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Summary of Events

 

Absent Justice - 12 Remedies Persued - 1

120,000 COT-type customers

Telstra had so much power over AUSTEL (the then governemnt communications regulator (now ACMA) that it forced AUSTEL to drastically reduce the numbers as shown in the official government regulatory COT Case April 1994 Report, from some 120,000 COT-type customers who were having similar CAN and Ericsson AXE problems, right around Australia (see Falsification Report File No/8) to 50-plus. Telstra was also somehow able to force AUSTEL to submit fabricated SVT reports to the minister via their third quarterly COT Cases Report of 2 February 1995.

Of course, since the arbitrator was clearly protecting the government during our arbitrations, he found that there were no more ongoing problems affecting the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and his award of 11 May 1995 only reported on old, historic, anecdotal Telstra-related faults and ignored the still-ongoing faults that were still occurring.

Were 1these 120,000 COT-type customers who were having similar major problems, right around Australia (see Falsification Report File No/8) also related to the Ericsson AXE telephone exchange problems which were worrying AUSTEL as well as the CAN and AXE problems (see below

File 8-B (Introduction File No/8-A to 8-C), is a letter dated 8 April 1994 to AUSTEL’s Chairman from Telstra’s Group General Manager, suggests that AUSTEL (the then government communications regulator) was far from truly independent, but rather could be convinced to alter their official findings in their COT Case 13 April 1994 report, just as Telstra has requested in many of the points in this first letter.

For example, at point 4 on page 3, Telstra writes:

“The Report, when commenting on the number of customers with Cot-type problems, refers to a research study undertaken by Telecom at Austel’s request.  The Report extrapolates from those results and infers that the number of customers so affected could be as high as 120,000.

However, at point 2 on page 1 of Telstra’s letter 9 April 1994, Telstra writes:

“In relation to point 4, you have agreed to withdraw the reference in the Report to the potential existence of 120,000 COT-type customers and replace it with a reference to the potential existence of “some hundreds” of COT-type customers”.

The fact that, on this occasion on 9 April 1994 Telstra (the defendants) were able to pressure the Government Regulator to change their original findings in the formal 13 April 1994 AUSTEL report is alarming, to say the least.

The 120,000 COT-type problems being experienced by other Australian citizens are not referred to as “some hundreds” of COT-type customers”.  AUSTEL changed their public report (see File 8 - (Introduction File No/8-A to 8-C),to read: "...may be higher than Telecom's original estimate of 50". 

To say, Amanda Davis was horrified to learn that AUSTEL, where she had once been General Manager for Consumer Affairs had acted in concert with Telstra to hide the real truth concerning how many Telstra customers were experiencing similar COT type complaints is an understatement, to say the least. I believe it was this deception by AUSTEL (now the Australian Communications Media Authority - ACMA) to deceive the Australian public as well as the COT arbitrator of the true extent of the phone problems being experienced by hundreds of thousands of Australians throughout Australia that prompted Ms Davis to write the following letter 

Absent Justice - A Breath of Fresh Air

And at worse fabricated, 

On 15 July 1995, two months after the arbitrator prematurely brought down his findings on my claim, AUSTEL’s previous General Manager of Consumer Affairs  provided me with an open letter noting:

“I am writing this in support of Mr Alan Smith, who I believe has a meeting with you during the week beginning 17 July.  I first met the COT Cases in 1992 in my capacity as General Manager, Consumer Affairs at Austel. The “founding” group were Mr Smith, Mrs Ann Garms of the Tivoli Restaurant, Brisbane, Mrs Shelia Hawkins of the Society Restaurant, Melbourne, Mrs Maureen Gillian of Japanese Spare Parts, Brisbane, and Mr Graham Schorer of Golden Messenger Couriers, Melbourne. Mrs. Hawkins withdrew very early on, and I have had no contact with her since.

The treatment these individuals have received from Telecom and Commonwealth government agencies has been disgraceful, and I have no doubt they have all suffered as much through this treatment as they did through the faults on their telephone services.

One of the striking about this group is theur persistence and enduring belief that eventually there will be a fair and equitable outcome for them, and they are to admired for having kept as focussed as they have throughout their campaign.

Having said that, I am aware all have suffered both physically and their family relationships. In one case, the partner of the claimant has become seriously incapacitated; due, I beleive to the way Telecom has dealt with them. The others have al suffered various stress related conditions (such as a minor stroke.

