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Absent Justice Introduction

Beware The Pen Pusher Power - Bureaucrats 

I have used the following two Australian Herald Sun newspaper articles (see immediately below) because suggesting there needs to be a transparent investigation into why so many government bureaucrats (seeEvidence12 Alternate remedies pursued) have concealed the truth surrounding my arbitration claims. 

It became obvious many problems experienced by the COT cases originated from either negligence or deliberate malfeasant on the part of a number of government agencies. Therefore, we have used page 3 of the Australian Herald Sun newspaper dated 22 December 2008, written under the heading Bad bureaucrats as proof that government public servants need to be held accountable for their wrongdoings.

“Hundreds of federal public servants were sacked, demoted or fined in the past year for serious misconduct. Investigations into more than 1000 bureaucrats uncovered bad behaviour such as theft, identity fraud, prying into file, leaking secrets. About 50 were found to have made improper use of inside information or their power and authority for the benefit of themselves, family and friends“

It is also most important to link how, on 2 February 1995, the powerful bureaucrats misinformed their true findings from the then-Minister for Communications, Michael Lee MP, regarding the true extent of the phone problems being experienced by Australian citizens, the main issue I raised in my 2008 AAT hearing.

On 23 May 2021, Peta Credlin, EX-Chief of Staff to The Hon Tony Abbott (Prime Minister of Australia), now a high profile Australian media guru and TV host, wrote a fascinating article, in the Herald Sun newspaper, under the heading:  "Beware The Pen Pusher Power - Bureaucrats need to take orders and not take charge”, which noted:

“Now that the Prime Minister is considering a wider public service reshuffle in the wake of the foreign affairs department's head, Finances Adamson, becoming the next governor of South Australia, it's time to scrutinise the faceless bureaucrats who are often more powerful in practice than the elected politicians.

Outside of the Canberra bubble, almost no one knows their names. But take it from me, these people matter.

When ministers turn over with bewildering rapidity, or are not ‘take charge’ types, department secretaries, and the deputy secretaries below them, can easily become the de facto government of our country.  

Since the start of 2013, across Labor and now Liberal governments, we’ve had five prime ministers, five treasurers, five attorneys-general, seven defence ministers, six education ministers, four health ministers and six trade Ministers.”

I found this article most relevant to the matters raised by the COT Cases and their dealings with 'the faceless bureaucrats who are often more powerful in practice than the elected politicians.'  Peta Credlin has hit the nail squarely on the head in this article. I can not only relate to the information she writes about, but I can also link it to the many bureaucrats and politicians I have met since this debacle first began, i.e., before, during and after my arbitration, who have continued to ignore the evidence now attached to this website. I, therefore, decided to use Peta Credlin's article to open my story.

Before continuing to read our Casualties of Telstra story, we suggest you click on the following legal research paper which discusses the use of government bureaucrats in civil actions such as arbitrations (see https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2817646) where you will find there are others, not just the COT cases, who see loopholes in the justice given out by some of the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman staff. In many cases, these ombudsmen have not even been registered lawyers or judges, and yet the Australian Establishment gives them the right to decide legal issues, which have – in many cases, as our story shows – ruined the lives of the complainants.

Absent Justice - My Story - Alan Smith  

My side of this COT story began in 1987 when I decided my life at sea, where I had spent the previous 25 or so years, was over. I needed a new land-based occupation to see me through to my retirement years and beyond. Of all the places in Australia, I chose to purchase the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and Convention Centre in southwest Victoria.

My business is hospitality, and I had always dreamed of running a school holiday camp. Imagine my delight when I saw the Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and Convention Centre advertised for sale in The Age. It was located in rural Victoria, near the small maritime port of Portland. Everything seemed perfect. I performed my “due diligence” to ensure that the business was sound or at least all of the due diligence I was aware I needed to perform. Who would have guessed that I had to check whether the phones work? Within a week of taking over the business, I knew I had a problem. I was hearing from customers and suppliers alike that they had tried to call and couldn’t get through to me.

Yes, that’s right. I had a business to run and a phone service that was, at best, unreliable, and at worst, just not there at all. Of course, we lost business as a result.

For most rural Australian business operators, running a telephone-dependent business was not like it is today. When our story began, most rural businesses were not using the internet, email or mobile phones. Checking emails and mobile phones at the start of each working day on a regular basis was not an option. Mobile phones did not work in most rural locations and mobile black spots, even in the city outskirts, were common. It was not until the late 1990s that this new technology became a common way to run a business. 

