Thursday, October 11, 2012

for Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600                                                                                           11th Sept. 2012

Dear Prime Minister

Following on from my letters of 17th July and 24th Sept. I have received acknowledgement of receipt of neither and nor, of course, a response. Staff in your office, as in the office of Mr Crean and amongst the members of the Screen Australia board have no interest at all in whether the Chief Executive Officer of this tax-payer funded organization, Ruth Harley, plays fast and loose with the truth or not. 

Ms Harley, with the blessing of a complaint board, has banned me from having any dealings with Screen Australia on the basis of allegations that I have intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff. She has provided no evidence in support of her allegations and refuses to do so – despite my many requests this past five months. I have made it clear on many occasions that I believe it quite appropriate, justified, that I be banned if I am guilty of the crimes I have been accused of. However, natural justice demands that I be presented with evidence of my crimes and be given an opportunity to defend myself against Ms Harley’s allegations. Ms Harley has no interest at all in providing me with evidence. And neither the Screen Australia board nor the Minister for the Arts, the Hon Simon Crean, feel that it is necessary for Ms Harley to produce evidence in support of her allegations. The same applies for the Ombudswoman, Ms Alison Larkins.

On many occasions now I have suggested that the appropriate way of resolving my dispute with Screen Australia, given that the organization has no functioning complaints process, is for an independent Conciliator/Mediator to be brought in. This person should be someone has no vested interested in the outcome of an investigation and who is interested only in facts that can be verified and not in unsubstantiated allegations and spin. Intimidating correspondence from myself that places Screen Australia at risk is, if it exists, a fact. A verifiable fact. Whether such correspondence be in the form of a letter or an email it can be produced as a piece of physical evidence that I have intimidated members of Screen Australia’s staff; that I have placed them at risk. If Ruth Harley cannot produce such evidence, which I contend to be the case, her allegations remain only that – allegations. As a lawyer you know that you cannot try and convict someone of a crime (which is essentially what has happened to me) on the basis of allegations alone.

If the Conciliator/Mediator can find one paragraph, one sentence, one phrase or even one word that any reasonable person could construe to be intimidating or to place Screen Australia staff at risk, I will accept my having been banned as appropriate, apologize and publish my intimidating correspondence on my blog for my fellow filmmakers to read. If the Conciliator/Mediator cannot find evidence of the crimes Ms Harley has charged me with, my ban should be lifted immediately by the board and an apology made to be by both the board and Ruth Harley.

I am suggesting no more in this letter than I have in countless others this past five months – each and every one of them ignored by your office, by the office of Mr Crean, by the Chair of Screen Australia, Glen Boreham by board member Rachel Perkins (to whom I have made personal appeals) and by Ruth Harley.

No doubt your impulse, the impulse of the relevant persons in your office, will choose to ignore this letter also. Just to make it a little more difficult to ignore I have decided upon the following course of action:

I will arrive at the Screen Australia offices in Sydney and make a request to see Ruth Harley and to be provided with copies of the correspondence in which she claims I have intimidated and placed at risk members of her staff. Or with extracts from the offending correspondence. I will remain in the building until one of four things happens:

1) Ruth Harley and/or the Screen Australia board provide me with the relevant correspondence or with extracts that any reasonable person reading it would construe to be intimidating and to place SA staff at risk.

2) Ruth Harley and/or the Screen Australia Board provides me with a letter of apology in which it is made clear that the correspondence used to provide justification for my being banned does not exist.

3) I receive a message from the office of the Prime Minister to the effect that an independent Conciliator/Mediator has been appointed to look at this matter along the lines of the suggestions I made in my blog five months ago:


4) The police arrest me for trespassing and for refusing their request that I leave the Screen Australia offices of my own volition. In the event that I am arrested I will, no doubt, be released on bail on my own reconnaissance. Within the following few days I will return to the Screen Australia offices and continue to do so until such time as my objectives outlined in 1), 2) and 3) have been achieved.

Yes, this is an extreme (and absurd) way to achieve a just result in my dispute with Screen Australia but the refusal of the Screen Australia board, the Hon Simon Crean or the Ombudswoman to demand of Ruth Harley that she base her allegations on facts, on evidence, and not on spin and her own personal whim, leaves me with no other option.

best wishes

James Ricketson


  1. Yes, James, an absurd act of defiance. I donut believe for one minute that you will actually carry through with it but if you do you will make a fool of yourself. Are you having a midlife crisis or what?

    1. Freddy, a bit late for me to be having a mid-life crisis! As for making a fool of myself, this is far preferable to having my filmmaking career brought to a standstill for as long as Ruth Harley remain in power and has an acquiescent Board at her disposal.