Thursday, August 23, 2012

Correspondence identified after 20 months

Movement at the station! At least in relation to one lot of correspondence I have supposedly written it seems that I am just a couple of days away from acquiring copies of it. This is the good news. The bad news (for me, at any rate) is that correspondence seems to exist that I have insisted for 20 or so months does not. This could be very embarassing! From the Information Commissioner's Office:

"I called Nick Coyle this afternoon to discuss your complaint....Mr Coyle has identified two letters written by you that he considers a reasonable person, on reading them, would form the view that you left a meeting in 2010 with an understanding that further funding for Chanti's World had been effectively green lit...He hopes to send you these letters shortly.

Looking more closely at your request I can see there is an element of subjectivity about it. I understand that Screen Australia might look at your letters and form the view that you had left a meeting with a certain understanding about funding. I can also see that upon reading those letters you do not think a reasonable person could form such a view....

As I see things, this is not an FOI issue, or even one that it is appropriate to agitate through FOI. Your real issue appears to be whether action taken by Screen Australia in relation to funding of a film was reasonable. If you are of the view that Screen Australia's response to your FOI request demonstrates there was no evidence on which they could have formed the view that you left a meeting thinking that funding for Chanti's World had been green lit, you have the evidence you need. That is, Screen Australia's view about your understanding of what funding would be approved had no valid basis."

My response:

"The important point here is that for 20 months I have been asking Screen Australia to release the correspondence referred to in Fiona Cameron's letter of 12th Nov 2010. It has not done so. I made a request through FOI on 16th March this year for copies of these letters. I did not receive them. The question of 'subjectivity' cannot arise until I have an opportunity to look at the letters. If, on reading them, I form the impression that any reasonable person could interpret them as Fiona Cameron did, end of story. I am in the wrong. However, one has to ask why it has taken 20 months to be provided with the correspondence.

The important point here (and it is not an FOI concern) is that the reference to the letters that Fiona Cameron made in her 12th Nov 2010 had the effect of making my complaint seem petty and self-serving and carried with it the clear implication that I had engaged in (or attempted to engage in) conduct that is, without putting too fine a point on it, corrupt.

As I am totally committed to transparency and accountability in this matter I will, if the letters suggest that I have been in the wrong all along, publish them on my blog online.

I am copying this to the Office of the Ombudsman, through which I have for some time now been trying to acquire copies of these pre-12th Nov 2012 letters/emails.

Thank you for your prompt attention, for calling Nick, and I trust that at least in relation to the corespondence Fiona Cameron refers to in her letter of 12th. Nov. 2010 this mystery will be cleared up in the next couple of days. As for correspondence in which I have intimidated or placed anyone at risk, I am keen to have the relevant paragraphs, sentences, phrases or even individual words pointed out to me that bear witness to my having committed such offenses.”

To belabour a point made many times before, my complaint to Screen Australia had nothing to do with the outcome of a funding application. It had to do with the way the application was handled – the most cogent evidence that it was not handled properly being that Claire Jager and Ross Mathews, by their own admission, did not view the 'promo' that was the centrepiece of the application – a 'promo' encapsulating 16 years in the life of the central character in the documentary – Chanti.

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