Monday, October 8, 2012
To Rachel Perkins, yet again!
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021 9th Oct. 2012
You have ignored my letter of 26th Sept, just as you have ignored all of my correspondence since 16th June when you wrote:
Hi James, I understand your concerns. Unfortunately I was shooting at the time that the discussion occurred, so am not as informed as I should be. I will look into the matter personally, although given the majority of the board has made the resolution, the decision will stand for at least the near future I would think.
That you were not as informed as you should have been when you voted is a pretty poor excuse, Rachel, even if you were shooting a film. You must have been well aware on 9th May that the board’s decision to ban a filmmaker would be tantamount to ending his career within Australia. This was not a decision to be made by you or anyone else on the board without being very well informed. It is not a decision to be made without giving the accused (myself) an opportunity to answer the charges laid against him. If I had been given this opportunity I would, of course, have insisted upon evidence being provided to me that I had intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff. If this had not been provided to me (and it could not, since it does not exist) I would have said to the board:
“You cannot, with a clear conscience, ban me if there is no evidence that I am guilty as charged by Ruth Harley. Your job, surely, is to vote on resolutions such as the one presented to you by Ruth on the basis of facts, of evidence, and not on the basis of Ruth Harley’s spin or whims.”
Instead, in what amounted to an ambush, not waiting for a board meeting at which there could have been discussion (and, dare I say, evidence and a defence from myself) Ruth presented the board with what amounted to a fait accompli on 9th May. By the following day, 10th May, you all (or the majority of you) decided not only to end the career of a filmmaker but, in order to make it legally possible, to change Screen Australia’s Terms of Trade! As far as I can tell from the information that I have been able to acquire through FOI, no discussion at all took place amongst board members. How many other members of the board were not as well informed as they should have been? Is it customary for either yourself or other members of the board to vote on resolutions when you are not as well informed as you should be?
Ruth Harley has informed me in her letter of 5th Oct, that my having been banned by the Screen Australia board will be raised again on 9th Nov. Even if the board were to overturn the ban on 9th Nov. on the grounds that Ruth has presented no evidence to support her allegations of my having intimidated and placed at risk members of SA staff, it will be too late to take advantage of the pre-sale for ‘Chanti’s World’ that I have been negotiating with an international broadcaster this past 12 months. If the board can ban me within 24 hours of Ruth requesting that it do so, the board can lift the ban within 24 hours if there is no evidence to support the allegations that led to its being imposed in the first place. Alternatively, Rachel, if you are in possession of evidence that I have intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff, please provide me with copies of the relevant correspondence or extracts from it. This is not an unreasonable request. It is fundamental to the concept of natural justice that those accused of a crime be appraised of the evidence and be given an opportunity to defend themselves.