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Corruption in Arbitration 2

To tell such a story, which is now being told on this website, we need the reader to understand that  AUSTEL (now ACMA) was very supportive of the COT Cases at first in 1992. That was until this government regulator understood what we first four Australians calling ourselves The Casualties of Telstra had uncovered concerning Telstra's ailing copper wire network and their deficient Ericsson AXE telephone equipment. The boiling pot got hotter after two of Telstra's most senior technical experts from Melbourne inadvertently left at my premises an unlocked briefcase on 3 June 1993

Aladdin had left behind his treasures 

Absent Justice - My Story - The Briefcase Affair

The truth at last

The Ericsson Briefcase Saga was about to unfold, i.e. Telstra had knowingly misled and deceived me during my first settlement on 11 December 1992 (See Front Page Part Two 2-B).

The briefcase was not locked, and I opened it to find out it belonged to Mr Macintosh. There was no phone number, so I had to wait for business hours the next day to track him down. But what there was in the briefcase was a file titled 'SMITH, CAPE BRIDGEWATER' - AXE - problems ongoing - this has been a significant AXE problem. After five gruelling years fighting the evasive monolith of Telstra, being told various lies along the way, here was possibly the truth from an inside perspective.

The first thing that rang bells was a document which revealed Telstra knew that the Ericsson AXE RVA fault they recorded in March 1992 had lasted for at least eight months — not the three weeks that was the basis of their settlement pay-out. Dated 24/7/92, and with my phone number in the top right corner, the document referred to my complaint that people ringing my number over 8 months received a 'service disconnected' message telling the caller my line was not connected. The final sentence reads: 'Network investigation should have been brought in as fault has gone on for 8 months'.

I copied about one-third of this briefcase before my copying machine died. That information was sent to the AUSTEL, the government communications regulator, the following day after Telstra had returned and picked up the briefcase. 

One-third of the documents that I managed to copy was enough information to convince AUSTEL that Ericsson and Telstra were fully aware the AXE Ericsson lock-up faults were a problem worldwide, affecting 15 to 50 per cent of all calls generated through this AXE exchange equipment. It locked up the system and affected the billing software. 

Thousands upon thousands of Telstra customers Australia-wide had been wrongly billed since the installation of this Ericsson AXE equipment which, in my case, had been installed in August 1991, with the problems still apparent in 2002. Other countries worldwide were removing or had removed it from their exchanges (see File 10-B Evidence File No/10-A to 10-f ), and Australia was still denying to the arbitrator there was ever a problem with that equipment. Lies told by Telstra to minimise their liability to the COT Cases. (See Files 6 to 9 AXE Evidence File 1 to 9)

This briefcase was nothing more than a cesspool of lies. It showed that Telstra had misled and deceived me concerning my ongoing telephone when they agreed to a settlement process on 11 December 1992. 

In 1994 we COT members all ended up involved in arbitrations with Telstra. According to the rules of arbitration, Telstra had a legal obligation to provide us with relevant documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

You will hear a lot more about this in due course, not least about the unreasonable time it took for FOI document requests to be delivered (often years too late). Enough to say here, that in an FOI release in mid-1994, I received documents referring to the general congestion problem at Cape Bridgewater.

The second paragraph of a document titled 'Subject PORTLAND – CAPE BRIDGEWATER PCM HBER' of 12 July 1991 was of particular interest:

When the 'A' direction of system 2 was initially tested, 11,000 errors per hour were measured. In the 'B' direction, approximately 216 errors per hour were measured, 72 errors per hour is the specified number allowable.

This level of error was, in fact, known at least as early as February 1990, the very time my complaints were being stonewalled. And nor was it acknowledged to me at the time of writing (July 1991). And in the new exchange, the problems continued, as another document, titled 'Portland — Cape Bridgewater — RCM System' showed, referring to the information logged in March 1993, long after Telstra had first reported these massive error rates:

Initial error counter readings, Portland to Cape Bridgewater direction:



System 1

System 2

System 3

















At this stage we had no idea over what period of time these errors had accumulated. 12 July 1993 (File 30 - AS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 47


The second page of this document explains why they 'had no idea over what period of time these errors had accumulated':

The alarm system on all three RCM systems had not been programmed. This would have prevented any local alarms being extended back to Portland.

My COT saga began in late 1987 when my ex-wife Faye and I bought a holiday camp accommodation business perched high above Cape Bridgewater, near Portland on the southwest coast in country Victoria. The Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp had been run as a school camp, and we intended to turn it into a venue for social clubs and family groups as well as schools.

