Wednesday, June 13, 2012

"Ruth Harley resigns for family reasons"

Ruth Harley resigns for family reasons
This is the headline I long to read – ‘family reasons’ being a favoured euphemism in this day and age when senior government executives are either fired or asked to resign. 
When I started asking questions of Screen Australia 18 months ago I did so in the naïve belief that someone  further up the food chain than Fiona Cameron would ask her to produce the correspondence she referred to in a letter of 12th Nov 2010 that essentially brands me as being a liar. When it became apparent that no-one, up to and including the Ombudsman, was going to ask Fiona to do so, I could have just given up there and admitted defeat. This would probably have been the sensible course of action. And it was certainly the course of action Screen Australia expected me to take. But no, with what is probably a deep-seated streak of masochism, I decided to plough on and see how many letters I would have to write to get some answers. A lot, I discovered, but to no avail. No-one was going to answer any questions. So, I thought to myself, why not post my questions on the internet and embarrass Screen Australia, the Ombudsman, Simon Crean into answering them. No joy here either. Other than a half-heated threat to sue from Ruth Harley, no answers have been forthcoming. With no more bridges to burn I will plough on and see if there is any way at all of getting someone from the Prime Minister down to ask Ruth Harley to either produce the correspondence (or extracts thereof) or apologize for both Screen Australia’s cockup and the subsequent lies told in order to cover up the cockup.
My latest letter to Ruth Harley speaks for itself:
Ruth Harley
CE, Screen Australia
Level 4
150 William St.
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                    14th June 2012

Dear Ruth

It comes of course as no surprise to me that you do not respond to my letters since you have made it clear that you would not do so. It also comes as no real surprise to me that you have not carried out your barely veiled threat to sue me for calling you a liar in public. A court case would prove very embarrassing to you since, regardless of the outcome, any public release of the letters that you claim bear witness to the crimes you have charged and convicted me of would reveal that you are indeed a liar. The same applies for the correspondence that Fiona Cameron claimed existed back in Nov 2010 and which, as you know (and have done for 18 months), does not exist.

It comes as no real surprise to me that Glen Boreham and the Screen Australia Board have no interest in whether or not the Chief Executive of SA is a liar. The Board seems to accept unquestioningly the proposition that I have intimidated, harassed and placed at risk Screen Australia staff. It comes as no real surprise either that Rachel Perkins and Robert Connolly could vote for the banning of a fellow filmmaker without any evidence being presented in support of such a ban. And it comes as no surprise either, through months of silence and the lack even of the acknowledgement of receipt of letters, that Simon Crean is likewise uninterested in whether you have lied to provide justification for your banning of a filmmaker. And it comes as no real surprise now that the Ombudsman, whose office never bothered to ask Fiona to produce the correspondence she said existed back in Nov 10, is not prepared to ask you to produce the offending correspondence you claim exists. What does come as a surprise to me is that I am no longer surprised that Screen Australia is so lacking in adhering to even the basic fundamentals transparency and accountability. It would come as a real surprise if it did begin the behave in accordance with these precepts.

The Australian Film Industry needs, as Chief Executive and as the Chief Operating Officer of our peak funding body senior executives who are committed to honesty, transparency and accountability and who behave at all times with the highest degree of integrity. You and Fiona have failed the integrity test. Please just go. Resign for ‘family reasons’. And take Fiona with you. Alternatively, release the correspondence you and Fiona claim to exist and to be worthy of my banning. If you can do that, if I am the liar and not yourself, I do not deserve to be a part of the film community and my being banned is appropriate punishment.

best wishes

James Ricketson


1 comment:

  1. If Ricketson has not written the correspondence, as he insists, Ruth Harley has abused the power entrusted in her by both the Screen Australia Board and the Minister for the Arts Simon Crean. If Ricketson has not harassed or intimidated Screen Australia staff, if he has not placed them at risk (of what, one must wonder!) there must be some other reason why Harley has banned him. I for one am curious to know. One has to presume also that Harley would not make such a radical decision without the imprimatur of the Screen Australia Board, raising the question as to what was going on in the minds of the Board members when they voted? This question applies in particular to the two film directors on the Board – Rachel Perkins and Robert Connolly. Are they cognizant of the real reasons for Ricketson’s banning or have they seen the correspondence that Harley refers to as her reason for the ban? So many questions and no answers at all.

    I gave up trying to make films in Australia some time ago for reasons not dissimilar to what appears to be going on here – powerful Screen Australia bureaucrats (though they were powerful AFC and FFC bureaucrats then) who are never ever held accountable for their actions and who, through their network of friends, produce the bulk of films made in Australia. Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron seem to have become members of this club and all the indications are that Screen Australia is now a body that has been corrupted by the power vested in a small clique whose actions are never questioned by the Screen Australia Board or by Mr Crean. It is small wonder that our films underperform when it is not the best and brightest making the decisions but those who have been able to play the power game most cleverly and in such a way as to guarantee that dissident voices are silenced and those who ask difficult questions are marginalized. One further question that must be asked here is why it is that Australian filmmakers accept this state of affairs. Screen Australia is there to serve the needs of the industry, not vice versa. So many questions, so few answers!