During my time at Austel I pressed as hard as I could for an investigation into the complaints. The resistance to that course of action came from the then Chairman. He was eventually galvanised into action by ministerial pressure. The Austel report looks good to the casual observer, but it has now become clear that much of the information accepted by Austel was at best inaccurate, and at worst fabricated, and that Austel knew or ought to have known this at the time.” 

After leaving Austel I continued to lend support to the COT Cases, and was instrumental in helping them negotiate the inappropriately named "Fast Track" Arbitration Agreement. That was over a year ago, and neither the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman nor the Arbitrator has been succsessful in extracting information from Telecom which would equip the claimants to press their claims effectively. Telecom has devoted staggering levels of time, money and resources to defeating the claiams, and there is no pretence even that the arbitration process has attemted to produce a contest between equals.

Even it the remaining claimants receive satisfactory settlements (and I have no reason to think that will be the outcome) it is crucial that the process be investigated in the interest of accountabilty of publical companies and the public servants in other government agencies. 

Because I am not aware of the exact citrcumstances surronding your meeting with Mr Smith, nor your identity, you can appriate that I am being  fairly circimspect in what I am prepared to commit to writing. Suffice it to say, though, I am fast coming to share the view that a public inquiry of some discripion is the only way that the reasons behind the appalling treatent of these people will be brought to the surface.

I would be happy to talk to you in more detail if you think that would be useful, and can be reached at the number shown above at any time. 

Thank you for your interest in this matter, and for sparing the time to talk to Alan. (See " File 501 -  AS-CAV Exhibits 495 to 541 )

Absent Justice - Hon David Hawker MP

In September 1995, after having read this letter from Amanda Davis my Federal Member of Parliament, The Hon David Hawker MP arranged for some of the COT members to meet with the then-Shadow Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, in his office in Canberra late September 1995. Senator Alston was more than concerned about the way my arbitration was conducted.

It appeared that, when we signed for arbitration, both Senator Richard Alston and the then Senate Whip in the Australian Senate, on behalf of the National Party, Senator Ron Boswell had been under the same delusion as the COT four; believing that the arbitration would be a non-legalistic and fast-tracked process.

Although the following Senate Hansard - 20 September 1995 has been raised on the Home page it was most important to raise it again below.

Absent Justice - Senator Ron Boswell

Senate Hansard - 20 September 1995

Senate Hansard records under the heading A MATTER OF PUBLIC INTEREST dated 20 September 1995, shows a very emotional Senator Ron Boswell discussing the above type of injustices that we four COT claimants ( i.e. Ann Garms, Maureen Gillan, Graham Schorer and me) suffered prior during and after our 'so-called' government endorsed arbitrations - (see Senate Evidence File No 1 20-9-95 Senate Hansard A Matter of Public Interest):

“...Eleven years after their first complaints to Telstra, where are they now? They are acknowledged as the motivators of Telecom’s customer complaint reforms. … But, as individuals, they have been beaten both emotionally and financially through an 11-year battle with Telstra. 

“Then followed the Federal Police investigation into Telecom’s monitoring of COT case services. The Federal Police also found there was a prima facie case to institute proceedings against Telecom but the DPP [Director of Public Prosecutions], in a terse advice, recommended against proceeding.

“Once again, the only relief COT members received was to become the catalyst for Telecom to introduce a revised privacy and protection policy. Despite the strong evidence against Telecom, they still received no justice at all. 

“These COT members have been forced to go to the Commonwealth Ombudsman to force Telecom to comply with the law. Not only were they being denied all necessary documents to mount their case against Telecom, causing much delay, but they were denied access to documents that could have influenced them when negotiating the arbitration rules, and even in whether to enter arbitration at all. …

"This is an arbitration process not only far exceeding the four-month period, but one which has become so legalistic that it has forced members to borrow hundreds of thousands just to take part in it. It has become a process far beyond the one represented when they agreed to enter into it, and one which professionals involved in the arbitration agree can never deliver as intended and never give them justice." 

"I regard it as a grave matter that a government instrumentality like Telstra can give assurances to Senate leaders that it will fast track a process and then turn it into an expensive legalistic process making a farce of the promise given to COT members and the unducement to go into arbitration. “Telecom has treated the Parliament with contempt. No government monopoly should be allowed to trample over the rights of individual Australians, such as has happened here.” 