The Camp was a decidedly phone-dependent concern, the phone was the preferred access to us for city people — and our big mistake when we fell in love with the place was to fail to look-into the telephone system. In those days there were no mobile coverage and business was not done via the internet or by email. In fact, the business was connected to a phone exchange installed more than 30 years before and designed specifically for 'low-call-rate' areas. This antiquated and unstaffed telephone exchange had only eight (8) lines to service (66 families), equating to 132 adults plus children, so if four of those adults or their teenage children were dialling out of Cape Bridgewater or were taking a call into their residence in Cape Bridgewater, that left only four free lines for the remaining 128 adults and their children

Absent Justice -  Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and Residence

It was never intended to handle the volume of calls made by a larger population plus holiday makers when my now ex-wife and I took over the business. In blissful ignorance, we went ahead with the sale of our home in Melbourne, and I took early retirement benefits to raise the money to invest in what we expected to be a new and exciting venture.

Therefore, it was paramount that I write a condensed version here of what transpired after several Australian citizens were enticed into arbitration being told the government would ensure they would receive the discovery documents they needed to support their claim via the Freedom of Information Act and as soon as you signed your government-endorsed arbitration agreement those promised documents were concealed from you during your arbitration. In my case, those documents were only proved to me by the government on 19 November 2007, twelve years after the completion of my arbitration (refer to AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, at points 2 to 212). 

Without this government AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, I could not know which documents I needed to request from Telstra and AUSTEL during my arbitration. Had it been provided as promised by the government, I would not be writing this story now because I would have been able to prove beyond all doubt to the arbitrator that my phone problems that Telstra had officially advised the arbitration process in NINE SIGNED WITNESS STATEMENTS were known to be false. They were not old hstorical complaints  alleged by those nine witnesses. They were ongoing complaints which, as the following two link shows, were still apparent eight years after the conclusion of my arbitration Refer to  Chapter 4 The New Owners Tell Their Story and  Chapter 5 Immoral - hypocritical conduct 

I could have appealed the arbitrators award had this document and a copy of the Portland telephone exchange log book been in my possession.  

None of the COT Cases received a copy of the telephone log book from the telephone exchanges that serviced  their businesses. This one document alone would have proved for or against each COT Case claim, so why was it concealed? If the COT Cases' claims were frivolous and the COT Cases' claim against Telstra vexatious, as Telstra advised the government and media, why hide a document proving Telstra was right and the COT Cases were wrong?

Shallow wiring across Australia

By clicking on the shallow wiring below, you will learn the COT story could have easily been your story had you purchased an Australian business in the 1980s.

Absent Justice - Telephone Wires Full of Water


16 October 2002. FOI folio 100264 concerns the new owner of my business Mr Lewis having ongoing phone problems and contacting his local Member of Parliament.

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

18th October 2002. Telstra FOI folio 100266, re the Lewises’ phone problems, says:

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

8th November 2002. This Portland Observer newspaper article is headed:“Holiday camp still plagued by phone and fax problems”, and says:

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

When our story began in 1987, most rural businesses were not using the internet, email or mobile phones. Mobile phones did not work in most rural locations, and mobile blackspots, even in the city outskirts, were common. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that this modern technology became a typical way to run a business.

Those of the current generation reading Absent Justice Book 2 or might find it difficult to understand that 20-plus years ago, then state-owned Telstra (and its government minders) could deceive many Australians into believing that they were trying to repair the ailing Australian telecommunications network, when, instead, they were band-aiding the many serious problems in Australia’s communications network. And why were they attempting to postpone this expenditure? Because privatization was on the government’s agenda and, within Telstra, the attitude from the top down was one of ‘let the shareholders foot the bill after privatisation’. This was Telstra’s only answer to the ongoing problems that were causing devastating problems for businesses around the entire country.

Even worse, as shows, at this time Telstra was also purchasing and installing Ericsson equipment in its Australian telephone exchanges, even when it was well known in the communications sector, around the world, that that equipment was seriously deficient and therefore not appropriate to install at all. Telstra knew other countries were removing Ericsson AXE equipment from their telephone exchanges as fast as they could. 

So our COT story is not just about what the industry refers to as ‘old and historic phone complaints that affected Australian’s telephone reception 20 or more years ago’, because some of that deficient equipment is still installed in Telstra exchanges all over the place. And the same people who got away with these appalling offences 20 years ago and covered them up still hold powerful positions, both in the Australian Establishment and in Telstra, even now. In the meantime, a fair resolution of all the COT cases’ claims has still not been reached (see An Injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens).