Other independent business people similarly affected by poor telecommunications joined the COT cases on their journey. 

It was my constant complaints to AUSTEL, the then government telecommunications regulator (now called the Australian Communications Media Authority - ACMA) and my Federal member of parliament, the Hon David Hawker MP, that finally bore fruit when, for the first time in this story, Telstra investigators came to Cape Bridgewater on 3 June 1993. At last, I thought, I would be able to speak directly to people who knew what they were talking about.

I should have known better. It was just another case of ‘No fault found.’ We spent some considerable time ‘dancing around’ a summary of my phone problems. Their best advice for me was to keep doing exactly what I had been doing since 1988, keeping a record of all my phone faults. I could have wept. Finally, they left.

A little while later, in my office, I found that Aladdin had inadvertently left behind his treasures: the Briefcase Saga was about to unfold. 

The briefcase was not locked, so I opened it to find a document staring at me titled ‘SMITH, CAPE BRIDGEWATER’. 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 Telstra document dated 2 July 1992, concerning the Portland Ericsson AXE telephone exchange, which stated:

“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.” (See False Witness Statement File No 3-A)

Absent Justice - COT Cases

Sadly, corruption and collusive practices are rife amongst Australia's regulators and the faceless bureaucrats who are often more powerful in practice than the elected politicians. This fact has prevented me from briefly telling my story. Therefore, I had no real option open to me other than to split the Home Page (on this website) into three parts (i.e., Introduction, Preface, Summary of Events and hope that my readers will appreciate how difficult it has been to introduce such an intricate and corrupt situation that unfortunately had seduced some of Australia’s most renowned legal practitioners into committing illegal activities to protect Telstra at all costs, a then fully government-owned corporation when the COT arbitrations began. Instead of upholding the law, most of the relevant law-enforcement and accountability arms of government collapsed for the Telstra Corporation to keep trading, even though AUSTEL knew Telstra was operating outside of their government licencing conditions (see Bad Bureaucrat / Chapter One exhibit Can We Fix The Can - Copper-Wire Network).;

How, when the COT Cases presented their dispute to the government, they were manipulated, pressured and squeezed into an unfair and costly arbitration. 

How Telstra and its legal defence team perverted the course of justice in the arbitration process by such dubious strategies as intercepting faxes and conversations (bugging), failing to deliver crucial FOI documents (or delivering them months and even years too late, often so highly censored that little intelligible remained), even destroying documentary evidence and fabricating evidence.

How could anyone, from the arbitrator to his technical advisors and Telstra, have doubted the magnitude of my fault complaints or state they were unsubstantiated when the government itself, using documents officially accessed from Telstra, showed my business suffered significantly due to Telstra’s deficient service? AUSTEL stated:

“Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp has a history of service difficulties dating back to 1988. Although most of the documentation dates from 1991 it is apparent that the camp has had ongoing service difficulties for the past six years which has impacted on its business operations causing losses and erosion of customer base.” (See point 209 in AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings)

Had the government investigators provided the arbitrator with a copy one month before I commence my arbitration as they did Telstra, he would have had no option other than to bring down a finding in my favour in March 1994. Instead, the government allowed me to spend over $200,000.00 (two-hundred thousand dollars) in arbitration fees trying to prove something the government had already proved as the following statements made in their reporting from points point 10, 17, 18, 23, 37, 39, 40, 42, 44,46,47, 53, 56, 61, 62, 70, 75, 76, 79, 86, 87, 89, 91, 92, 93, 98, 100, 101, 104, 105, 109, 110, 111, 112, 118, 115, 129, 130, 136, 144, 151, 153, 158, 170, 173, 186, 187, 188, 206, 207, 208, 209, 210, 211 and 212  see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings.

How do you win against a government-owned corporation when the government regulator protects that corporation at all costs to the claimant's detriment? 

How do you expose the fact that this same once Government-owned organisation used electronic equipment connected to their network intercepting arbitration related faxed documents screened them before re faxing them on to their intended destination?

In my case, as discussed below, even though the arbitrator's office acknowledged six of my faxed claim documents never reached that office (see Front Page Part One File No/1, Telstra still billed me for these six non-received faxes. 

My 3 February 1994 letter to Michael Lee, Minister for Communications (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/27-A) and a subsequent letter from Fay Holthuyzen, assistant to the minister (see Hacking-Julian Assange File No/27-B) to Telstra’s corporate secretary, show I was concerned that my faxes were being illegally intercepted.

