The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Dear Prime Minister
It is now seven months since I commenced a letter to you with this question:
“Is it appropriate that complaints made about the Chief Operating Officer of a federal government body that invests around $60 million a year in Australian film and television are investigated by the Chief Operating Officer herself?”
I have not yet received from your office acknowledgment of receipt of this letter, or of any of the several other letters I have subsequently sent to you. I wonder if anyone in your office or that of Mr Crean has ever investigated the allegation above to determine whether it is factually correct or incorrect; if I am speaking (writing) the truth or am lying. Is it of no concern to you or Mr Crean that Screen Australia’s complaints process is overseen by someone who investigates complaints made about herself?
My experience with Screen Australia over the past few years (and that of many of my fellow filmmakers) is that facts count for little once a narrative has been decided upon that exonerates Screen Australia staff of any wrong-doing or to shift the blame for plain old fashioned bureaucratic cockups onto the shoulders of complainants.
My last letter to the Screen Australia Board, written on 28th Nov., speaks for itself:
I received no response. The Board has clearly decided that the most appropriate response to my asking for evidence of the crimes I have been charged with, been found guilty of and which have led to my being banned and effectively end my career as an Australian filmmaker, is to
With a commitment to transparency and accountability I have, on many occasions now, invited Dr Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board to present me with evidence of my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen
Lest the details of this dispute escape you, your memory can be refreshed by visiting:
This letter to you did not yield a response.
My many requests of Screen
Rightly or wrongly, cleverly or stupidly, effectively or ineffectively, I have recently fallen back on a technique that has worked in the past for others engaged in an asymmetrical battle with the powers-that-be: the non-violent protest. I have been arrested twice to date in the foyer of Screen Australia’s Sydney office whilst doing nothing other than sitting calmly minding my own business, doing or saying nothing to harm anyone, waiting to be provided with evidence of my having placed Screen Australia staff at risk. On many occasions now I have acknowledged that if I am guilty of this crime the ban that has been placed on me is appropriate. This has been an open invitation to Dr Harley and the Board to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability (not to mention natural justice!) and, in the process, completely destroy my own credibility. Neither Dr Harley nor the Board has taken advantage of this oft-presented opportunity.
On 14th Dec I will make my third visit to the Screen Australia offices - to be either provided with evidence of my crimes or to be arrested again. On this day the Screen Australia Board will be meeting to make a range of decisions regarding film and television projects. This letter, copied to members of the Board (and which I will post on my blog), is an open invitation to Board members, on 14th Dec., to provide me with evidence of my having placed Screen Australia staff at risk. That’s all. In the interests of transparency and accountability I will post it on my blog - even if it makes me look both a fool and a liar. If any member of the Board decides that it might be worth talking to me in the foyer (during morning tea, lunch) I would welcome the opportunity. What they might discover is that I am not a ‘nutter’ (as described by one significant Screen Australia player in this drama) but a calm, rational and experienced filmmaker whose crime is not that he has intimidated anyone or placed members of staff at risk, but that he has been a vocal critic of Screen Australia under the stewardship of Dr Harley. Screen
If, on 14th Dec, Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board decide, rather than to provide me with evidence of my crimes, to have me arrested again, so be it. On 20th Dec Screen
No doubt Screen
I trust that I may, this time around, at least receive acknowledgement of receipt of this letter from your office.
cc The Hon Simon Crean MP
Members of the Screen Australia Board