In memory of George Close, a man of Character (now deceased) 

When Geroge Close (the arbitration technical advisor to the COT Cases) visited my residence in Cape Bridgewater after learning his Buderim (Queensland) residence and his office was the conduit (the central location) to where this screening of the advice he gave the COT Cases on what documents they needed to access from Telstra under FOI detailing why this technical information was needed to support their individual arbitration claims, I showed him Open Letter File No/12File No/13Front Page Part One File No/1,Front Page Part One File No/2-A to 2-EFront Page Part One File No/4 and Front Page Part One File No/5, we discussed the effect of these intercepted/hacked faxes on the COT Cases overall submissions to the arbitrator. Mr Close later sent me an email on 5 August 2011 to assist me in exposing what the Telstra Corporation had been able to do (and get away with) during the COT arbitrations to gain an advantage over all of the COT Cases claims before the arbitrator. His eyes were full of sadness to think it was his residence and office, and the advice was given to the COT Cases from it that had caused the COT Cases so much damage (see Front Page Part One File No/26).

“I recall a discussion with Senator Ron Boswell during the late 90’s.

“He had been shown fax’s [sic] which had clear indication of change in the headers, indicating interruption in transmission by a third party or parties.

“He questioned whether it was possible that faxes to and from senators could be interrupted, read or copies.

“My response in the affirmative brought about an expression of extreme anger. Stating that if it could be proven that it occurred the offender(s) would be jailed.

“If required I am prepared to re-state this on an affidavit.”

So far, no one in Australia has even been brought to account, let alone jailed, for the terrible invasion of the COT cases’ private and business lives.

Exhibit AS 492-A file AS-CAV 488-A to 494-E is a letter dated 26 August 1998 from George Close to the new Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. The fax header records: Fax from: — 61 74 453198 — 17:54, which was Mr Close's residential fax number. Our Main Evidence File (see Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13) is the technical findings of both Scandrett & Associates and Peter Hancock, showing that they both agree that if the wording Fax from: followed by the numbers of the various COT faxes does not also include the correct business identification of the respective COT business then that indicates that those faxes were intercepted by a secondary fax machine and then redirected on to the intended destination.

This intercepted letter from Mr Close was copied to the offices of twelve different Government Ministers in Parliament House Canberra, raising several important questions. Since we constantly hear politicians questioning how information has been leaked from the party room, could this be because even Government offices in Parliament House are also routed through Telstra's Fax Streaming centre? Even if those Government offices have officially organised the Fax Streaming arrangement, what could be happening to the documents that go through that system without the Government's knowledge? Could it be that privileged, in-confidence material 'leaks' out of Parliament House through Telstra similarly? Is it that Telstra's Fax Streaming process means that, around the country, private is not so private?

Just to let you know, although the George Close exhibits are of poor quality (having been copied several times), the poor quality does not take away the truth that these exhibits, when viewed together, still prove our claims.

Exhibit AS 492-B file AS-CAV 488-A to 494-E, which is a report faxed by Mr Close on 16 April 1998, has the correct identification across the top of the page see 61-74-453198 — GEORGE CLOSE & ASSOC — 17:34. In simple terms, those with access to Telstra's network were able to use 'keywords' so only specific faxes leaving Mr Close's residence were intercepted. I have used these two examples because they were sent at approximately the same time in the afternoon, although months apart.

How many other arbitration and legal processes is this interception of the legal documentation being hacked by the opposing side, screened, and copied before sending it to its intended destination? The advantage of knowing the other side's weaknesses and strengths is endless. And this all happened in Australia. I firmly believe up to the day George Close passed away; he never got over the fact that Telstra had used his residence and office to the detriment of his clients.

Such perversion of justice warrants serious criminal charges. Why were police not advised? Why were no steps taken to prosecute?

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Read Alan’s book
‘Absent Justice’

Alan Smith’s book shows us corruption, fraud and deception perpetrated against fellow Australian citizens by the then government owned Telstra Corporation and the use of an 'arbitration confidentiality gag clause,' which is still being used in 2023 to cover up the many crimes committed by Telstra, the arbitrator and the arbitrators advisors during and after the arbitrations between 1993 and 1999 (see  Chapter 1 - The collusion continues  and Chapter 2 - Inaccurate and Incomplete.

This book is asking the government why are these crimes committed by Telstra being concealed under a gag clause?


All of the main events as quoted in this unbelievable true crime story are supported by copies of the original freedom of Information documents on this website (see Absent Justice Book 2)

Without those documents, most people would really struggle to believe that public officials and their lawyers committed the illegal offences they did.

Using the acquired evidence that can be downloaded from is possibly a world first.


Read About Our Dealings With

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

Sister Burke

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

Hon David Hawker

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

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

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

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

Cathy Lindsey

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

– Edmund Burke