likely to initiate further contact should they have difficulty in contacting the Camp…"

So here it was, mid-1993, and still hardly any phone calls were getting through to Alan at the Camp.  What he couldn’t know was that less than twelve months later, AUSTEL would discover that what Alan had been telling Telstra was the truth, but that AUSTEL would hide most of those truths from the relevant Ministers, from Alan and from the arbitrator.

All Alan knew was that his business was sinking fast and so he stepped up the marketing of the camp and the singles-club weekends; he visited numerous recognised social clubs around the Melbourne metropolitan area and spoke personally to the people in charge and in fact, over the next few weeks, he spoke to the Phoenix Social Club in Camberwell, the Australian Social Centre in Hartwell, Frenze-In-Deed in Mont Albert and Capers in Knox City, as well as visiting numerous other singles organisations in Ballarat and Warrnambool, both large country centres in Victoria.

Further newspaper advertising followed, with ads placed with the Leader Newspaper group in Melbourne.  This local newspaper group covers twenty-three different metropolitan areas around Melbourne. Ads also went into the local newspapers for a number of large regional centres around Victoria and South Australia, including the Geelong Advertiser, the Warrnambool Standard, the Ballarat Courier News, the Horsham Wimmera Times, the Colac Local News, the Mt Gambier-Border Watch and others. 

But complaints about the phones continued. People had enormous trouble getting through to the camp and, although some obviously persevered, it’s impossible to know how many simply gave up trying.

12th August 1993:  This letter (AS 34 A) from Ms Elisie Espinoza from a singles club to Alan describes the constant engaged problems she experienced when trying to book a weekend during April and May 1993. Exhibit (AS 34 -B) is a Telstra FOI document K03870 dated 17th June (assume 1993) refers to the same Elisie Espinoza and her friend Rita Stenoya. This document does not only record the two personnel phone numbers of these two ladies, it also confirms Telstra was fully aware of the times Alan's office assistant left the business when Alan went to Melbourne.

Ms Espinoza writes:

"I tried to ring you in order to confirm our stay at your camp site. However when I did this I found it impossible to get through since it was engaged for several hours.  I tried to ring later but encountered the same signals, on the 10th of August around 7:30 pm to 8.30 pm.

I believe you have a problem with the exchange and strongly advise you contact Telecom.

Do you remember the same problem happened in April and May?

I apologise but I have made arrangements with another camp".

17th August 1993: this Telstra file note FOI folio K03096 (AS 35-A) is related to the Daylesford Community House (Victoria) and explains how the line was continually dead when they rang Alan's 1800 number four times on 17th August 1993. And how, even so, Alan was charged for these four calls, all in the space of a single twenty-eight-second period (AS 35-B). 

Since the malicious-call tracing equipment (which locked the line up for 90 seconds) was not removed from Alan's phone line until 18th August 1993 (AS 23-E), how could the Community House have been connected four times in such a short period of time?  It is clear from other FOI documents, and has been supported by Telstra technical consultants, that no call could have connected under these circumstances at any time between 26th May and 19th August 1993, while the call tracing equipment was still connected. So, where were these calls diverted to?

The group from the Daylesford Neighbourhood House finally arrived for their holiday in January 1994. Later, two letters arrived from members of this group complaining that my customer coin-operated gold phone service, provided on our property, was most unsatisfactory. They wrote that the phone was taking money ‘under false pretences’ and not connecting long enough for the caller to properly complete their calls. Both wrote that the line ‘went dead’ and they both supplied their names and addresses (AS 35-C)

  

Misleading and Deceptive Conduct

During this period Ann Garms, Graham Schorer, and Alan met with Senator Richard Alston, Shadow Minister for Communications, in his St Kilda Road (Melbourne) office, to discuss their ongoing communication problems, Telstra’s misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to those services and, in Alan’s case, the way Telstra had deliberately misled and deceived him during his December 1992 settlement process.

In the years to come, the COTs found Senator Alston to usually be quite stony-faced when discussing such matters, but this time when Alan showed him some of the documents he had found during the briefcase saga, the Senator changed his position and was not only showing empathy for Alan’s situation, but was clearly quite angry about Telstra’s behaviour during Alan’s December 1992 settlement.

Graham then tabled another document that showed how Telstra had knowingly sold him faulty equipment, even though both Telstra and the manufacturers, Phillips, had known it was faulty for at least six months before they had installed it at Graham’s business (Golden Messenger).

Senator Alston was then quite clear as he explained that, while he believed that Telstra technicians and senior management could perhaps be excused for making occasional mistakes in such a large corporation, for them to knowingly deceive Australian citizens so deliberately could not be excused.

Alan and Graham were then advised that if Telstra did not address this misleading and deceptive conduct in a manner befitting a government-owned corporation, then ‘heads would fly’ and Senator Alston was adamant that he would raise these issues with Robin Davey, Chairman of AUSTEL.

2nd September 1993:  Senate Estimates Committee (Hansard) – When Senator Richard Alston, Shadow Minister for Communications, and the then Minister for Communications, Senator Bob Collins, questioned Mr Robin Davey, AUSTEL Chairman, regarding this matter it was clear that Mr Davey had confirmed that, if AUSTELS’s COT investigations found deliberate ‘misleading and deceptive conduct as distinct from sheer incompetence’ by Telstra towards the COT claimants, then AUSTEL would pass the matter on to the Trade Practice Commission. Mr Davey stated to Senator Collins (AS 736)

"We have legal advice which I am quite prepared to make available to you, Senator – I apologise that I have not got a copy with me at the moment – to the effect that, if we were to find misleading and deceptive conduct, as distinct from sheer incompetence, then we could direct Telecom to engage in an assessment process to assess the quantum. Having assessed the quantum, we do not have the power to enforce the quantum, but I am sure that at that point that would not be necessary. I think there would be such a moral persuasion at that point".

In AUSTEL’S report secret draft (AS 487) against Telstra in relation to Alan, which AUSTEL provided to Telstra in March 1994 during the COT arbitrations (see [P-7] (AS 495), showed that AUSTEL did find Telstra had deliberately misled and deceived both claimants. So why did the Government Regulator conceal this information from the arbitrator?

At point 5.10, in the arbitrator’s award in Alan’s case he notes:

The AUSTEL formal report notes a number of instances of misleading conduct by Telecom of the nature described by the claimant, but not specific to the claimant as indicated earlier, the claimant has not articulated the legal bases for his claim, nor did I expect him to do so. Had he done so, however, he may well have alleged some instances of misleading conduct by Telecom of the nature set out in the AUSTEL report. (AS 487)

It seems that Senator Alston’s letter to Mr Davey has answered the two questions raised by Alan above, i.e.

  1. Why did AUSTEL’s final report not state publicly that Alan’s phone problems were still ongoing, and
  2. Why did that same report not declare specifically which COT cases Telstra had mislead and deceived?

If AUSTEL had included those more adverse findings against Telstra in their formal report, this would have immediately led Senator Alston to call for a Senate Select Committee investigation into these matters, on behalf of the then-opposition party. It is therefore clear, that the formal AUSTEL COT Cases report that was used as evidence in the COT arbitrations was tainted, ‘got-at’ or ‘cleansed’ well before the COT Cases received their copies.

7th September 1993:  This letter from Robin Davey, Chairman of AUSTEL, to Jim Holmes, Telstra’s Corporate Secretary (AS 835), confirms that even when legitimate testing was carried out on the phone lines of the COT claimants (see also AUSTEL’s reference to the poor testing regime by Telstra in their report) shows Telstra’s testing equipment connected to Alan’s service lines caused additional problems. In fact, all the various types of testing equipment that was installed on Alan’s service lines appeared to have created extra problems, suggesting that at least some of the problems experienced by Telstra’s Peter Gamble and his Melbourne counterparts, during Telstra’s 29th September 1994, Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp Service Verification Testing (SVT) could have been caused by Telstra’s faulty SVT equipment.

