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Chapter 4 The New Owners Tell Their Story

On the 6 January 2003, the Hon David Hawker MP wrote to me noting:

“Thank you for your correspondence received throughout December, 2002. Copies will be forwarded to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology, along with the videotape, “Phone Wiring Details at Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp.”

Did the government bureaucrats who received this video from Mr Hawker MP, pass it onto the Hon Senator Richard Alston, the then Minister of Communications and Information Technology? I know no one bothered to demand answers from Telstra as to why they installed this wiring is such a shallow trench with connecting cables loose in the conjunction box and with moisture seeping in and damaging the whole wiring system – the very wiring system Telstra rewired at the business in November/December 2002, six years after my arbitration failed to investigate my ongoing complaints of all three service lines locking up on regular bases. No one gave a damn, from the TIO and arbitrator to the resource unit regarding how my business would survive once my arbitration was declared over. The poor quality CAN and copper wire connected to my premises stayed in place until 2002 as a direct result of Telstra’s lies under oath during the COT arbitrations: lies that were covered up by bad bureaucrats (at least two of whom were then appointed as ministers by the Liberal government).

Absent Justice - Telstra+39s Shallow Wiring

On 28 January 2003, a letter from TIO officer Gillian McKenzie to Telstra states:

“Mr & Mrs Lewis claim in their correspondence attached:

That they purchased the Cape Bridgewater Coastal Camp in December 2001, but since that time have experienced a number of issues in relation to their telephone service, many of which remain unresolved.

That a Telstra technician ‘Mr Tony Watson’ is currently assigned to his case, but appears unwilling to discuss the issues with Mr Lewis due to his contact with the previous camp owner, Mr Alan Smith.” (See Home-Page File No/76 and D-Lewis File 1-I)

Was there a more sinister motive involved in Telstra’s technician refusing to help Darren Lewis with the ongoing phone/fax problems that, nine years before, Telstra and the arbitrator assigned to my case failed to investigate transparently? Why was this Telstra technician still holding a grudge against me in 2002/3 because of something my 1994/95 arbitration should have addressed – i.e., the ongoing phone and facsimile problems that this same Telstra technician was now refusing to help Mr Lewis with, nine years later?

Darren Lewis was so angry with this Telstra employee that he took a number of photos of the actual wiring that ran from Telstra’s pit to his residence and his office (the same office that was mine from 1988).

As part of his plans to renovate the house, Mr Lewis had begun to prepare for a heating system to be installed under the house but, in the process, as he sunk his shovel into a water-soaked area, he accidentally cut into a Telstra cable that was only buried half a shovel deep. Water from an overflow downpipe from the main accommodation block had been running off and collecting over the Telstra cabling that had obviously not been buried deep enough (see the following photos taken by Mr Lewis at the time).

According to the government regulator AUSTEL’s records, (see AUSTEL’s Adverse Findings, on page 5 under the date of May 1991 in states: "new wiring installed inside and outside office and main kitchen at Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp. Rented phone equipment replaced." It was this faulty installation that led to the cable itself becoming waterlogged. Yet, on 6 April 1995, during my arbitration, when I begged Telstra and the arbitration’s so-called independent technical consultants to run a series of tests to all three of my service lines and inspect the Telstra pit outside the office to ensure that the Customer Access Network (CAN) was up to the proper network standard, my request was refused outright.

Mr Lewis took 22 photos that day, showing just how poor Telstra’s workmanship was when the cable was installed. The open pipe was full of water and water had run down the pipe to the u-bend. After Telstra installed new cabling, Darren advised the TIO, the number of incoming calls increased by more than 100 per cent: this is confirmed by CCAS data.

So what was my arbitration about? Shouldn’t the TIO and the technical consultants he appointed have investigated why I was still registering ongoing telephone problems? It certainly appears the real reason for the way the arbitration was run was to ensure that the Telstra Corporation could continue to conceal all the problems created by their ailing copper wire network, and really, all the arbitrator had to do was grant us an award to compensate us and cover up the rest, exactly as it has been ever since, for the past 20-plus years.

On 1 September 2004, Darren Lewis’ (who purchased my holiday camp in December 2001) wrote to our local MP, David Hawker, stating:

“I must also reiterate my thanks for the pressure you put on Telstra in late 2002 – I believed it was this that finally forced them to re-wire the kiosk at the camp and disconnect the faulty telephone alarm bell which local Telstra employees believed could have been causing some of the problems with incoming calls. Although the incoming calls increased dramatically one the re-wiring had been done, the trauma of the first year we were here has not gone away.”

Telstra waited until 10 months after I had sold the business before they transparently investigated the ongoing telephone and faxing problems I raised during my actual arbitration and for six years after it was declared over. If this isn’t discrimination of the worst possible kind, then what is? Did Telstra make a deal with the arbitrator to ensure that he would only investigate old, historic, anecdotal phone and faxing faults and totally ignore any ongoing problems in the rural network that, if they were proved to exist, would open the floodgates and allow other rural customers to sue Telstra?

