Wednesday, April 4, 2012
letter to Ruth Harley
5th April 2012
When I saw an email from you in my INBOX I thought: At last this will be Ruth saying something along the lines of “James, upon reviewing the matter I have come to the conclusion that the correspondence that Fiona Cameron refers to in her letter of 12th Nov 2010 does not exist, as you have been insisting this past 16 months. On speaking with Claire Jager, Ross Mathews and Elizabeth Crosby it is now clear to me that Ross and Claire did not view the promo that was the centrepiece of your original CHANTI’S WORLD application, as you have been insisting this last 16 months. And it is also clear to me, upon speaking with Ross and Liz, that Ross did say that your second CHANTI’S WORLD application was ‘appropriate’ – despite Julia Overton’s later assessment that it was not appropriate. For these errors on Screen Australia’s part please accept my heartfelt apology…” To which I would have replied, “Apology accepted.”
Instead of a response based on facts, based on truth, based on fairness, you have chosen, Ruth, to add yet another layer of spin to this ongoing dispute. You write, “…we have repeatedly, over many months, endeavoured to answer those concerns.” This is a lie. You have not endeavoured to answer any of my concerns. You have studiously avoided answering either my concerns or my questions and, when I have complained to you about Fiona’s playing fast and loose with the truth, you have passed my complaint on to Fiona to deal with it! And Fiona’s way of dealing with any complaint, of course (including those about herself) is “I refuse to correspond any further with you on this matter.” This is the standard of transparency and accountability you find acceptable amongst your staff! The mind boggles. It is because you have ignored my concerns, failed to answer my questions, that I have kept writing and found myself with no choice but to write to the Prime Minister. If you believe that you have answered my concerns, please direct me to the correspondence in which this has occurred. If you cannot do so, please do not place any more such nonsense on file.
You refer to “damaging allegations which I believe to be totally untrue.” Which allegations are you referring to? The allegation that I did not write the correspondence that Fiona refers to? The allegation that Ross and Claire did not view my promo? The allegation that Ross Mathews told me, in front of Liz Crosby and Julia Overton that my 2nd application with CHANTI’S WORLD was ‘appropriate’? If these ‘allegations’ are untrue, why has Fiona not produced the correspondence? Why have Ross, Claire and Liz not refuted my version of events? I have asked so many times and, as you know full well, if the three of them were to present an alternative version of what occurred it would be my word against theirs. Your use of the phrase “which I believe to be untrue” is disingenuous to say the least. By now, Ruth, you should know that my ‘allegations’ are either true or untrue – not that you ‘believe’ them to be untrue. Fiona can either produce the correspondence she refers to or she can’t. “which I believe to be untrue” are the kind of weasel words that let you off the hook further down the track if it is proven (as it shall be) that my ‘allegations’ are true.
Not only is your letter primarily spin it is also a thinly veiled threat. If I continue to demand that Screen Australia adhere to the precepts of transparency and accountability, abide by its own guidelines and deal with my complaints appropriately, I can expect to hear from your legal department. This strikes me as an ambit claim – the hope being on your part that the threat of legal action will prevent me, 16 months down the track, from wanting the record set straight. Such threats, such bullying, won’t have the desired effect. And the threat of legal action is foolish anyway as a court case would necessitate that Screen Australia produce the correspondence that Fiona Cameron refers to; that Claire, Ross and Liz answer the very questions I have been asking for 16 months. If Screen Australia really wishes to go down this route, so be it. A dreadful waste of Screen Australia’s resources I would have thought when answers to questions (my ‘serious allegations’) and an apology would suffice. And would have sufficed 16 months ago if my complaint had been dealt with appropriately.
Produce the correspondence that Fiona refers to (as I have been requesting for 16 months) and I will have a lot of egg on my face and will not have much of a leg to stand on in court. By not producing the correspondence (which you know not to exist) you and Glen Boreham (who also knows that it does not exist) have given your tacit approval to Fiona to place whatever she wishes on file – with no reference to the facts or truth. As I have stated (ad nauseum) in this instance it is just one filmmaker who is affected and of no great consequence in the grand scheme of things. However, if Screen Australia’s Chief Operating officer plays fast and loose with the truth and her behaviour is countenanced by the CEO and Chair of the Board, this is a matter of major concern for the whole industry. It should be a matter of major concern to the Minister, Simon Crean, but it is not. Perhaps my complaint has not made it to Mr Crean’s desk. It certainly should not have but someone within the Minister’s office, other than a spin doctor, should long ago have taken note of the implications of my complaint (most particularly Fiona investigating herself) and take some action.
I have published this on the internet because you have left me no choice if I am to achieve any semblance of justice here. If you are absolutely determined not to deal with my original complaint in an appropriate manner, if you are determined to add to the nonsense that is already on file, I will continue to publish updates of this dispute on the internet and allow my fellow filmmakers to make up their own minds as to whether or not my publishing is appropriate or inappropriate. Answer my questions, address my complaints and apologize and I will remove my correspondence from the internet immediately. Alternatively, produce the correspondence Fiona refers to and assure me, in writing, that Ross and Claire DID view my promo and that Ross did NOT say that my second application was ‘appropriate’.