AUSTEL did not take exhibit (AS 835) into consideration when they allowed Telstra to submit known flawed Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp (SVT) results as arbitration defence documents, even though the letter’s author, AUSTEL’s Chairman Robin Davey clearly states in it’s second paragraph:

“Your ‘two bob each way’ letter of 31 August 1993 outlining how Telecom is to monitor the COT Cases’ services in response to AUSTEL’s direction of 12 August does little to inspire confidence in Telecom’s approach to the issue.

The offer to provide…(specific testing)…might be interpreted as nothing more than an attempt to lay a foundation for disowning the tests if they appear to support the COT Cases.”

Point 5.32 on page 91 of the AUSTEL COT Cases Report notes:

"Its omission as far as the initial ‘settlement’ of the original COT Cases were concerned meant that there was continued dissatisfaction with the service provided without any steps being taken to rectify it. This inevitably led to dissatisfaction with the initial ‘settlement’ and to further demands for compensation. To avoid this sort of problem in the future, AUSTEL is, in consultation with Telecom, developing –

a standard of service against which Telecom’s performance may be effectively measured

a relevant service quality verification test".

 

Legal Professional Privilege

During September 1993, Telstra announced they would not address anymore of Alan's telephone complaints unless he first registered them in writing with their external lawyer, Denise McBurnie, of Freehill Holligdale & Page. Unfortunately, Alan didn’t realise that Telstra thought this process would mean that all technical documents connected to any complaints Alan registered with Ms McBurnie would then, as far as Telstra was concerned, be classified under Legal Professional Privilege (LPP).

10 September 1993: this Telstra FOI document folio N00749 to N00760, from Denise McBurnie of Freehill Hollingdale & Page to Ian Row, Telstra’s Corporate Solicitor, relates to strategies that were about to be used in dealing with the COT cases. Folio N00749 is the first page of this strategy (AS 923) noting: 

"Both Freehill’s and Duesbury’s would be happy to assist you should any further presentations to Telecom management be required on any of the matters raised in the issues paper or with regard to any other matters concerning management of “COT” cases and customer complaints."

This document is important because Ms McBurnie names Duesbury's as assisting Freehill's in this matter, and Duesbury's was also involved with the employment of private investigators (paid by Telstra) in relation to Graham Schorer, and possibly other COT claimants.

It is clear from folio N00750 that Ms McBurnie has singled out four of the COT Cases businesses: Golden Messenger, Tivoli Theatre Restaurant, Japanese Spare Parts and the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp, in which Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) was to be used to conceal documents from those four cases (AS 923), as they state these claimants:

…high level of understanding (acquired by experience) with FOI procedures and the procedures involved in accessing Telecom documentary information.”

appeared to be perhaps threaten their misleading ways.

In June 2000, renowned Legal Professional Privilege expert, Associate Professor Suzanne McNicoll, provided the COT claimants (AS 924) with the following legal opinion regarding the Freehill's ‘COT Case Strategy’ i.e.

"There is also some potential prima facie evidence of (4) i.e. knowingly making false or spurious claims to privilege. For example, there is potential structure set up for the possible abuse of the doctrine of legal professional privilege in the faxed document entitled “COT” Case Strategy, marked “Confidential” dated 10 September 1993 from Ms Denise McBurnie of Freehill Hollingdale and Page, Melbourne Office to Mr Ian Row, Corporate Solicitor, Telecom Australia.”

Telstra FOI document folio P03022 (AS 925) is an internal email dated 23 September noting:

"In the current climate Telecom needs to be particularly careful with its correspondence to the CoT customers. I have engaged Denise McBurnie from Freehills to participate on an “as required” basis in this matter and it is appropriate that all correspondence from the CoT (and near CoT) customers should be channelled through Denise for either drafting of the reply from Telecom or for the reply direct from Freehills as our agent.

It goes on to say:

'Would you please ensure that with all customers that are, (or have the potential to become) serious complaints, correspondence is processed through Freehills with initial acknowledgement by the Region."

As already mentioned on page 21, under chapter ‘Short duration and 1800 call problems,’ Telstra already knew of these existing problems, but continued to conceal them and continued to incorrectly charge their customers for calls that were never received.

5th October 1993: Robin Davey, AUSTEL’s Chairman provides a draft of the agreement to be used in the four COT Cases, for Graham Schorer (Golden Messenger), Ann Garms (Tivoli Theatre Restaurant), Maureen Gillan (Japanese Spare Parts) and Alan Smith (Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp), Fast Track Settlement Proposal to Telstra’s Ian Campbell, Managing Director, Commercial  (AS 927) noting:

"Finally, if the attached letter (Attachment 'D') dated 7 July 1993 from Freehill Hollingdale & Page to one of the COT Cases’ solicitors is indicative of the way that Freehill, Holingdale & Page have approached the COT Cases in the past, I would be more than a little concerned if they were to have a continuing role."

It is important to note that during the first week of January 1994, the COTs advised Warwick Smith, the TIO, who was also the administrator of both the Fast Track Settlement Proposal (FTSP) and the Fast Track Arbitration Procedure (FTAP), that AUSTEL’s Chairman, Robin Davey, had also assured the COTs that Freehill’s would no longer be involved in their Fast Track Settlement Proposal. An internal Telstra email (FOI folio C02840) from Greg Newbold to various Telstra executives (AS 928) notes:

"Steve Lewis (Australian Financial Review news reporter) is following up on his own yarn NOT with the Davey letter to the minister but with the Davey letter to the CEO raising concerns about our use of Freehills."

Later, between January and March 1994, when the COTs again spoke to Warwick Smith concerned that Telstra had now appointed Freehills as their FTAP defence lawyers, the TIO’s response was that it was up to Telstra who they appointed as their arbitration lawyers, even though Alan also advised the TIO, in March 1994, that he was still having to register his phone complaints through Freehills and had still not been provided with any of the technical data to support Freehill’s assertions that there was nothing wrong with his telephone/fax service. This was a grave conflict of interest situation.

During and after Alan's arbitration he raised his concerns that the arbitrator had not addressed Freehill’s submission of Telstra witness statements that had only been signed by Freehills and not by those who were actually making the statements. Nothing was transparently done to assist Alan in this matter other than to send this witness statement back to be signed by the alleged author making the statement.

Alan’s appeal lawyer (Law Partners of Melbourne) was not only staggered to learn about this witness statement issue, but was also staggered to learn that none of the arbitration fault correspondence that had been exchanged between Freehills, Telstra and Alan was ever provided to Alan as it should have been according to the rules of discovery. In fact, Alan’s lawyer suggested that perhaps Telstra had originally appointed Freehills to be Alan’s designated fault complaint managers so that any of that correspondence would form what Telstra believed to be a legal bridge, so that Alan’s ongoing telephone fault evidence could be concealed under Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) during his arbitration.

Telstra’s continued use of Freehills throughout the COT arbitrations and the arbitrator’s refusal, in Alan’s case, to look into why Telstra was withholding technical data under LPP, suggested, at the time, that the arbitrator was not properly qualified as he didn’t seem to understand that Telstra could not legally conceal technical information under LPP.

As this story reveals, Dr Hughes was, in fact, not a graded arbitrator at all, and was not registered as an arbitrator with the arbitrator’s umbrella organisation, then called the Institute of Arbitrators Australia.  

19th October 1993: This document from Denise McBurnie (Freehill's) to Telstra's Don Pinel titled Legal Professional Privilege In Confidence FOI folio A06796:  includes the following statements:

"Duesbury & FHP continuing of evaluating (blank) claim - final report to Telecom will be privileged and will not be made available to (blank).

Telecom preparing report for FHP analysing data available on (blank) services ie. (CCAS, Leopard, CABS and file notes) – this report will be privileged and will not be made available to (blank)." (AS 930)

In other words, Telstra FOI documents (folio R00524 and A06796) confirm Telstra were already hiding technical information from the COT claimants under Legal Professional Privilege. It is important to note here that Telstra had directed Alan to register his 'ongoing' telephone faults, in writing, to Denise McBurnie of Freehills in order to have those issues addressed. Alan found this not just time consuming, but also very frustrating, because by the time he received a response to one complaint he already had further complaints to register. It wasn’t until Graham and Alan entered the arbitration process that it appeared as though Telstra were using Freehills’ Legal Professional Privilege strategy to hide numerous important technical documents from the claimants, including the very same 008/1800 fault complaints that Alan had registered through Freehills, according to Telstra’s directions.