Absent Justice - Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Evidence ignored by Minister and Chief of Staff 

However, it will be apparent from the following information (see  Open Letter File No/41/Part-One and File No/41 Part-Two), that the tampering with evidence during my arbitration was ignored in 1996, by the newly elected Minister for Communications The Hon Richard Alston and his Chief of Staff Paul Fletcher, less than two years after this crime had been committed. Evidence Bad Bureaucrats - Tampering of Evidence confirms beyond any doubt that a crime was committed against me during my arbitration. Both the Hon David Hawker MP and I provided Senator Richard Alston at his request two other similar falsified arbitration reports submitted by Telstra under oath to the arbitrator namley: Telstra's Falsified BCI Report and Telstra's Falsified SVT Report.

A letter I received from Mr Paul Fletcher, dated 4 September 1996 (see  Open Letter File No/41/Part-One), notes:

“In addition, I have examined the material you sent me.

“On the basis of the information I have received, I do not believe that there is any action in relation to your case that would be appropriate for the Minister to take at this time. The Minister has no power to intervene in the conduct of the COT arbitrations, which are being administered by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.”

On 26 May 2019, Paul Fletcher, became The Hon Paul Fletcher Australia’s Minister for Communications and the Arts (see  Media Release: Fletcher 'deeply honoured' to be appointed Minister for Communications, Cybersafety and the Arts  a portfolio he is professionally equipped to handle.

In 2019 and 2020, via my then Federal Member of Parliament the Hon Dan Tehan MP, the Hon Paul Fletcher refused to reinvestigate these criminal matters that had been before the ministers office since June 1996. Exhibit Telstra’s Falsified SVT Report shows these crimes affected the whole outcome of my arbitration and my ability to run my business on a level playing field with fellow competitors. The Hon Dan Tehan is aware of the validity of my claims, as was his predecessor the Hon David Hawker MP. That neither of them has ever had the ability or power to get the government to investigate Telstra’s corporate thuggery clearly shows how corrupt the Telstra corporation is.

Absent Justice - A Breath of Fresh Air

15 July 1995 letter ignored by  Minister and Chief of Staff

Amanda Davis would not reveal more than she did in her 15 July 1995 letter because I had already advised Ms Davis that I thought it was best she not know the name of the person who had agreed to meet with me, in the public interest. By operting in this manner it protected all parties from being accused of collusion or compromising a situation that was alarming top say the least. The fact that neither the Australian Federal Police, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, the arbitrator and the Australian Senator had been able to stop Telstra threatening me during my previous arbitration or hold Telstra accountable after they carried out those threats was the reason I was being careful (See Senate Evidence File No 31)

On 28 September 1992, almost three years before she wrote this letter when Amanda Davis was still AUSTEL's General Manager of Consumer Affairs, she telephoned me to discuss evidence I had mailed to AUSTEL some days previous (see two File 14 - AS-CAV Exhibit 1 to 47. The first document in File 14 is a typed Telstra fault record showing several faults experienced on my incoming phone service line 055 267 267, including three calls from Amanda Davis. It is clear from the discussion on this typed fault record that the first two S-D long-distance calls both calls dropped out where it is noted Amanda Davis only heard the pips on the line but did not connect on either call. Her third call was successful. However, it is confirmed from File 14 that Amanda Davis was charged for both no-connected calls. The second File 14 is the handwritten fault recording from Telstra of the events shown on the printed File 14. 

It is further confirmed from File 122-A to 122-G - AS-CAV Exhibit 92 to 127 that AUSTEL and Telstra knew a national billing problem in Telstra's 008/1800 billing software as early as 1993. 

It is also important to note from File 210-C AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233 a three-page internal report prepared by AUSTEL on 26 February 1996, which was derived from the evidence AUSTEL collected from my business on 19 December 1995 that they acknowledge my claims of ongoing 008/1800 billing problems was a valid claim. File 210-D AS-CAV Exhibit 181 to 233 dated 2 August 1996 confirms the 008/1800 billing short duration lock-up billing problems were still apparent. In other words, the 008/1800 billing problem I raised with AUSTEL in June 1993 was still in the Telstra network for more than three years.

This letter from Telstra to AUSTEL dated 23 July 1993 confirms I raised the oo8/1800 billing issues at least in June 1993 (see File 596 GS-CAV Exhibit 581 to 609.

It was these ongoing billing issues that Telstra refused to investigate unless I first raised them [in writing] with their outside lawyer Denise McBurnie of Freehill Hollingdale & Page.   