On the 10 February 1994 AUSTEL (the government communications authority wrote to Telstra stating:

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

“Given the investigation now being conducted by that agency and the responsibilities imposed on AUSTEL by section 47 of the Telecommunications Act 1991, the nine tapes previously supplied by Telecom to AUSTEL were made available for the attention of the Commissioner of Police.” (See Illegal Interception File No/3)

On and around 12 February 1994, AUSTEL representatives informed the COT Cases their claims of suspected phone and fax hacking had been officially referred to the AFP. On 17 February 1994, COT Cases Ann Garms and Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson representing the COT Cases) advised all parties at a pre-arbitration meeting of the existence of these Nine Audio Tapes which had now been provided to the AFP by the government.

A transcript prepared by Telstra’s arbitration lawyers dated 17 February 1994, records both the future arbitrator (Dr Gordon Hughes) and the TIO’s special counsel (Peter Bartlet) as present when these phone bugging issues were raised during our pre-arbitration hearing on 17 February 1994. On page 9 of these transcripts, Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson) showed concerns about these phone interception issues. Telstra's lawyers who transcribed these transcripts noted:

"He [meaning Mr Schorer] believed Telecom had engaged in industrial espionage and he would not remain silent in relation documents evidencing this". 

In fact, the transcription records Pater Bartlett saying:

“… if evidence indicated illegal tapping and unfair means had been used, then there may be some “moral” duty on the party to go forward. 

“That there may be a duty to disclose to the police criminal matters”. (refer Arbitrator File No/35

The full [umnasked] transcripts of the17 February 1994 pre-arbitration meeting can be located by scrolling down to exhibit 54-F page 10 File [download|864].

So why weren’t the State Police and/or the AFP contacted, as the pre-arbitration hearing on 17 February 1994 advised they would if illegal phone tapping and unfair means had been used against the COT Cases?

An internal government memo, dated 25 February 1994, confirms that the minister advised me that the AFP would investigate my allegations of illegal phone/fax interception. (See Hacking-Julian Assange File No/28)

25 February 1994: This internal Government Memo confirms that the then-Minister for Communications and the Arts had written to me to advise that the Australian Federal Police (AFP) would investigate my allegations of illegal phone/fax interception. (AFP Evidence File No 4)

On 23 March 1994:  The Hon Michael Lee MP Minister for Communications wrote to me:-

“Thank you for your letters of 3 February 1994, concerning problems with your telephone and facsimile service. …”

“I have also arranged for your letters to be sent to senior management in Telecom with a request that they fully investigate your allegations. …”

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on any allegations of improper monitoring while the matter is under investigation by the Federal Police.”
(AS-CAV Exhibit 48-A to 91 - See AS-CAV 63-A)

I again reiterate, as I have throughout this website, that I have never been provided with a finding regarding the evidence I provided the arbitrate, the AFP in 1994 or when I provided this same evidence in person at parliament house Canberra during the Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Bill 1994 on 21 March 1995. That evidence shows my business and residence was subjected to prolonged unauthorised interception of my telephone conversations.

Is this electronic eavesdropping, this hacking into in-confidence documentation still happening today, during legitimate administered Australian arbitration's?  In January 1999, while the last four of the twenty-one arbitration and mediations processes were concluding those four remaining COT claimants provided the Australian Government with a report confirming Telstra had been illegally intercepted arbitration-related documents (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13).

One of the two original technical consultants who originally attested to the validity of this fax interception report dated January 1999 (see Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13) emailed me, o17 December 2014, while I was compiling this website, stating:

“I still stand by my statutory declaration that I was able to identify that the incoming faxes provided to me for review had at some stage been received by a secondary fax machine and then retransmitted, this was done by identifying the dual time stamps on the faxes provided." (Front Page Part One File No/14)

​Further documents provided to the government also showed that arbitration-related documents were intercepted on 11 January 1994, before I signed my arbitration agreement. If this evidence of illegal fax hacking wasn't enough to convince the government, they should investigate the conduct of our arbitrations; it was also revealed the administrator of the arbitrations had allowed Telstra access to the COT claimants arbitration claim material months before it was released to the arbitrator. In my case, a seconded Telstra employee wrongly reported the severity of my lost faxed claim documents when he signed off official Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman correspondence on behalf of the ombudsman Warwick Smith who just happened to be the administrator of my arbitration (see Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Chapter 3, 

How many other Australian government-endorsed arbitration processes have been subjected to this type of questionable conduct by those administering the process? 