 

29th October 1993: this Telstra FOI document folio K01489 Exhibit (AS 767-A) notes

"During testing the Mitsubishi fax machine, some alarming patterns of behaviour were noted, these affecting both transmission and reception. Even on calls that were not tampered with the fax machine displayed signs of locking up and behaving in a manner not in accordance with the relevant CCITT Group 3 fax rules."

The hand-written note in the bottom right corner of Exhibit AS 767-B, which states: “Stored in Fax Stream?” suggests that faxes intercepted via Telstra’s testing process are stored in Telstra's Fax Stream service centre so the document can be read, at any time, by anyone with access to Telstra’s fax stream centre. The Scandrett & Associates report proves that numerous COT arbitration documentation was definitely intercepted, including faxes travelling to and from Parliament House, the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office (COO) and the COTs and, in Alan Smith’s case at least, that this interception continued for seven years after his arbitration was over. This means, in turn, that Telstra had free access to in-confidence documents that the claimants believed they were sending ONLY to their accountants, lawyers and/or technical advisors (as well as Parliament House and the COO), and those documents could well have included information that the claimants might not have wanted disclosed to the defendants at the time.

  

Coopers & Lybrand Report

Towards the end of 1993 Telstra commissioned an international audit company, Coopers and Lybrand, to report on Telstra’s fault handling procedures, particularly in relation to complaints like those raised by the members of COT. In a letter dated 17 September 1993 (AS 1010) to AUSTEL’s Chairman, Mr Robin Davey, the then-Shadow Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, wrote:

"Finally I note that Telecom propose to engage one of the "Big Five" accounting firms to audit its handling of the COT cases with Austel merely having unspecified access to the consultants and its output.

If such an audit is to have any legitimacy it is essential that it should be commissioned and paid for by Austel. To allow one party to litigation to select and pay - undoubtedly generously - for the judge would not be tolerated in any judicial proceedings. It should not be tolerated here."

Regardless of the concerns expressed by various government ministers, including Senator Alston, it was Telstra alone who paid Coopers & Lybrand and Bell Canada International Inc. to carry out that work. Then, in the case of the COT arbitrations, Telstra paid for the arbitrator and the arbitrator’s helpers who were then also exonerated from all liability for anything untoward that they might be involved in.

Senator Alston’s objections to Telstra being allowed to pay for both the Coopers & Lybrand audit of Telstra systems and the Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) audit of the main COT claims, and the telephone exchanges that the COT businesses were connected to, was particularly alarming because, as is now known, both those reports were not only orchestrated by Telstra, but were orchestrated by AUSTEL too, as their April 1994 ‘COT Cases Report’ clearly shows. (Note: these Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) tests are discussed in the next chapter)

This is even more alarming because, although all this auditing was carried out on behalf of the Government Regulator, Telstra was still able to manipulate the results by hiding any findings that went against them, whether those findings were reported by Coopers & Lybrand or BCI, and they accomplished this with even more manipulation, this time by using various exemptions in the FOI Act, such as Legal Professional Privilege (LPP) or adverse findings against Telstra marked as (ADV), as (AS 1015, 1016, 1017, 1018 and AS 1019) so clearly show.

A further alarming aspect of Telstra’s interference in the official auditing process is that any adverse findings could also be deliberately omitted from the formal Coopers and BCI reports that AUSTEL and the TIO had already agreed would be provided to the COT arbitrator. This meant that the arbitrator would never know what it was that Coopers and BCI found wrong with Telstra’s processes.

Since Alan has since proved that both the Coopers & Lybrand and BCI reports were fundamentally flawed and exhibits (AS 1015, 1016, 1017, 1018 and AS 1019) show that not all the adverse findings against Telstra have been revealed – even now – how then can the present Coalition Government condone the behaviour that led to the arbitrator not only accepting two thoroughly flawed reports as arbitration evidence, but then basing his final decisions, in part at least, on those flawed reports? 

How can the results of the COT arbitrations still stand, as they have for the last twenty years, when it has been obvious for some time that these were not the only findings against Telstra that Telstra has kept hidden, and that some of those hidden findings included technical documents that were falsified so the arbitrator would not uncover the truth about Telstra’s failing telecommunications network? How could Telstra get away with manipulating the law as it stood back then, in 1994, without even being asked to explain what really went on during the COT arbitrations?

It is important to note that when Coopers & Lybrand investigator, Robert Nason, and his secretary, Sue Hurley, met with Alan at his Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp on 13 October 1993, Alan supplied them with evidence supporting his claims that Telstra had knowingly misled and deceived Alan during his 11 December 1992 settlement. Alan explained that two technicians visited Alan's businesses on 3 June 1993 to investigate his continuing complaints regarding his phone service and inadvertently left behind a briefcase. When Robert Nason and Sue Hurley saw this evidence they were shocked and likewise convinced that Telstra had clearly disadvantaged Alan's previous settlement claim.

A letter dated 3 November 1993 to Mr Robert Nason, (Coopers & Lybrand) from the Hon Senator Richard Alston, Shadow Minister for Communications (AS 938) notes:

"I have at last received a copy of your terms of reference and these make it clear that the review requires Coopers & Lybrand to "conduct an independent audit of (the) adequacy, reasonableness and fairness (of) Telecom's approach to Difficult Network Faults reported by customers over the last 5 years".

The review also explicitly requires Coopers & Lybrand recommendations to take "into account Telecom's legal obligations".

Despite the clear nature of these terms of reference I am disturbed to learn from several COT members that your review will not deal with questions of misleading and deceptive conduct".

While the final public Coopers & Lybrand report is almost identical in regards to Telstra's previous settlements with the COT Cases at point 2.20 to that as shown in their draft at point 2.20, it is important we highlight one particular variation

Draft

"We have found evidence that an inappropriate use of legal representation and aggressive tactics were used in negotiating settlements and attempting to develop a resolution process." (AS 939)

Final

"We believe that in some cases an inappropriate use of legal representation and aggressive tactics were used in negotiating settlements and attempting to develop a resolution process’s" (AS 940)

Alan has always been convinced that the segment referred to in the Coopers & Lybrand draft "have found evidence" was the same evidence Alan provided Robert Nason and Sue Hurley during their visit to Alan's business on 13 October 1993 which shocked them and left them both speechless. At point 3.5, 3.6 and 3.7 Nason clearly articulates he placed the Bell Canada International Inc Report, Coopers & Lybrand Report and the AUSTEL COT Cases Report into evidence.

Had Dr Hughes been provided the true findings in this case, those of Coopers & Lybrand as well as AUSTEL's secret findings on this settlement issue, as arbitrator he would have had to find against Telstra regarding these settlement issues instead of finding in favour of Telstra.

Although Senator Ron Boswell’s questions on notice were put to the Senate Estimate Committee Hearing in December 1993, they are most relevant to this date line, mostly because of the question that the Senator put directly to Telstra (AS 1030), i.e.: 

“In the review by Coopers and Lybrand of Telecom’s difficult network fault, policies and procedures will the terms of reference allow Coopers and Lybrand to examine the issues of misleading and deceptive conduct of Telstra?”

Telstra then replied:

“...Telecom does not accept that it has been involved in such conduct” and “Should allegations of such conduct arise in the course of C&L investigations, Telstra would expect C&L to have proper regard to such allegations on the conduct of its work” and “Telstra would also expect C& L to address any such allegations in its reports” (AS 1230). 