When I showed the Hon David Hawker MP that the arbitrator only addressed old issues and none of the issues that continued to affect other Cape Bridgewater customers and me, he arranged a meeting in Parliament House, in Canberra, with Senator Alston, the then-Minister for Communications. The senator’s staff agreed to investigate a 60-plus page report (and attachments) that I provided to them. This report was eventually returned to me – without the attachments – but with a covering letter from a Paul Fletcher, refusing to address the report at all. This bureaucrat is now the Hon Senator Paul Fletcher who, from 2014 to 2016, has been assisting the present Prime Minister of Australia with the problems associated with Telstra’s ailing copper wire network that has been the root cause of the slow rollout of the NBN.

On 26 May 2019, Paul Fletcher became 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).

As the new Minister for Communications,   I can only hope The Hon Paul Fletcher will now look at the evidence I provided Senator Alston in September 1995, and the more updated version of June 1996 and the more recent information now exposed on, especially as numerous senators found our COT arbitrations were not conducted lawfully.

If the TIO had allowed his appointed arbitration technical consultants to properly investigate the COT cases, as they should have, then that corroded copper wire network would have been uncovered and investigated in 1994, instead of in 2012, and the current Telstra shareholders would not be left picking up the tab. No wonder the Hon David Hawker was livid when he discovered that Darren Lewis was still having phone problems in November 2006, as our Main Evidence File No 3 shows.

I provided two photos Darren Lewis took to Senator Len Harris, showing him how deep the cabling was running: 50 meters along a trench less than half a shovel deep.

After seeing these photos, I employed a professional video production company to produce a video showing how the actual wall sockets looked when the casing was removed. I still have copies of that video but, in April 2016, when we tried to transfer it to a CD, we discovered that the quality was not good enough for use on the internet.

Back in December 2002, when the video was produced by Noel Waugh (Video Production of Portland), we sent a copy to the office of the then-Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston. Like most bureaucrats working in government departments, those who worked in Senator Alston’s office did not understand the relevance of the video in relation to my claims of ongoing problems and nor did they understand it showed how incompetent some Telstra employees were, particularly in rural Australia. It was, after all, Telstra’s incompetence, coupled with the fact that no one in Telstra really cared about the suffering of telephone customers, especially those with telephone-dependent businesses, that ruined the lives of so many small business operators.

If the arbitrator had conducted my arbitration according to the ambit of the Commercial Arbitration Act 1984 and investigated ALL of my ongoing telephone and faxing claim documents, then Darren and Jenny Lewis (as new owners of my business) would not have suffered. I was forced to sell my business because the TIO and Telstra did not transparently investigate my claims. Both the TIO and Telstra failed to divulge their investigation conducted on 14 January 1998, after my arbitration, showing it was apparent the phone problems would indeed continue.

If the TIO did carry out an in-house investigation into my claims some COT faxes were being illegally intercepted, but came to the conclusion that those faxes did not arrive because they were lost as a direct result of faults in the network – the very network under investigation by the arbitrator – it was deplorable for the TIO to not respond to my interception claims. Deplorable because, either way, regardless of whether missing documents were intercepted and not forwarded on or were lost because of faults in the network, ultimately certain claim documents of relevance to the COT claims were NOT assessed by the arbitration process as the Federal Labor Government when they endorsed our arbitrations.

On 4 September 2006, Darren Lewis provided the Hon Senator Helen Coonan, Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, with a two-page statutory declaration noting:

“Letters from us to our local Federal Member of Parliament, the Hon David Hawker, Speaker in the House of Representatives, led to Telstra visiting our business to investigate these continuing problems.

“After Telstra rewired the business including disconnecting a Telstra installed faulty phone alarm bell, we were informed Telstra had found other problems and believed who ever had installed the wiring had done an unprofessional job.

“Internal Telstra documentation provided to me by Allan Smith confirmed Telstra themselves had done the wiring.

“Jenny and I noticed that although our incoming-call rate had more than doubled once this wiring had taken place Telstra was still unable to provide a satisfactory reason as to why we were still having problems. …

“The technicians then in a hookup consultation with outside office guru’s [sic] did a fault graph reading on our 55 267267 line with the outcome that their office technical staff stated words to the affect [sic] the reading was impossible (couldn’t be correct). It was then that the local technician became quite annoyed when the technical guru insinuated that the equipment the local tech was using must be faulty. The local tech then informed the technical guru that there was nothing wrong with the equipment at all.” (See Main Evidence File No 13)

Most, if not all, of the COT cases suffered from sleep disorders and stress for years as a result of their battles, with Telstra’s senior management who continued to deny there was ever a phone problem affecting their businesses.  It was these type of denials by Telstra employees like Tony Watson after the COT Cases had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in arbitration fees after the government had promised would be fixed as part of the government endorsed processes that caused so much damage. 