To answer this question we need to jump forward from 1994 to my letter of 20 June 2012, which reminded The Hon Robert Clark (Attorney-General) that his office was already in receipt of a 7 July 2011 statutory declaration prepared by Graham Schorer (COT spokesperson). This statutory declaration discusses the three young computer hackers who phoned Graham during the COT arbitrations of 1994 to warn him. They had discovered that Telstra and others associated with the arbitrations were ‘acting unlawfully’ towards the COT group. Graham’s statutory declaration includes the following statements:

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

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

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

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

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

My letters to the two aforementioned Attorney-General’s also recorded other valuable information that we COT Cases had uncovered, just like the young hackers, concerning the very same matters that the hackers had found, as well as information regarding what Telstra was doing ‘behind the scenes, during our arbitrations.  It was clear that Telstra’s secret behaviour in relation to the COTs had only one aim: to stop any of the matters raised by COT from being revealed to the Government, or to the public, at the time (1994), even though all those matters were of national importance to all Australians.

Regarding our COT arbitrations did the hackers uncover:

  1. Evidence Dr Hughes was forced, under pressure from the Establishment, to use Telstra’s drafted arbitration agreement instead of the agreed, independently drafted agreement all relevant parties were told would be used?;
  2. Evidence the arbitrator agreed with the defendants that he and his arbitration project manager would only assess a limited amount of claim documents in order to minimise Telstra’s liability? 
  3. Evidence that Telstra and the TIO agreed to secretly appoint a second arbitrator who would decide which arbitration procedural documents would reach the official arbitrator (Dr Gordon Hughes) and which would be concealed? (AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647 - See AS-CAV 590);
  4. Evidence confirming someone with access to Telstra’s fax screening process were diverting arbitration claim documents to a designated filing system before they were redirected onto their intended destination? (See Open Letter File No/121316 and File No17).

In my case, even though the arbitrator’s secretary advised the arbitration process that six of my faxed claim documents never reached the arbitrator’s office, I was never afforded the opportunity to resubmit this material for assessment. My fax account shows I dialled the correct fax number on all six occasions.

Absent Justice - Justice for All

While we are not glorifying Julian Assange on this website as an Australian national hero to the free world, it is still a fact that he and his young friends played a very important part in the first four COT arbitrations. The profile of these youths fit the profile of Julian Assange mentioned in a number of editorials, i.e. justice for all.  We have discussed this hacking issue because if it was was not Julian Assange and his young friends who contacted Graham Schorer, then someone else in Melbourne, Australia decided to expose what they had uncovered concerning the unlawful way in which the COT arbitrations were being conducted. Therefore, it was important we raise the Julian Assange issue here because of the serious nature of what these hackers saw as an injustice against fellow Australian citizens.

After contacting me to discuss the offer made by these hackers that they would provide the internal Telstra emails and faxes which supported their claims concerning Telstra's unlawful conduct towards us, Graham Schorer and I decided not to accept this information. We were of the belief that accepting damning evidence outside the due process of discovery and/or FOI could be seen as acting unlawfully. At the time, we alerted the administrator of our arbitration process to this information and the administrator then advised Graham that the hackers had been ‘apprehended’, but he would not tell Graham what he and/or the authorities had uncovered during their investigations into the information the hackers wanted to share with us.

It is now apparent from two publications – one titled The Most Dangerous Man In The World by renowned investigative journalist Andrew Fowler and the other by Dr Suelette Dreyfus and Julian Assange, titled Underground – that it was Julian Assange and his companions who contacted Graham.

In hindsight, had COT cases accepted the internal Telstra emails and faxes the hackers offered, we would have won our arbitrations back in 1994. At the time, however, we suspected this contact from the hackers were either a Telstra trick or a trick by the government to catch us red-handed with ill-gotten documents, which would have ended our arbitrations. The hackers kept telling Graham that those actually conducting the arbitrations were involved in this giant conspiracy.

Has the Australian Government really understood what Julian Assange wanted to share with us COT Cases? He did not ask for payment in sharing what he and his mates had uncovered, as would have been the case of a common criminal. He wanted us COT Cases to have a fair arbitration hearing, and that was all. Had we used the information on offer, then the arbitrator through Telstra would have demanded they fix up their degraded exchanges before he brought down his findings, unaware of the true extent of what was destroying the COT Cases businesses and numerous other telephone dependent businesses throughout Australia. 

The fact that Telstra had so much power over a government communications regulator that it was able to force it to drastically reduce the numbers included in AUSTEL’s COT Case April 1994 fings (see Introduction File No/8-A to 8-C from some 120,000 COT-type customers who were having similar problems, right around Australia, to just 50 or more, is mind-blowing, to say the least.