When Coopers & Lybrand later presented their draft report, it did include the suggestion that Telstra may have been party to misleading and deceptive conduct, but all those references were removed from the final version. The final version also excluded any references to a letter that Graham wrote to Robert Nason (a partner at Coopers & Lybrand) confirming that Telstra had knowingly sold faulty equipment to him, nor did it refer to the evidence that Alan also provided to Mr Nason supporting Alan and Graham’s belief that Telstra had knowingly misled and deceived them, nor did it include the evidence that Alan had found in the briefcase and also passed on to Mr Nason.

Perhaps this conduct was not disclosed, because it is directly related to the threats recorded in Telstra’s internal memo of 9th November, from the Group Managing Director of Telstra Mr Doug Campbell to Telstra's General Manager of Commercial Mr Ian Campbell (AS 942), saying: 

"I believe that it should be pointed out to Coopers and Lybrand that unless this report is withdrawn and revised, their future in relation to Telecom may be irreparably damaged."

These are strong words from the most senior manager below the CEO of the largest telecommunications corporation in the country; a corporation that, at the time, had a monopoly hold on the industry in Australia.

Although the draft and final versions of the Coopers & Lybrand reports are not exactly complimentary of Telstra’s handling of COT matters, anyone reading them would not notice that by simply changing a word here and a phrase there, Coopers & Lybrand altered the draft so that the final version did not reveal what they really uncovered. For example, in paragraph 15 of the draft it is noted (AS 943) that:

"Telecom should satisfy itself that the customer premises equipment complies with Austel's technical specification or seek assurances from the customer that this is the case to ensure that the services supplied by Telecom are fit for purpose under the 1974 Trade Practices Act."

In the same section of the final version (AS 944) however, there is no mention of ensuring they that “…the services supplied by Telecom are fit for purpose under the 1974 Trade Practices Act.

The draft report, at point 23 under ‘Other Recommendations’, notes (AS 945) that:

 "Fitness for Purpose: Telecom needs to issue, inter alia, instructions to sales, installation, maintenance, fault investigation and repair involved with PSTS and/or CPE work that checks must be made to ensure the PSTS will meet or continue to meet the "fitness for purpose" requirements of the 1974 Trade Practices Act for the circumstances they are dealing with."

In the final version Coopers & Lybrand have again left out the major issue of the service provided being ‘fit for purpose’ according to the1974 Trade Practices Act (AS 946), the very issues that AUSTEL advised the Government would be addressed by Telstra in a commercial settlement process, with no need for an arbitration if it was proved that Telstra had acted outside of the 1974 Trade Practice Act. But once again, here we have the arbitrator accepting the Coopers & Lybrand report, even though it did not include any reference to what Telstra should be doing according to the Trade Practice Act. 

Robert Nason has now been a senior executive in the Telstra Corporation for some time, including holding the position of Group Managing Director, Business Support and Improvement in 2014. In 2013 he was also appointed as Chairman of Foxtel, but before that, back in June 2010, Alan provided Mr Nason with a condensed draft version of this story and most of the Exhibits it refers to, in the hope that he could facilitate a resolution to Alan’s matters. Mr Nason has never responded.

However, Sue Laver, Telstra's General Counsel did write instead, noting:

I refer to your letter dated 1 June 2010 addressed to Robert Nason, Group Managing Director of Corporate Strategy & Customer Experience.

"Your claims were resolved pursuant to the arbitral award dated 11 May 1995. Over the thirteen years since the award, you have repeatedly sought to have your complaint re-opened. Telstra does not propose any further review of your claims or to respond to any further correspondence from you".

Impracticable Cape Bridgewater Bell Canada International Inc (BCI) tests

Cape Bridgewater’s local Member of Parliament for the Liberal Coalition, on 9th December 1993 wrote to congratulate Alan for his 'persistence to bring about improvements to Telstra’s country services' and went on to say that he regretted 'that it was at such a high personal cost' and the then-Minister for Communications, Hon David Beddall, in the then Labor Government, also wrote, saying:

"Let me say that the Government is most concerned at allegations that Telstra 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".

The Shadow Minister for Communications (who later went on to become the Minister for Communications), and the National Party Senator, the Hon Ron Boswell, were pushing hard for a Senate Inquiry at this time. Senate Hansard records (the daily verbatim printed reports of Australian parliamentary debates) show that these Senators were assured by Telstra that the four main COT members would have their claims assessed commercially, in a specially designed, non-legalistic settlement proposal, to be called the Fast Track Settlement Proposal (FTSP). 

The decision for this FTSP was reached because all four main members of COT, Maureen Gillen, Ann Garms, Graham Schorer and Alan Smith, had suffered considerable consequential and resultant losses due to their many years of ongoing attempts to bring the matters to the attention of the Government. And because of their ongoing attempts and constant work aimed at finding natural justice through Telstra, on top of the losses caused directly by faulty phones.

With the sanction of the then-Labor Government, the Regulator arranged for an international expert to be brought to Australia to have a look at the exchanges and network that serviced the COT cases businesses. Bell Canada International Inc (BCI), technical telecommunications specialists from Ottawa, Canada, duly arrived to run tests on the network that serviced the cases. In Alan's case, these tests were allegedly carried out on the Cape Bridgewater network between 4th and 9th November 1993.

At the conclusion of these tests, BCI produced a report. Unfortunately, this report was not acceptable to the Australian Regulator since the BCI technicians had not tested the actual line between Alan's business and the nearest connection to the local exchange (called the Customer Access Network, or CAN). FOI documents numbered A00404 to A00407 (AS BCI 21) show that Telstra’s Commercial General Manager for Australia responded by letter to the Regulator on 15th December 1993, saying: 

"The conclusion to be reasonably made from these events is that AUSTEL publicly judges the BCI report “fails to live up to the expectations raised by the terms of reference.

Reasonable inferences might be drawn about deficiencies in the competence, professional standing and integrity of BCI, and the competence and integrity of Telstra and myself in the conduct of the study and representation of the findings."

In this letter, Telstra goes on to discuss the COT Settlement Proposal (FTSP), saying: 

"Considering the above circumstances, Telstra cannot agree to attach a copy of the Regulator’s letter of 9 December to the BCI report if the latter is made available to the assessors nominated for the COT cases".

A hand-written note at the bottom of the last page of this letter states:  'There is a multitude of inaccuracies'.  This note is linked by an arrow to a reference to a letter dated 9th December 1993, from the Regulator to Telstra (AS-002 BCI 20-A).  Some years after Alan's arbitration he received a copy of this 9th December letter, under FOI (numbered K47052 to K47054).  The summary, at the end of this letter, stated: 

"Having regard to the above, I am of the opinion that the BCI report should not be made available to the Assessor(s) nominated for the COT cases without a copy of this letter being attached to it."

It is quite clear, however, from information Alan received in response to his FOI request of 18th October 1995, that Telstra did not supply a copy of the Regulator’s letter to the arbitrator in Alan's case, or anyone else’s in the arbitration process.

If the full story of the Cape Bridgewater/BCI report (see AS-001 BCI Report and AS-002 BCI Exhibits 1 to 46) was to be properly investigated now, the investigators would be shocked to discover that some of Australia’s so called ‘most respected citizens’ closed ranks in a combined effort to discredit Alan’s BCI claims and hide the true extent of Telstra’s efforts to stop a full Senate Estimates Committee enquiry into their false reporting regarding the Cape Bridgewater/BCI tests (AS-002 BCI 1 to 46)

Both Dr Hughes’ award regarding Alan’s phone problems and the findings of the TIO-appointed technical consultants, DMR & Lane, verify that they did not assess and/or investigate any of the ongoing phone billing problems that Alan claimed to continue after the November 1993 Cape Bridgewater / Bell Canada International tests. This leaves very little doubt that both Dr Hughes and DMR & Lane believed the findings in the BCI report that stated that the Cape Bridgewater RCM was fault-free after the BCI investigations had been completed.