Absent Justice -  Cape Bridgewater Holiday Camp and Residence

I provided Ms Howard with a letter dated 21 March 1999 and addressed to the Casualties of Telstra, C/- The Small Business Show, Channel Nine. This letter suggests others who ran afoul of Telstra had suicided:

“I watched your show on Sunday morning carrying the piece on Telstra. I was interested to hear of Telstra’s lies under oath, destruction of evidence, etc, etc.

“I started a lawsuit 2½ years ago against Telstra for breach of contract during their cable TV rollout. They have placed every obstacle in our way and dragged the case out to try to bleed us dry. They sent dozens of contracting companies such as mine to the wall by manipulating markets and breaching contracts. Only 3 companies have had the resources to fight them. Unfortunately two company owners have allegedly committed suicide due to the loss of their homes and families as a consequence of Telstra’s actions, although this would be difficult to prove.

“As a direct consequence I have lost my home, separated from my wife, lost hundreds of thousands of dollars and a twenty year old business and fought a very dirty legal battle. My other partners have had to sell or re mortgage homes and one has retired without any of the security he should have had from ownng [sic] a business for over twenty years.” (See Home Evidence File No/7)

I also provided another letter received by me, dated 8 November 2002, from a man in South Australia, stating:

“I am writing to you following viewing the Channel 9 Sunday Program on 3/11/02. After viewing the Sunday program, I realised the similarities you [sic] business and others had with Telstra some ten years ago with the similarities our building business had, when we lived at Bridgewater. …

“During this period of time I was on a call talking to a councilor [sic]. She believed that the conversation we were having was being bugged, or listened into, and we immediately ceased the call. …

“Our phone problem had such a negative effect on our building business over a period of time that our work dried up and or [sic] business shut down.” (See Home Evidence File No/15)

I believe Darren first became concerned about the possibility that his phone conversations also may have been illegally listened to when he discovered my accreditation file in the camp office, where I had inadvertently left it when handing the camp over to Darren. This file included Australian Federal Police/Telstra intercept documents, including one dated 14 April 1994 from Telstra to the AFP, notifying them that Telstra had installed equipment in the Portland exchange so that a bell would ring whenever I received an incoming telephone call, enabling the person on duty to listen in on those conversations. After reading the letters I supplied, letters Ms Howard drew up a Risk Management Plan for Darren to use (AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647 - See Exhibit AS 629), including a warning that, if Darren felt suicidal again, he should not only share those thoughts with his wife but also with me as well as with Portland Health.

FOI folio I00271 and I00265

I use the two following Telstra FOI documents, folio I00271 and I00265 (see Our Saga File N0 3-A to 3-C) as a testament that the TIO knew my ongoing billing faults continued for years after my arbitration; I can provide, on request, government records showing the TIO misled and deceived government ministers, over many years, concerning the validity of my claim. Telstra FOI document folio I00271 (File N0 3-A), dated 24 October 2002 has been used here to support that the TIO was fully aware of the ongoing telephone and faxing problems being experienced by Darren and Jenny Lewis after they purchased my business. This document folio I00271 states:

“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 [blank-blank] the previous account holder for this service in which similar issues were raised.”

The blanking out of my name does not hide the fact that I was the previous account holder of that telephone service.

The second Telstra FOI folio, I00265 (File N0 3-B), dated 24 October 2002, states:

“David Hawker MP has written to Senator Alston on 10 October and included a 3 October letter from Darren and Jenny Lewis. This 3 October letter has been cc’d to the TIO but doesn’t seem to have made its way into Telstra yet. Will follow in Cicero and respond accordingly. Hopefully, the TIO will become involved and that will take the Minister and Member out of the equation.”

I highlight FOI folio I00265 because it is a good example of how valid claims can so easily be hidden from any Minister in government if the TIO becomes involved. It is clear from the above statement that these ongoing faults at Darren and Jenny Lewis’ business would remain hidden if the then Minister (which was then-Senator Richard Alston) and the Member (which was The Hon David Hawker were kept “out of the equation.”

Numerous other documents on my website clearly show other government Ministers apart from The Hon Senator Richard Alston and The Hon David Hawker MP have been misleading and deceived over the validity of my claims that my arbitration did not address my ongoing telephone and faxing problems that in the end, left me little option but to sell my holiday camp.

I believe that Darren first became concerned about the possibility that his phone conversations also may have been illegally listened to when he discovered my accreditation file in the camp office, where I had inadvertently left it when handing the Camp over to Darren. This file included Australian Federal Police/Telstra intercept documents, including one dated 14 April 1994 from Telstra to the AFP, notifying them that Telstra had installed equipment in the Portland exchange so that a bell would ring whenever I received an incoming telephone call, so that the person on duty could then listen in on those conversations. I provided this Risk Management Plan (AS-CAV Exhibits 589 to 647 - See exhibit AS 629) to the Australian Government as well as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal during my 2008 Freedom of Information hearing – No V2008/1836.

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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 2022 to cover up the many crimes committed by Telstra during their arbitration defence of the COT Cases in 1994 to 1998.

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 Alan's 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.


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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

“…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

“…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

“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

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

– Edmund Burke