Were these the same letters from Telstra to AUSTEL (see Falsification Report File No/8) that prompted the hackers to advise COT case spokesperson Graham Schorer that the government was assisting Telstra in their defence of the COT cases claims i.e. our arbitrations were not being conducted under the rule of law? What did the hackers find amongst Telstra arbitration documents in order for them to form the opinion that the rule of law was not being abided to?

Agreeing to the alteration of a government regulators findings to protect a then owned government asset and not alert the consumer, at the defendant’s request (Telstra was, after all, the defendant in our arbitrations), devalued the government's report to where it was now a fabricated document being used by the arbitrator, unaware it was severely tainted. The fact that it was used as evidence in the COT arbitrations appears not to have worried AUSTEL, but it did worry the hackers to the extent of them contacting Graham Schorer.

Absent Justice - AFP

The following statements are taken from Graham Schorer’s Statutory Declaration re his break-in. (See Hacking – Julian Assange File No/3)

“In early February 1994, our premises were broken into and all computer cables including the power cables were severed, as well as all power connections to the main server which was in a specially constructed room. The perpetrators forced entry into the building in what the police described as a “ram raid”, where something similar to pneumatic tyre attached to the front of a vehicle was used to hit the front door with enough force to dislodge the steel frame attached to the brick work.

Part of the microfiche copier and viewer was stolen, as well as the PC on my desk which contained all of my COT information and correspondence between regulators, politicians, etc. Also stolen was a book that contained a catalogue of computer file numbers against their description.

The same day I spoke to Garry Dawson from Dawson Weed and Pest Control (another COT Case) on the phone, who told me that his business premises in Sunshine had been broken into just after midnight and burgled. The only thing stolen was the Dictaphone tape which held a recording he had made of a meeting between him and two Telstra executives on the previous day”. (see also Arbitrator File No/84)

It is also important to note that just prior, in March 1994, Mr Schorer’s office was broken into. I was also assisting the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with their investigations into my claims of fax interceptions. Hacking-Julian Assange File No 52 contains a letter from Telstra’s internal corporate solicitor to an AFP detective superintendent, misinforming the AFP concerning the transmission fax testing process. The rest of the file shows Telstra did experience major problems when testing my facsimile machine when it was tested in conjunction with a facsimile machine installed at Graham’s office. This department of Telstra was never informed prior to this testing taking place that Graham and my telephone service had a secondary fax machine installed to it so as to screen the incoming documents before they were transmitted on to the intended destination.

What has never been answered by the TIO and Telstra is, what happened to the faxed arbitration claim documents that didn't reach their intended destination?

During the independent Senate Committee investigations of 1997 to 1999, there were twenty-three senators who were either directly involved or who were provided with regular updates in relation to those investigations into the unethical way in which the COT arbitrations were conducted.  The same unethical conduct that Julian Assange and his mates alerted COT Cases spokesperson about more than three years before. Out of those twenty-three, the following six individual Senators on 6 March 1999, all made official statements concerning Telstra's unethical contact during those arbitrations (See > Eggleston, Sen Alan – Bishop, Sen Mark – BoswellSen Ronald – CarrSen Kim – Schacht, Sen Chris and Alston,Sen Richard) which all formally record how those six senators believed that Telstra had ‘acted as a law unto themselves’ throughout all of the COT arbitrations.

Furthermore, In-Camera Hansard records that were withheld under government privilege, but which I have discussed in evidence/government-communications-regulator-austelacma/An injustice to the remaining 16 Australian citizens, show that a number of other Senators thought the same. 

It might be hard to believe but, back in August 2001, and again in December 2004, the Australian Government threatened, in writing, to have me charged with contempt of the Senate if I was to ever disclose these in-camera Hansard records, even though those documents could well have won our cases if the COT claimants had appealed against the arbitration process? Where is the justice in that? Being charged with contempt of the Senate can result in a two-year jail term and, of course, the Government has always known that but, if I had been in a position to safely go ahead and make these documents public, they would have been a huge help, probably resulting in me winning my appeal on the grounds of gross misconduct by Telstra and those who administered the COT arbitrations.  So how can the Senate continue to hide this conduct and, in the process, destroy so many lives? How is this democratic?

It is appalling that it took a Senate Committee and an Officer from the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office almost two years (between September 1997 and March 1999) to uncover the same information that Mr Assange had uncovered more than three years earlier.  Why has Mr Assange been treated so poorly by the Australian government who endorsed our arbitrations?