  

Protect This Information As Confidential

10th November 1993: Details of information disclosed by Warwick Smith is given in Telstra FOI document folio A05993. This was not made available to Alan prior to signing the FTSP. It is marked CONFIDENTIAL Subject – Warwick Smith – COT Cases. This Telstra email is addressed to Telstra’s Corporate Secretary Jim Holmes, copied to Frank Blount Telstra’s CEO, author Chris Vonwilla states (AS 931)

"Warwick Smith contacted me in confidence to brief me on discussions he had in the last two days with a senior member of the parliamentary National Party in relation to Senator Boswell’s call for a Senate Inquiry into COT Cases.

Advice from Warwick is:

He has undertaken to keep me informed, and confirmed his view that Senator Alston will not be pressing a Senate Inquiry, at least until after the AUSTEL report is tabled

Could you please protect this information as confidential."

It could be said that the advice Warwick Smith gave to Telstra’s Chris Vonwiller, in confidence, (that the Coalition Party was not keen on holding a Senate enquiry) could have later prompted Telstra to have the FTSP non-legalistic commercial assessment process turned into Telstra’s more preferred legalistic arbitration procedure, because they now had in-side Government privileged information there was no longer a threat of a Senate enquiry. Chris Vonwiller and Jim Holmes were both members of the TIO Board when this email went into circulation.

Two months after Warwick Smith provided Chris Vonwiller with his Government privileged information, he received advice on the 11th January 1994, from Telstra’s arbitration COT liaison officer, Steve Black (AS 932) noting:

 

"It was agreed at a meeting between Mr Graeme Ward and Mr Steve Black of Telecom and Dr Bob Horton and Mr Neil Tuckwell of AUSTEL on 7 January 1994 that:

The Acting Chairman of AUSTEL (now ACMA), Dr Bob Horton, also received a similar letter from Telstra's Paul Rizzio Finance & Administration (AS 933) noting:

         "To this end I wish to confirm the agreement reached between Mr Graeme Ward and Mr Steve Black in a meeting with you and Mr Neil Tuckwell today that:

What these two letters show is that there were two meetings between the TIO Telstra and AUSTEL; one on 7th of January and the other on the 11th, agreeing to the same issue: allowing the TIO office to scrutinise what documents reached the COT arbitration process, and which would be concealed from the arbitrator.

When these two letters are read in conjunction with the 11 July 1994 letters (AS 934) it is quite clear that the TIO (the administrator to the arbitrations) and Telstra began their collusion prior to 11 July 1994, regarding what documents would reach the arbitration process. (AS 934) from Telstra’s Steve Black to Warwick Smith (TIO) notes:

   "Telecom will also make available to the arbitrator a summarised list of information which is available, some of which may be relevant to the arbitration. This information will be available for the resource unit to peruse. If the resource unit forms the view that this information should be provided to the arbitrator, then Telecom would accede to this request."

The statement: “… if the resource unit forms the view that this information should be provided to the arbitrator,” confirms that, during the very early part of the arbitration process, it was secretly planned that the Resource Unit would have the power to decide which documents would reach the arbitration process and which would be withheld.

The TIO, the arbitrator, the TIO Board and the TIO Counsel must all have known about this secret vetting of documents and destroying of evidence, just as they must have known that Telstra was not abiding by the process that had been formally agreed upon, in relation to the first four COT arbitrations, because none of the four were receiving the documents they needed to support their claims. This was the promise made by the TIO and the arbitrator in an effort to convince the COTs to abandon the original commercial assessment process and sign, instead, for the Fast Track Arbitration Procedure.

 

Issues continue

1st November 1993, this Telstra internal email from Peter Zeagers to Nigel Beaman: FOI folio H36293 (AS 36) notes:

"All admin groups are being inundated with complaints from customers who have advertised their numbers as 1800 but their customers are simply unable to get through to them. I have spoken to our fault staff at Waverley who are also inundated with same complaints”.

3rd November 1993: this Telstra FOI document, folio C00757 (AS 6), appears to explain why Alan had lost so much business; apparently he had ceased trading but had not known it at the time, as this internal Telstra memo so clearly notes:

“As a result of the investigations into difficult customer complaints and associated reports it has become apparent that the present Recorded Voice Announcement (RVA) for incorrect numbers requires revision. The RVA in question is worded:

‘The number you have called is not connected or has been changed. Please check the number before calling again.’

Document AS 6 then goes on to say:

“...this message tends to give the caller the impression that the business they are calling has ceased trading, and they should try another trader.” 

In other words, because Alan’s 008/1800 freecall service line worked through his 055 267 267 line, he was losing bookings from both the businesses that used his main 055 276 267 phone number, i.e. general school and social club bookings, but he was also losing bookings from singles club patrons who mostly used his 1800/freecall number.

The next internal Telstra RVA email (FOI folio A03544) and (AS 6) further stated:

“I am sure when we start to scratch around we will find a host of network circumstances where inappropriate RVAs are going to line.”

5th November 1993: Telstra Internal Memo H36178. Telstra’s Greg Newbold, Group Communications Manager, alerts Harvey Parker, Group Managing Director – Commercial and Consumer, about the short duration post dialling delays affecting Telstra’s 1800 customers:

"Bruce is concerned that the matter requires fixing at a national network level not just on a fault by fault basis. He also raises the question whether we should be actively promoting 1800 in the current circumstances." (AS 45 B)

10th November 1993:  This letter to Alan from D. Madden & Co (Lawyers) from Warrnambool (Victoria) notes:

"I am writing in reference to the proposed Senate committee investigation into Telecom.

As you are aware, I am employed as telephonist with a large legal firm in Warrnambool. In the course of my employment, and particularly during the months of July and August this year, numerous service faults have been brought to my attention." (AS 1011).

 

Fast Track Settlement Proposal

As a result of their own investigation, the Regulator had come to the conclusion that there were problems in the Telstra Network and that the COT four had been diligent in bringing these issues into the public domain. It looked like four Australian citizens, without any financial backing (and now all close to being bankrupt) had won a significant battle.

Because they were all in such difficult financial positions due to their phone services not being up to network standard, and because they had certainly proved their phones were still not working properly, the Chairman of the Regulator pressured Telstra into appointing a commercial loss assessor to arrive at a value for their claims against Telstra. This was to be the non-legal Fast Track Settlement Proposal (FTSP), and it was to be set up so the COT four would have prompt and speedy access to any discovery documents they might need to enable them to complete their claims as quickly as possible.

Telstra agreed to rectify any on-going phone faults before the assessor handed down any decision regarding payouts. After all, what good would a commercial settlement be if the phone faults continued? Again, the COTs’ spirits rose and they began to feel they were getting somewhere at last. They had discussions with the Regulator’s Chairman and he verbally assured them that any preparation costs they might incur would be considered as part of their losses, so long as they proved their claims.

18th November 1993:  This same Chairman would not confirm this assurance in writing because, he explained, it could set a precedent. Telstra’s Corporate Secretary had written to him on 18th November 1993 (FOI document number R10799), pointing out that:

“…only the COT four are to be commercially assessed by an assessor. For the sake of convenience I have enclosed an amended copy of the Fast Track Proposal, which includes all amendments.

To facilitate its acceptance by all or any of the COT members I have signed it on behalf of the company.  Please note that the offer of settlement by this means is open for acceptance until 5 pm Tuesday 23 November 1993 at which time it will lapse and be replaced by the arbitration process we expect to apply to all carriers following the Regulator’s recommendations flowing from this and other reviews.”

23rd November 1993: Graham Schorer, Ann Garms, Maureen Gillan and Alan Smith signed the FTSP, trusting in the Regulator’s verbal assurances that consequential losses would be included. These signed FTSP agreements were forwarded to Telstra’s corporate secretary. Alan included a letter with his agreement, clearly putting his expectations of the process: 

“In signing and returning this proposal to you I am relying on the assurances of …, Chairman of the Regulator, and …, General Manager of the Regulator’s Consumer Affairs Department, that this is a fair document.  I was disappointed that … was unwilling to put his assurances in writing, but am nevertheless prepared to accept what he said.

