Tuesday, September 25, 2012

to Rachel Perkins, yet again!

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                                                                                           26th Sept. 2012

Dear Rachel

My letter of 17th Sept, as with my others to you, has resulted in neither acknowledgement of receipt nor a response of any kind. Ruth Harley’s fatwa re communicating with me clearly extends to yourself also. Can you not see how absurd this is, Rachel?

You now know that Stephen Nowicki, despite his apparent inability to read and understand the contents of Ruth’s 10th May letter, has ‘some concerns’ about my not being allowed to make applications to Screen Australia. Despite the absurdity of his implied suggestion that I make an application anyway, it is good to know that the smallest chink has opened up in the Screen Australia Board decision to ban me – even if the Ombudsman is a toothless tiger!

A brief review of some evidence is in order, though it seems I am working to a different paradigm to Screen Australia, for senior members of which evidence is of secondary (if any) importance. You now know that the ‘greenlit’ correspondence that Fiona Cameron used as her central argument to avoid dealing with my complaint does not exist. Fiona was being economical with the truth. In retrospect it must be obvious to you now that it was quite appropriate that I keep on asking, insisting, that Screen Australia release the correspondence that I knew did not support Fiona’s assertions. My doing so was not harassment, it was not intimidation and it placed no one at risk. I was merely exercising my right to have my ‘Chanti’s World’ complaint adjudicated on the basis of facts and not Fiona Cameron spin. Here, you might raise an objection: “But James, I have looked at the correspondence you wrote and it is as clear to me as it was to Fiona that you believed ‘Chanti’s World’ had been greenlit.” Fair enough. Point out to me which part of my letters reveals this, Rachel. You won’t, of course. Nor will anyone else at Screen Australia. This dispute has nothing at all to do with facts, with truth, with evidence. It began with a cockup and is now a coverup!

You also know now that Ross, Claire and Julia did not view my ‘Chanti’s World’ promo before knocking back my first application; that this application was, in fact, ‘compromised’ despite Ruth’s assertion to the contrary. Indeed, it is hard to imagine an application more ‘compromised’ than one in which the promo, 14 years of the life of the central character, goes unseen by anyone at Screen Australia! You know that Elisa Harris of the office of the Ombudsman failed to even ask Ross, Julia, Claire or Liz if they had seen the ‘Chanti’s World’ promo. You might respond with, “But James, I don’t know for sure that Ross, Julia and Claire did not see your ‘promo’, to which I would reply, “Ask them.” Have you asked them, Rachel? Along the lines of: “Did you see James’ ‘Chanti’s World’ promo? Did Elisa Harris, from the Ombudsman’s office ask you if you had seen it?” Two little sentences upon which so much hinges. For as long as these two questions remain unasked or the answers kept secret, Ruth Harley can continue to assert that my complaint was ‘investigated’ by the Ombudsman and that my applications were not ‘compromised’. These two questions must now, of course, remain unasked, because the answer to both – “No” – has been known to Ruth Harley since Nov 2010, so her observations about the results of the Ombudsman’s so-called ‘investigation’ are disingenuous to say the least.

By now, Rachel, I am sure (or at least I hope) that you have asked these questions yourself and know that my ‘Chanti’s World’ promo was not viewed and that Ruth Harley’s assertions relating to the Ombudsman’s ‘investigation’ are nonsense. And this is the important point here vis a vis the role that Screen Australia plays in our industry. It is not that I have been banned by Ruth Harley and the Board on trumped up charges, but that Ruth and Fiona can put in writing whatever nonsense they like and there is no mechanism whereby their nonsense can be revealed for what it is. Ruth can allege on 9th May, in a draft letter to the Board, that I have intimidated and placed her staff at risk and the Board, with no evidence at all in support of these allegations not only signs off on Ruth’s ban but changes Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade to make the ban legally possible.

My being banned is merely a symptom of the problem you need to address as a Board member but which you, along with your fellow Board members, seem determined to pretend, ostrich-like, is not there. I suspect that, just as Ruth cannot now admit that she has known all along that Ross, Julia and Claire did not view my promo without looking more than a little foolish, so too can the Board now not admit that it made a mistake in banning me without looking more than a little foolish. As I have written before, it may well be that Screen Australia’s counsel will be able to get my defamation suit thrown out of the Supreme Court of NSW on the basis of a technicality but if it does not…well, we’ll leave that to the Supreme Court.

How much more evidence do you need before you will, at the very least, decide that the Screen Australia Board’s conviction of me (for that is what the ban is, in effect) was ‘unsafe’ and that the evidence needs to be looked at by another judge, another jury? I have suggested an independent Conciliator many times. My suggestion has been ignored because a truly independent Conciliator would be interested only in facts and not spin and on the basis of facts Screen Australia’s allegations that I have harassed and intimidated and placed at risk members of SA staff would collapse like a house of cards. You know it. Ruth knows it. The entire Board knows it.

Rachel, you are confronted with two choices here. One is that you ignore this letter as you have my previous letters and do not ask any questions at all that might lead to the realization that you and the Board have cocked up badly in banning me. Alternatively, you could, along with the Board, do whatever it takes to get the right answers. All you need to do is pick up the phone and ask of Ross, Claire and Liz: “Was James’ promo viewed?” If the answer is ‘no’ the next call is to Ruth Harley: “How long have you known that Ross, Claire and Julia did not view James’ promo?” And, whilst you are at it, call Fiona and ask: “Which parts of James’ ‘greenlit correspondence’ reveal that he believed ‘Chanti’s World’ had been greenlit and why did it take you 20 months to send James copies of this correspondence?”

Honest answers to these questions will reveal that Ruth and Fiona, along with the entire Documentary Section of Screen Australia, have little respect for the truth, for SA guidelines, for the Public Service Code of Conduct and no commitment to the precepts of either transparency or accountability. But then the same can be said for a Board that has failed to ask for evidence in support of the ban Ruth requested of you all on 9th May and which you provided her with without debate and without giving the accused an opportunity to defend himself.

Again I ask you Rachel, if you were in my shoes, what would you do?

best wishes

James Ricketson

1 comment:

  1. James, you are beating your head against a brick wall. I would probably do the same if I was in your position but at some point you will have to accept that Rachel is not going to give you any support at all if it means that she has to betray 'the team' of people upon whom she is reliant to keep getting funding for her many projects. Harley won't be there much longer and when she's gone things will be (may be, hopefully) different.