The question that Australia’s media should be asking the current government is: Had the fax-hacking evidence that two qualified technical consultants attested to in their sworn witness statements been transparently investigated between 1994 and 1999 when we disclosed to the government what Telstra had been doing during our government endorsed arbitrations (see Open Letter File No/12 and File No/13) would this have stalled [stopped] any further types of telecommunications bugging during government-endorsed processes, such as the Timor-Leste scandal?

Hacking / Unresolved Privacy Issues 

Absent Justice - Bernard Collaery

What appears not to have been considered in the most recent Witness K and Bernard Collaery phone-bugging scandal (see abc.net.au court-document-witness is that the Casualties of Telstra (COT) provided conclusive proof to the John Howard government that someone within the Telstra Corporation, who had access to Telstra’s network, authorised the interception (screening) of COT-related arbitration faxes. Between January 1994 and January 1999, Telstra was the defendant in our government-endorsed arbitration process. The following exhibit Front Page Part One File No/14 shows that a secondary fax machine was installed into Telstra's network over an extended period.

Had the arbitrator and the COT claimants been aware before them signing their individual arbitration agreements that such a device would be secretly screening arbitration-related documents during the process they were involved with, there would never have been an arbitration because Telstra would have had an advantage over every single claimant's claims they were defending.  Arbitrations are supposed to be transparent and beyond reproach. The COT case arbitrations were nothing but a sham to protect a government-owned asset.

While page 180 ERC&A, from the official Australian Senate Hansard, dated 29 November 1994, has been addressed in preface it was just as important to link it to the interception issues raised here because it shows a concerned Senator Ron Boswell asking Telstra’s legal directorate:

“Why did Telecom advise the Commonwealth Ombudsman that Telecom withheld FOI documents from Alan Smith because Alan Smith provided Telecom FOI documents to the Australian Federal Police during their investigation?”

After receiving a hollow response from Telstra, which the senator, the AFP and I all knew was utterly false, the senator states:

“…Why would Telecom withhold vital documents from the AFP? Also, why would Telecom penalise COT members for providing documents to the AFP which substantiate that Telecom had conducted unauthorised interceptions of COT members’ communications and subsequently dealt in the intercepted information by providing that information to Telecom’s external legal advisers and others?” (See Senate Evidence File No 31)

Thus, the threats became a reality. What is so appalling about the withholding of relevant documents is that no one in the TIO office or government has ever investigated the disastrous impact this had on my overall submission to the arbitrator. The arbitrator and the government (who at the time fully owned Telstra) should have initiated an investigation into why an Australian citizen, who assisted the AFP in their investigations into unlawful interception of telephone conversations, was so severely disadvantaged during a civil arbitration Page Page Part One File No/14)

NONE of the COT Cases was ever on a terrorist list in 1994 (or since, for that matter) and nor was any of us ever listed as suspects in relation to any crimes committed against any Australian citizens. This means that we must therefore ask: why were we innocent claimants’ subjected to having our Telstra-related documents hacked by Telstra while Telstra was defending our various COT arbitration claims? In my own case, 42 separate sets of correspondence faxed to the Arbitrator’s office (some with attachments) are not listed on the official Arbitration Schedules of Material received by the Arbitration process.  It is clear from Front Page Part One File No/1 that even though the Arbitrator’s secretary advised Tony Watson (part of Telstra’s Arbitration Defence Unit) that on 23 May 1994, six of my claim documents were never received at the Arbitrator’s fax machine,  I was still charged for those six faxes as having left my office. No one from the Arbitrator’s office nor the TIO’s office when this matter was exposed, allowed me to amend my claim so that these proven “non received” claim documents were valued by the Arbitrator in support of my claim.

AFP transcripts dated 26 September 1994 Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 show quite clearly that my telephone conversations were listened to over an extended period, without my knowledge or consent. These same transcripts show the AFP were concerned I had received these threats from Telstra’s from their official arbitration liaison officer Paul Rumble. And yet,  regardless of naming Mr Rumble, the threats were still carried out.  

There should have been NO arbitration until the Australian Federal Police (AFP) completed its findings. No other Western nation allows two legal processes to run at the same time (i.e., the AFP investigation as well as our arbitrations) as one impedes upon the other. This is exactly what happened. It was unconstitutional to force a citizen into this type of no-win situation. Even worse, if that is at all possible, once I began to assist the AFP in their telephone and fax interception investigations Telstra stopped supplying my requested FOI documents.