I would not sign this agreement if I thought it prevented me from continuing my efforts to have a satisfactory service for my business.  It is a clear understanding that nothing in this agreement prevents me from continuing to seek a satisfactory telephone service.”

The four COT members felt some sense of achievement, although Maureen’s health was beginning to fail. The pressure on all four of them had been immense, with TV and newspaper interviews as well as their continuing canvassing of the Senate. The stress was telling by now, but Alan continued to fight for a change in rural telephone services.

The Hon David Hawker MP, Bridgewater’s local Federal Member of Parliament had been corresponding with Alan since 26th July 1993 (AS 1013).

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

It goes on to say…

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

and on 18th August 1993 (AS 1014):

"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."

25th November 1993: Page two of this Telstra internal (AS 46-A) letter states:

"The following is an assessment of the individual disputes highlighted by Mr Smith. From the information given, little more can be offered for explanation than, ‘This is not the way it should work, we need to investigate to find cause.’

It goes on to point out:

  1. Calls to Traralgon, being charged on busy. “This situation should not have occurred.

And further states:

  1. Calls to RVA, “…being charged for RVA is not correct operation.”

30th November 1993:  This Telstra internal memo FOI document folio D01248, from Ted Benjamin, Telstra’s Group Manager – Customer Affairs and TIO Council Member writes to Ian Campbell, Customer Projects Executive Office. Subject: TIO AND COT. This was written seven days after Alan had signed the TIO-administered Fast Track Settlement Proposal (FTSP). In this memo Mr Benjamin states:

            "At today’s Council Meeting the TIO reported on his involvement with the COT settlement processes. It was agreed that any financial contributions made by Telecom to the Cot arbitration process was not a matter for Council but was a private matter between Telecom, AUSTEL and the TIO.

I hope you agree with this."

This shows that Telstra was partly or wholly funding the arbitration process.

If the process had been truly transparent then the claimants would have been provided with information regarding the funds – specifically, the amounts provided to the arbitrator, arbitrators resource unit, TIO and TIO special counsel for their individual professional advice throughout four COT arbitrations.

It is still not known how the arbitrator billed Telstra for his professional fees or how the TIO billed Telstra for his fees, and those of the TIO-appointed resource unit and special counsel. This raises the questions:

Without knowing how these payments were distributed by the defendants to the parties involved in the first four arbitrations, it would be impossible for the TIO and AUSTEL (now the ACMA) to continue to state that the COT arbitrations were independently administered.

To summarise the issue: during these four arbitrations, the defence was allowed to pay the arbitrator and those involved in the process. How is this different to the defendant in a criminal matter being allowed to pay the judge? It is a clear and concerning conflict of interest.

Senate Hansard, dated 26th September 1997 (AS 232-B), confirms that during a Senate hearing into COT issues, the then-new TIO, John Pinnock, agreed that Mr Benjamin had not removed himself from Council discussions when COT arbitration matters were discussed:

Senator SCHACHT – "…Mr Benjamin, you may think that you have drawn the short straw in Telstra, because you have been designated to handle the CoT cases and so on. Are you also a member of the TIO Board?

Mr Benjamin – "I am a member of the TIO council".

Senator SCHACHT – "Were any Cot complaints or issues discussed at the council while you were present?"

Mr Benjamin – "There are regular reports from the TIO on the progress of the Cot claims".

Senator SCHACHT – "Did the council make any decision about Cot case or express any opinion?"

Mr Benjamin – "I might be assisted by Mr Pinnock".

Mr Pinnock – Yes?"

Could there possibly be a more sinister political twist to Mr Benjamin being allowed to attend TIO Council meetings when the COT arbitration claims were being discussed? It certainly seems that there could be, because it was Mr Benjamin who was in control of which documents the COT claimants could be received in response to their FOI requests, and when that information would be released. It is believed this ties in with Mr Benjamin’s constant pressure for the TIO to investigate these FOI issues and the TIO’s reluctance to do so, since he had already supplied private COT / government particulars to Telstra members of the TIO Board.

The decision to allow the defendants to attend these meetings without inviting the claimants was made by the TIO Council Chairman, the Hon Tony Staley, who was then also the Federal Liberal Party Treasurer. This clearly raises questions about what political motives might have been behind that decision, particularly when it was clearly to the detriment of the claimants.

Mr Staley also falsely advised his liberal party colleagues, on numerous occasions, that the TIO-administered COT arbitrations had all been conducted according to the principals of natural justice when he knew, certainly in Alan’s case at least, that Mr Benjamin had deliberately withheld some of the most relevant Bell Canada Internal Inc. (BCI) Cape Bridgewater information from Alan, on behalf of Telstra, even though Alan had quite rightly requested that information under FOI rules, in May 1994

Mr Benjamin eventually released these documents, without ever assessing them, on 23 May 1995, two weeks after Dr Hughes had deliberated on Alan’s claims (AS 819).  This means that, as a direct result of attending those monthly TIO Council meetings, Mr Benjamin knew exactly where the arbitrator and his TIO-appointed Resource Unit were at with their investigations, and when a final award would be provided. This meant that Telstra knew exactly which of the most damning documents to conceal and when it would be safe to release them. In Alan’s case, that was after the designated arbitration appeal period had expired on 23 May 1995.

Sinister may not be the first word to describe the discovery that, in his position as Chairman of the TIO Council, Mr Staley received a letter (AS 1027) dated 2 June 1994, from John Pinnock (TIO) concerning another proposed arbitration process that noted:

“In part my position has hardened because of the many problems

 and deficiencies in the Arbitration process”,

but still Mr Staley continued to write to Alan (and we assume others), claiming quite the opposite of Mr Pinnock’s claim regarding the COT arbitrations. And Mr Staley’s letters are now included in privileged Government archives, as if they were the truth.  

6th December 1993: This letter from Trevor Hill, Telstra's Corporate Management, to various other Telstra's executives FOI folio R04207/8 notes:

"The purpose of this memo is to provide formal Corporate Regulatory feedback to your project team on issues relevant to the development of service specifications and testing procedures arising out of the “COT Case” investigations.

I am concerned that within the project team there appears to be undue focus on trying to develop a service specification which will be “all things to all people.” That is, there would appear to be an attempt to develop a specification not only BCS service difficulties but also potential difficulties arising from a customer use of CPE. This is not appropriate. AUSTEL has already issues technical standards in relation to CPE and its connection to a carriers network” and

Telecom’s acceptance should only occur after a careful process of consideration and deliberation and with a full understanding of the impact upon the Company in terms of the delivery and ongoing monitoring of services within those specifications."

FOI folio R04207/8 document shows that Telstra are aware of the relevance of performing correct testing procedures – example: Service Verification Testing (SVT) Testing.

13th December 1993: This Telstra internal email FOI folio R04205 (AS 419) shows quite clearly that AUSTEL’s Deputy Chairman, Bob Horton (ex-Telstra Executive), allowed Telstra to limit their mandatory parameter testing to only those customers that Telstra stated required testing:

"This Email 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.”

It goes further to state:

“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 Yasmin, 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."

Bob Horton, referred to in the above memo, was AUSTEL’s Acting Chairman at the time.

It is easy to see just how bad this situation was by simply linking this limiting of the mandatory testing with another Telstra internal email (FOI folio A09392) dated 15 November 1993, (AS 418) 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’!".

The reader has only got to compare Exhibits AS 418 and 419 with AS 487, which are the covert findings included in AUSTEL’s Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp March 1994 report which notes, at point 212:

"In view of the continuing nature of the fault reports and the level of testing undertaken by Telecom doubts are raised on the capability of the testing regime to locate the causes of faults being reported."

In other words, AUSTEL and Telstra suspected that Telstra's Service Verification Testing of Alan's telephone service lines would NOT locate the  'causes of faults being reported,' either during or after his arbitration. 

