Sunday, October 14, 2012

for Rachel Perkins from Screen Australia foyer

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street 
NSW 2021 15th Oct. 2012

Dear Rachel

Following on from my letter of 9th Oct.  

Your ‘concerns’, as expressed on 16th June (4 months ago!) have yielded no result. Mind you, nor have Senior Investigator Simon Nowicki’s ‘concerns’ resulted in any action on his or the office of the Ombudsman’s part. ‘Concerns’ has clearly joined the lexicon of words used by bureaucrats in correspondence to create the illusion that an appropriate response to a complaint is imminent,  thus lulling the recipient into a false sense of security that someone in a position of authority plans to do something! (‘It is my understanding’ is another favourite of mine – written by bureaucrats who know that they are defending the indefensible - lies, as a rule - but providing themselves with a ‘Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card (“I misunderstood” or “I was misinformed”) in the event that the indefensible can no longer be defended in the face of irrefutable evidence that  the Emperor - in this case, Empress! - has no clothes on!)

With only four days left in which I can make an application to Screen Australia for production funds for ‘Chanti’s World’ (triggered by a pre-sale) I have no option but to try the only tactic I can think of that remains available to me to induce the Screen Australia board to either ratify its ban on me (on the basis of evidence, preferably) or lift it and allow me to make my application for funding on 19th Oct. So here I sit in the foyer at Screen Australia waiting, (as I indicated to Prime Minister Julia Gillard last week I would) for one of four things to happen – number 4) being my arrest for refusing to leave the Screen Australia offices this evening when the cleaners arrive and Ruth Harley wants to go home. Yes, such a course of action is quite absurd and not really behaviour befitting a man of my age but then I am not ready to be put out to pasture just yet and certainly not on the basis of a vindictive Ruth Harley whim ratified by a complaint Screen Australia board.

My guess is that this dispute will be resolved one way or another by the end of the day – not because you or the Board have any real commitment to transparency, accountability, truth, facts, evidence, justice, Screen Australia guidelines, the Public Service Code of Conduct but because someone in a position to make the call will decide that having a filmmaker arrested for trespass in the Screen Australia offices is not a good look and likely to attract attention to a matter than you have all thought would disappear without a trace if you ignored me for long enough.

As I have written many times, my dispute with Screen Australia is merely symptomatic of problems that lie at the heart of the way in which the organization is administered – its commitment to accountability and transparency token only. The way in which Screen Australia is administered impacts on both the kind and quality of the films we make in this country with the support of the Australian tax-paying community. Is the Australian public getting a good deal? I think not. Others in the industry will disagree. This is as it should be in an open society. Is Ruth Harley the right person to be running Screen Australia? I think not and have, on many occasions, expressed this opinion in public. Others will disagree and this is as it should be in a creative community that acknowledges diversity of opinion. I suspect that it is my expressing my opinion that Ruth Harley is the wrong CEO for Screen Australia that has led her imposing, with the Screen Australia board’s blessing, a ban on me – in the hope that I could be induced to stop criticizing her. That I have intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff (the reason given for the ban) is arrant nonsense, as you know. As the entire Board knows (or should know), as Simon Crean knows (or should know if the relevant people in his office bothered to ask any questions) and as the office of the Ombudsman would have discovered if it had, at any point in the past 23 months, bothered to ask a few pertinent questions.

If I am lying about the intimidating correspondence, if it does exist, if I have placed Screen Australia staff at risk, please ask Ruth Harley to bring it down to the foyer and give it to me. In the interests of accountability and transparency I will post it online immediately and appear to be both a fool and a liar to my fellow filmmakers.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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