Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Two questions for Minister for the Arts, the Hon Tony Burke MP

The Hon Tony Burke MP
Minister for the Arts
PO Box 156 Roselands
NSW 2196                                                                                                      2nd July 2013

Dear Minister

In May 2012 the Screen Australia Board, on the recommendation of Chief Executive Dr Ruth Harley, instituted a ban on myself based on the proposition that I had, in certain correspondence, intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff. This allegation has damaged my reputation and the ban has made it very difficult for me to pursue the career I have been engaged in for the past 40 years.

For more than a year now I have been asking Dr Harley, the Screen Australia Board and Caroline Fulton (Director, Screen Industry Section, Creative Sector Development Branch, Office for the Arts) to identify one paragraph, one sentence or even one phrase in my correspondence that bear witness to my having intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff. They refuse to do so. I have tried to acquire evidence of my alleged crimes through FOI legislation and the Commonwealth Ombudsman to insist that Screen Australia provide me with evidence, to no avail.

My first question for you Minister is this:

Whom can I ask, other than yourself, to be provided with evidence of the crimes of which I have been charged and found guilty?

My second question:

Am I entitled, as a banned filmmaker, to be provided with evidence that I am guilty as charged?

Please, Minister, do not hand this letter to an Arts Ministry spin doctor who will ‘note’ its contents and ignore my questions – each of which requires but a monosyllabic answer.

If I have intimidated or placed at risk any member of Screen Australia staff, I deserve to be banned and to be publicly humiliated. Please insist, Minister, that the Board either make public the evidence upon which their banning of me is based, or lift the ban such that my reputation can be restored and I am able to continue my work as an independent filmmaker without the albatross of the Screen Australia ban hanging around my neck.

If the Chief Executive of Screen Australia and its Board are under no obligation to provide evidence in support of the banning of a filmmaker, what other decisions do they make that are not subject to the ideals of transparency and accountability that should apply in the administration of a tax-payer funded organization such as Screen Australia.

The enclosed letter to the Screen Australia Board, dated 21st. June, speaks for itself.

best wishes

James Ricketson

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