This was the very same lawyers (see Senate page 5169 SENATE official Hansard – Parliament of Australia who drafted the “COT Case Strategy” which spuriously advised Telstra how to conceal relevant technical documents from the first four COT Cases under Legal Professional Privileged even though the documents were not privileged. My name Alan Smith and the name of my business the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp was one of the four cases that had been singled out by Denise McBurnie (see TIO Evidence File No 3-A) that had to be stopped me from receiving my requested documents.

I reiterate, before this COT Case Strategy came into play Telstra had refused to investigate my ongoing telephone problems unless I first registered them in writing with this same legal firm.  This continual writing up of individual and ongoing telephone faults, to these lawyers, in order to have Telstra investigate them almost, sent me insane. Instead of keeping this evidence, I was providing it to Telstra, believing this would assist them in locating the problems I was experiencing. I was unaware I would later need this evidence for an arbitration process set up by the Australian government. This arbitration process meant I had to retrieve back, from Telstra and AUSTEL under Freedom of Information, the very same documentation I had previously provided them. Imagine the frustration of knowing that you had provided the evidence supporting your case but it was now being withheld from you. If this wasn’t soul-destroying enough, imagine learning that lawyer Denise McBurnie, with who you were being forced to register your ongoing billing phone complaints, devised a legal paper titled “COT Case Strategy” (see Prologue Evidence File 1-A to 1-C. instructing their client Telstra on how to conceal this same type of technical information under the guise of Legal Professional Privilege even though the information was not privileged

The fact that Telstra's CEO Frank Blount later co-wrote Managing in Australia acknowledging Telstra did have an 1800 billing problem is one thing, but for Denise, McBurnie to have written back to me stating Telstra did not have a 008/1800 billing problem shows the power the Telstra corporation and their legal firm has over the legal system in Australia 

The following link  CAV Exhibit 92 to 127) confirms Frank Blount, Telstra’s CEO, after leaving Telstra he co-published a manuscript in 1999. entitled, Managing in Australia. On pages 132 and 133, the author exposes the 1800 problems that Telstra did not addressed during my arbitration: 

“Blount was shocked, but his anxiety level continued to rise when he discovered this wasn’t an isolated problem. 

The picture that emerged made it crystal clear that performance was sub-standard.” (See File 122-i CAV Exhibit 92 to 127)

Frank Blount's Managing Australia https://www.qbd.com.au › managing-in-australia › fran can still be purchased online. 

I reiterate, the fact that the Telstra Board knew Telstra had a systemic network billing software problem and still advises the government on 11 November 1994 (see File 46-G - Open letter File No/46-A to 46-l, they would address these 008/1800 problems during my arbitraton and neither Telstra or the arbitrator adressed my 008/800 billing claim documents during my arbitration allowing them to be addressed secretly five months after my arbitration had not addressed them (see Absent Justice Part 2 - Chapter 14 - Was it Legal or Illegal? is testament Australia's government minders need to step up and admit how wrong they have been concerning my 008/1800 claims.  

According to Section 52 of the Australian Trade Practices Act under Part V - Consumer Protection Division 1 - Unfair Practices - Misleading or deceptive conduct:

-          52.  (1) "A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive or likely to mislead or deceive"

Telstra has continued to conceal their knowledge that I had a valid claim against Telstra under the Trade Practices Act, when that false 008/1800 billing advice was provided to AUSTEL 16 October 1995. The current government regulator ACMA and the Minister The Hon Paul Fletcher should treat this misleading and deceptive conduct towards me as a matter of some concern. The government regulator breached their statutory obligation to me, by concealing their knowledge that Telstra misled and deceived the government under the Trade Practices Act when supplying this false 008/1800 submission. Espercially since Frank Blount's book (See File 122-i CAV Exhibit 92 to 127) confirms Telstra did have a major 008/1800 problem and yet Telstra concealed their knowledge of this from the arbitration process set up to investigate these very same issues  Absent Justice Part 2 - Chapter 13 - Believe it or not and Chapter 14 - Was it Legal or Illegal?

There is no statute of limitations under Section 52 of the Trade Practices Act under the citcumstances of which this misleading and deceptive conduct that took place on 16 October 1995, when the entire Telstra board mislead and deceived  AUSTEL concerning my 008/1800 billinging problems when Frank Blounts book Managing in Australia shows my claims were valid. 

Please read on:

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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

“…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

“…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

“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

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

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

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

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

Cathy Lindsey

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

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

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

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

Cathy Lindsey

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

– Edmund Burke