Telstra email K01006, dated Thursday 7 April 1994, at 2.05 pm raises two issues. Firstly this date falls during the time I was involved in the Regulator-designed commercial agreement with Telstra and secret observations would surely seem to be inappropriate, at the very least.  Secondly, this document refers to a time when I would be away from his business during this pending arbitration process. The author of the email states:

“Mr Alan Smith is absent from his premises from 5/8/94 – 8/8/94. On other occasions when he has been absent there have been documented complaints received (usually months later) involving NRR etc. I called the premises at approx 4:55 pm 6/4/94. The answer time was 41 secs.

I intend on this occasion to document his absence and file all data I can collect for the period. That way we should be prepared for anything that follows.” 

Clearly, the writer knew, in April of 1994, that I planned to be away later that year, in August. In other words, he knew of my movements, four months in advance.

The then-Minister for Communications, the TIO and the Federal Police were all supplied with this document, along with a number of other documents indicating that my private telephone conversations were being ‘bugged’.

FOI document Folio 000605, clearly shows that the writer knew when “…Smith is in Melbourne”. I used to go to Melbourne (see AFP Evidence File No 8) on promotional tours to various single clubs advertising what outdoor activities we were packaging for two and three-night stop-overs. Horse riding, canoeing, caving and bush-walking. How could the writer have this information, if someone hadn’t listened to this call to find out when I was going and which local girl would be on duty at my holiday camp?

Anyone reading the AFP transcripts from their interview with me on 26 September 1994 (see Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 ) will see that the AFP documented many examples where unless Telstra was not listening into my private telephone conversations they would not have been able to document what they had on these FOI documents.  Telstra has never been able to explain how they came by this information. At other times, this same person has also stated that he knew I had spoken to Malcolm Fraser, former Australian Prime Minister, on the phone, and when that conversation took place. (AFP Evidence File No 7) He insists I told him about this conversation, but this is not true. Again, Telstra has never been able to find a convincing explanation for their employee having this information. Obviously, Telstra was still listening to my private calls, even though I was then involved in an arbitration process with them and their lawyers.

Listening to private calls is appalling enough, but listening to phone conversations during a government-endorsed arbitration process where important information between two opposing sides is being discussed is a deplorable act if one of the opposing sides is to gain an advantage over the other.

What has been reported in the Witness K and Bernard Collaery phone-bugging scandal see abc.net.au court-document is a clear indication that phone bugging during a government negotiation process in 2004 between Timor Leste and Australia, was still happening even after the COT Cases exposed this unethical conduct to the government in January 1999. 

Absent Justice - Helen Handbury 

In 1999, while I was working on the draft of Absentjustice my story, I provided it to Rupert Murdoch’s sister, Helen Handbury. She was aghast at the blatant denial of natural justice that I had received. Helen twice visited my holiday camp and, after reading the draft, stated that she would have Rupert publish it. She believed he would be shocked.

Helen was astounded when she discovered just how much evidence I had accumulated over the years, partly because it proved just how long ago both the illegal fax hacking and the discrimination had started, serious discrimination that was handed out by those who had administered my arbitration process. She said that she had been really upset to even contemplate how much suffering and stress had been piled on to the members of COT, just because we persisted with our battle to receive a reliable phone service, not just for ourselves, but also for other phone-dependent businesses in South West Victoria. After reading the many supporting letters I had received from The Hon David Hawker MP when he was our local Member of Parliament, and seeing that those letters also showed quite clearly that many individuals from the towns around Hamilton (which was not far from where Helen and her husband ran their farm) had also written to Mr Hawker about the phone problems they were suffering, and that he had passed those letters on to me, so I could take them with me, to Parliament House, in Canberra.  It was then that Helen asked if she could read my book, particularly when I told her that the manuscript included actual proof of how someone with access to Telstra’s network had severely disrupted the fax process of numerous claim documents that I had attempted to fax to the arbitrator during my arbitration.

Helen was clearly shocked and believed her brother would likewise if he saw for himself Open Letter File No/12, and File No/13 which clearly shows arbitration related faxes had been intercepted by a secondary facsimile machine before being redirected onto their original intended destination.

Of course, 1999 was before the hacking scandal linked to ber brother Rupert Murdoch and the News of the World.

Unfortunately, Helen died in 2004. Some years later, on 26 September 2012, I sent a draft of the original version of Ring for Justice to her husband, Geoff Handbury, and told him about my conversation with Helen. I asked whether he could suggest the best way for me to get a copy of the book to Rupert Murdoch.