 

More 1800/800 fault deliberations/More damning evidence

16th December 1993: This letter from Denise McBurnie of Freehill Holligdale & Page (FHP) in response to Alan’s letter of 6 December 1993 states:

“With respect to your comment concerning a customer from Mount Gambier, South Australia, who has reported to you that he had difficulty contacting you on your 008 service, if you are able to provide our client with more details (such as the caller’s telephone number) our client may be able to investigate and comment further on the problem which this customer reported to you". (AS 602)

Neither Telstra nor FHP explained why this Mt Gambier customer and numerous other customers were all experiencing the same problems. What this document does again confirm is that Alan, where his telephone problems and faults were concerned, had to deal directly with Telstra’s outside lawyers before his phone faults were investigated.

Documents (AS 59) are two letters; one dated 4 January 1994 from Alan to Ms McBurnie and the other dated 28 January 1994, also to Ms McBurnie’s response. These two documents show that Freehills had a significant input into settling the technical issues associated with Alan's phone problems, which continued to affect his businesses endeavours both during and after his arbitration. Not only was Freehills Telstra’s arbitration defence lawyers in both Graham and Alan’s arbitrations, these letters show they also advised Telstra on how to address COT related technical issues before the start of the arbitrations. Since none of the 008/1800 information Alan provided to Freehills was ever returned to Alan in response to his arbitration FOI requests. Could Telstra have originally set up this system of the COT Cases registering their phone complaints through Freehill's, with the sole aim of concealing all information concerning those complaints under Legal Professional Privilege.

20th December1993: This internal email FOI folio A0035 from Telstra's Don Pinel to various other executives within Telstra notes:

"I understand there is a new tariff filing to be lodged today with new performance parameters one of which commits to 98% call completion at the individual customer level. Given my experience with customer disputes and the recent BCI study, this is a cause for concern. We will not meet this figure in many exchanges around Australia particularly in country areas.

I assume that it is too late to stop the filing (and we may not want to even if there is a downside) but this has the potential to cause us a major pain in the CoT area."

Apparently, Telstra were quite aware that their rural exchanges were not up to network standard.

This issue has still never been properly investigated, either by any of the various Ministers for Communications that have been appointed since 1995.

6th January 1994: This letter to Telstra's Steve Black from AUSTEL's General Manger of Consumer John MacMahon FOI folio 000762 notes:

"You are probably aware of Mr Smith ongoing complaints as to the efficacy of his 008 service - he maintains that many callers receive a RVA advising that the number is no longer connected.

Further to that point is the experience of the Portland Tourist Information Centre which is now complaining of precisely the same problem".  

7th January 1994: Internal Federal Government memo from Tom Dale, of Minister Lee’s Office with the subject cot cases (AS 48-F) states

"I spoke with Warwick Smith in light of today’s reports that he is investigating the telephone monitoring allegations.”

He later writes:

“He also mentioned that the fast-track claim settlement process was not getting anywhere due to the COT cases knocking back the TIO’s proposal for people to determine their claims. We should not give the Minister the impression that the fast-track would fix things: it is far from certain."

The issue being discussed regarding whether the fast-track’ would fix these matters should have been addressed prior to the commencement of the FTSP. Robin Davey had already written to the previous Minister, the Hon David Beddall MP, on the 26th August 1993, advising him that Telstra was aware of faults still affecting Cape Bridgewater (AS 48-G) stating on page 4:

Cape Bridgewater – "…Telecom has admitted existence of unidentified faults to AUSTEL."

This raises the following questions of AUSTEL, as the facilitators to Alan’s arbitration:

(a)  Why was this admission by Telstra to AUSTEL, and the advice given by AUSTEL to the Minister regarding these unidentified faults in existence, hidden from Alan and his technical advisors during his arbitration?

(b) Why did AUSTEL and the Government allow Telstra to submit under oath in their arbitration defence of Alan’s claims, during Telecom’s fault investigation at Cape Bridgewater during 1988 to1994, that they found no faults which would have affected Alan’s business endeavours?

It is important to remind the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that Telstra’s Corporate Secretary, Jim Holmes, was advised in all three emails (AS 641) A01554, A06507 and A06508 that the Leopard Fault data had been destroyed once it was more than twelve months old, and he was a member of the TIO Board when the first four COT claimants signed the arbitration agreements. But it seems that Mr Holmes did not warn the Government, which had endorsed the arbitration agreements; or the TIO, who administered the arbitrations, that the claimants would not be able to support their claims effectively, because Telstra had destroyed all the historic data, at least from 1992 onward.

Have the TIO Board or the ACMA Board ever stopped to consider what followed, after Telstra kept this information secret? Have they ever considered the financial cost to each claimant as they tried to access this Telstra information? All of the COT cases accumulated costs that ran into hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to access this non-existence fault data (and other Telstra data) in support of their arbitration claims.

In summary – AUSTEL’s hiding of their true adverse findings against Telstra has cost Alan dearly and what the TIO, AUSTEL and now ACMA have failed to understand is that it took eighteen months and an enormous financial burden to complete Alan’s arbitration claim, and all he was unknowingly doing was attempting to prove the facts that AUSTEL had already proved (in their draft report). All the while Telstra submitted false witness statements, under oath, denying there were any problems of significance that had affected Alan’s business.

Have the ACMA Board, the TIO Board and the TIO Council fully understood how much it has cost taxpayers for Telstra to defend Alan’s claim, when Telstra was a fully-Government-owned corporation? The cost to the taxpayer included the hiring of the TIO-appointed arbitrator; the TIO-appointed Special Counsel; and the TIO-appointed Resource Unit – and all this money was spent as part of a process where the Government Communications Regulator AUSTEL had already secretly found in favour of Alan’s claims.

  

Who Paid Grant Campbell?

10th January 1994: This TIO document (AS 542-A) confirms that Grant Campbell was handling Alan’s related FTSP and (Ferrier Hodgson Corporate Advisory) the TIO-appointed Resource Unit correspondence to Telstra on behalf of the TIO.

         Alan was never informed before his arbitration that Grant Campbell had been seconded from Telstra, nor that he had defected back to Telstra all within a twelve-month period. These following exhibits confirm that an unhealthy relationship between the TIO office and Telstra certainly existed during the period Alan was in arbitration.

It is interesting to note that the 1993/94 TIO Annual Report does not list Mr Campbell as having worked for the TIO office, even though Mr Campbell held a senior managerial position with the TIO office. Please consider the following points:

  1. TIO documents dated 9th February 1994 (AS 542-B) confirm that Grant Campbell was signing letters on behalf of Warwick Smith, particularly in relation to the fax billing and lock-up complaints included in Alan’s Smith’s FTSP claims.
  2. Telstra FOI documents H00027 H36279, and H36280 (AS 542-C) confirm that, in January and February 1995, Grant Campbell and Ted Benjamin were addressing the same types of 008/1800 billing issues on behalf of Telstra’s Customer Response Unit. This is the same Unit that Ted Benjamin headed when he wrote to Dr Hughes on 16th December 1994 to confirm that Telstra had advised AUSTEL, in writing, that they would address Alan Smith’s 008/1800 billing issues as part of their defence of his claim, as per the arbitration agreement. Alan has always been concerned about Grant Campbell’s handling of Alan’s 008/1800 arbitration materials that went through the TIO’s office in 1994.

         During the early stages of the COT arbitration process the COT claimants were told that Pia Di Mattina had been seconded from Minter Ellison by the TIO to assist him in the COT Arbitration Process. Miss Di Mattina’s name, understandably, does not appear in the TIO 1993/94 employee list that is included in the 1993/94 Annual Report (the report can be supplied on request), although all the other TIO employees are listed there, but it is also interesting to note that Grant Campbell’s name is not included on the employee list either, even though he dealt with a number of the billing issues during Alan Smith’s arbitration, as well as accepting part of Alan Smith’s original FTSP claim lodged with the TIO office on 27th January 1994.

This Telstra internal email FOI folio 000973 (AS 542-E) notes:

"The ex-employee’s name is Grant Campbell. Grant then worked as the Deputy Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and then on a senior management review team".

On the 9 February 1994, Mr Campbell wrote to Telstra’s Fiona Hills, under the heading Loss of Fax Capacity, noting:

"I spoke with Alan Smith on the 9 instant following our discussion on the 8 instant. He has agreed that this is a new matter and whilst it may be indicating some ongoing problems, it is not a matter that relates directly to the preparation of his material to be presented to the Assessor".

Mr Campbell’s statement to Fiona Hills that “He [Alan Smith] has agreed that this is a new matter” does not match the information in (AS 767-A, 768, 769, 770, 771, and AS 772-A) which confirm that local (Portland) Telstra technicians were aware of the major problems associated with the faxing capacity issue, at least as far back as October 1993. Mr Campbell’s correspondence was, therefore, clearly misleading fellow Telstra employees and, possibly, Warwick Smith also, about the ongoing problems. This adds even further weight to both Graham and Alan’s claims that there needs to be a transparent investigation into the TIO-administered COT arbitrations.

It is amazing enough to find that Grant Campbell was seconded from the employment of the defendants during the COT arbitrations, but it is even more amazing to learn that, while he was wearing his TIO hat, he was also working on 1800 problem claims lodged by another COT claimant but, in this instance, he was wearing his Telstra hat!  These two different ‘hats’ must lead directly to an understanding that no-one may ever know how many claim documents the COT cases sent to the TIO’s office while Grant Campbell was wearing his TIO hat but being paid by Telstra.

We may never uncover how many arbitration procedural documents never made it to the viewing room that the TIO-appointed, secretly-absolved-from-risk, arbitration Resource Unit appeared to have access to.

We have raised the issue of this Grant Campbell fax capacity issue here because Dr Hughes’ technical Resource Unit never provided Alan with the results of their investigations into the lost faxes, even though it cost Alan well over to $200,000.00 to participate in the arbitration process; and even though clause 11 in the official Arbitration Agreement notes: 'The Arbitrator's reasons will be set out in full in writing and referred to in the Arbitrators award, the lost fax issues were not referred to: 'in full in writing' in the Arbitrators award.

Like Grant Campbell, Warwick Smith and his appointed Arbitration Technical Resource Unit they appear to have misunderstood the significance of the 008/1800 problem, because they failed to alert Dr Hughes that the 008/1800 service Alan used was actually routed through his main service line, 055 267 267, the line that one of the two faulty EXICOM phones was connected to – the phone that was prone to lock-up after each terminated call. In other words, when the Resource Unit advised John Pinnock (TIO) on 15 November 1995, and Dr Hughes on 2 August 1996 (AS 220), that Alan’s 008/1800 billing claims were not addressed, they were also admitting to not investigating or addressing Alan’s main service line 055 267 267.

Was there a more sinister motive behind the decision to ignore Alan’s billing claims, the same 008/1800 billing faults that Telstra’s Grant Campbell was investigating while working with the TIO (on secondment from Telstra) and then working on again, later, after he went back to Telstra to work alongside TIO Council Member Ted Benjamin?

Did Ted Benjamin's relationship with Telstra and the TIO Council have anything to do with his later relationship with Grant Campbell? There appears to be NO doubt that this particular issue – of Grant Campbell addressing 008/1800 problems on behalf of the TIO and then on behalf of Telstra, all during Alan’s arbitration – created a massive conflict of interest.

Could it be that, when Alan told Mr Campbell that he needed all the documents related to his earlier settlement, from before December 1992, so he could show how undemocratic this 1992 settlement process was, that Mr Campbell then passed that information straight on to Telstra, thereby effectively alerting Telstra to which documents they could ‘lose’ because it was relevant to Alan’s case?  It is also interesting to connect this issue to a letter written on 11 November 1994, to Telstra from the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office, asking why the earlier settlement material that Alan had requested under FOI had still not been supplied to him.

  

Telstra's 'Fast Track' Proposed Rules of Arbitration

A forensic assessment of this 10 January 1994 document will show that, except for a few minor cosmetic changes, the agreement that the four COT Cases signed on the 21 April 1994, believing (as did various government ministers) that it had been drafted by the President of the Institute of Arbitrators, had in fact been drafted by the defendants lawyers

The arbitration agreement Alan signed, along with three other claimants, included a confidentiality clause that covered events that occurred DURING the arbitrations process but did NOT cover events that occurred before the arbitration had commenced. Even BEFORE the parties signed the agreement, and without the claimants’ knowledge or consent, a meeting on 22 March 1994 was attended by Steve Black (Telstra's arbitration liaison officer), David Krasnostein (Telstra’s General Counsel), Simon Chalmers (Telstra's arbitration lawyer), Peter Bartlett (TIO Special Counsel), Dr Hughes (Arbitrator), Warwick Smith (TIO) and the TIO’s secretary, Jenny Henright. This meeting discussed important issues concerning the conduct of Alan's arbitrations without the presence of any COT claimant or their representatives and, because of the secrecy surrounding this meeting, the claimants weren’t even able to comment on the proposals put to the meeting.  If Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) and Alan had been represented in the same way that Telstra was represented at that meeting, then the resulting alterations to two of the clauses in the arbitration agreement would certainly never have been allowed.  If Alan had known about the meeting and the alterations had been discussed at this meeting a month before Alan's lawyers agreed to accept the unchanged agreement, he would never have agreed to sign it.

After reading our story various observers from all walks of life could argue that Telstra acted outside the law DURING Alan's arbitration when they submitted false evidence, including manufactured test results, under oath, in a clear attempt to stop the arbitrator’s technical consultants from investigating the ongoing telephone problems that were still being experienced by Alan's business, even during the arbitration deliberation period, but this is not what Alan is raising here; what Alan is most concerned about is the conduct of the TIO and the arbitrator before he signed the  FTAP confidentiality clause which was attached to the Arbitration Agreement.

 

Evidence Files

 

Example 1:  File AS 942 = AS-CAV 923 to 946 

Example 2 : File 34-C = AS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 47

AS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 47 – AS-CAV Exhibit 48-A to 91AS-CAV Exhibit 92 to 127AS-CAV Exhibit 128 to 180AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233AS CAV Exhibit 234 to 281AS-CAV Exhibit 282 to 323AS-CAV Exhibit 324-a to 420 AS-CAV Exhibit 421 to 469 – AS-CAV Exhibit 470 to 486AS-CAV Exhibit 488-a to 494-e –AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541AS-CAV Exhibits 542-a to 588AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647AS-CAV Exhibits 648-a to 700 – AS-CAV Exhibit 765-A to 789 AS-CAV Exhibit 790 to 818AS-CAV Exhibit 819 to 843AS-CAV 923 to 946 – AS-CAV Exhibit 1150 to 1169AS-CAV 1103 to 1132AS-CAV Exhibit 1002 to 1019AS-CAV Exhibit 996 to 1001 – GS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 88 GS-CAV Exhibit 89 to 154-bGS-CAV Exhibit 155 to 215GS-CAV Exhibit 216 to 257GS-CAV Exhibit 258 to 323GS-CAV Exhibit 410-a to 447GS-CAV Exhibit 448 to 458 GS-CAV Exhibit 459 to 489GS-CAV Exhibit 490 to 521 GS-CAV 522 to 580GS-CAV Exhibit 581 to 609

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Download Attachments

Tampering With Evidence File No 1-A to 1-C   Tampering With Evidence File No 2   Tampering With Evidence File No 3   Tampering With Evidence File No 4   Tampering With Evidence File No 5   Tampering With Evidence File No 6   Tampering With Evidence File No 7   Tampering With Evidence File No 9   Tampering With Evidence File No/10   Tampering With Evidence File 11-A to 11-B   Tampering With Evidence File No 13   Tampering With Evidence File No 14   AXE Faulty Equipment

 

Tampering With Evidence File No/12-A to 12-E "...I believe that it should be pointed out to Coopers & Lybrand that unless this report is withdrawn and revised their future in relation to Telecom may be irreparably damaged."

 

To be continued 

Absent Justice Ebook

Read Alan's book

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.

Quote Icon

“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

“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

“…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

“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

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