Mr Handbury replied on 17 October 2012 in a handwritten letter (with beautiful, old-fashioned penmanship that we no longer see). However, he was then 87 years old and although highly respected for his philanthropic support of many worthwhile projects in Victoria, too much time had passed and, sadly, he wasn’t able to help. Still, I have the memory of how the sister of the biggest newspaper owner in the world believed my “intriguing story” was certainly one that her brother should publish and I’m grateful for her comments.

As recently as March 2018, compensation was being paid out in Britain to the victims of the News of the World hacking scandal see  Mirror Group settles phone-hacking claims with undisclosed undisclosed-damages|Mirror Group settles phone-hacking claims with undisclosed damages]File No/13). All of those victims are entitled to compensation because their lives will never be the same again. The uneasy feeling whenever they pick up the phone as they wonder ‘Is someone else listening in?’, ‘Does someone else now know that I am going away for the weekend?’ Those memories for those British victims will never go away. I know, and so do most of the victims who have been subjected to this type of electronic eavesdropping into their private and business lives. 

And what about the lies sworn under oath by Telstra employees where the arbitrator's findings show were considered when he made his findings? 

When I alerted the Hon Dan Tehan MP, between 2015 and i2021, who is Minister for Trade and Tourism, that one of the now ex-Telstra technicians was standing for local government, nothing happened regarding his false witness statements received no response. In a letter dated 14 April 1994, from Telstra's Steve Black to Detective Superintendent Jeff Penrose of the AFP, he named this same Telstra employee as one of the Telstra technicians who used to listen in to my telephone conversations after a bell connected to my telephone service raised the alarm in the Portland telephone exchange that a call was in progress. This document and my explanation of it and my discussions with Detective Superintendent Jeff Penroseof of the AFP surround it ( attached Australian Federal Police Investigation File No/1 especially the fact this document states a bell would ring into the Portland telephone exchange every time a conversation took place on my telephone alarmed Helen Handbury the most.

This now ex-Telstra technician (the one which other Telstra documents show used to listen in on my telephone conversation) operated a shop in the centre of Portland. Living in a small town like Portland and running into this person on a regular basis often triggered a panic attack that caused my PTS to worsen.

Worse was when this person joined the Portland Tourist Association, where I had been a member for some years, I immediately left because my anger against this man was unhealthy. Had these interception issues been addressed by the arbitrator as they should have or addressed by the government, I would still be living in Cape Bridgewater, Portland. 

In summary: when I took my claims of unconscionable conduct by Telstra, the arbitrator and the arbitrator's consultants during my arbitration to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (the administrator of my arbitration), the response I received from the TIO was disingenuous because, when Mr Pinnock (the now second TIO) became aware I was about to appeal my arbitration award and needed TIO arbitration information such as what the AFP had concluded surrounding the phone and faxing claims which were not addressed in my arbitration as well as what the hackers had reported they had uncovered during their hacking into Telstra's network, Mr Pinnock wrote back stating:

I refer to your letter of 31 December 1996 in which you seek to access [sic] various correspondence held by the TIO concerning the Fast Track Arbitration Proc

The arbitration of your claim was completed when an award was made in your favour more than eighteen months ago and my role as Administrator is over

I do not propose to provide you with copies of any documents held by this office.” (See  Open Letter File No 57-C )

I could not appeal without TIO's vital documents, and the TIO office is fully aware that appellants will lose if appealing without the right documents.

Also, Mr Pinnock’s statement that “an award was made in your favour” is incorrect. Dr Hughes’ award was a payment of less than 11 per cent of the amount two separate arbitration financial experts stated I had lost. The award also did NOT make a finding, whatsoever, on the ongoing telephone problems that were still plaguing my business nor the arbitrator’s refusal to investigate his own technical consultants’ advice that they had still not completed their assessment of those ongoing telephone-billing problems, which the government allowed Telstra to address secretly (illegally) outside of the arena of my arbitration process (see  Absent Justice Part 2 - Chapter 14 - Was it Legal or Illegal?

The matters discussed on this website absentjustice.com  Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 

© 2021 Absent Justice

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All of the main events as quoted in this unbelievable true crime story are supported by copies of the original freedom of Information documents linked in the text.

Clicking on these links with your cursor will automatically open a PDF of the exhibit/evidence that a crime was committed. Using this method and following the various file numbers discussed in our various pages, you will verify our story. 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 the way we have is possibly a world first.

ABSENT JUSTICE HAS IT ALL.

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“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

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

The Hon David Hawker MP

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

Sister Burke

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

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

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

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

Cathy Lindsey

“…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

“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

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

– Edmund Burke