Monday, November 25, 2013

2nd letter to Georgie McClean re Screen Australia's $50,000 sponsorship of 'The Conversation'


Georgie McClean
Manager, Strategy, Research and Communications
Screen Australia
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007                                                                                                    25th Nov 2013

Dear Georgie

I have received no response to my letter of 13th Nov re Screen Australia’s $50,000 sponsorship of ‘The Conversation’. You have not even acknowledgment receipt of my letter. Is this because, as a mere blogger, I am not entitled to ask questions? If so, such a policy would be understandable. After all, why on earth should Screen Australia respond to every blogger with questions to ask?

However, in the past, when I have been writing an article for a mainstream publication, the same principle has applied. Screen Australia has refused to answer questions and senior members of management (Ruth Harley, Martha Coleman, Ross Mathews) have refused to make themselves available for comment or to be interviewed.

If Screen Australia refuses to answer questions from journalists that might be difficult, or challenging, or that it simply does not wish to answer, how can we who work in Australian film and TV ever be sure precisely what is going on within the organization and why? How can Australian tax-payers, without whom there would be no Screen Australia, be sure that their money is being well spent?

What is important here is not so much my question about the $50,000 and how and why it was given to ‘The Conversation’ without the benefit of discussion amongst Board members, but the principles of transparency and accountability according to which Screen Australia should be operating.

Who is entitled to ask questions and to receive answers? If not myself, wearing my journalist’s hat, who?

best wishes

James Ricketson

5 comments:

  1. I was planning to write a very cynical comment about Screen Australia's commitment to non-accountability and non-transparency when I received news of the forums Graeme Mason is organising around the country to talk with us in the industry. Wow! This is wonderful. And a change from what we have all become accustomed to under Dr Harley. A good first move, Mar Mason.

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  2. Reluctantly AnonymousNovember 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Yes, Freddy, a great start for Graeme Mason and I hope he’s ready for some tough questions. Here’s mine. Whether I’m game enough to ask it in a public forum or not I’m not sure. I hope so, but I do not want the asking of it to spell the end of my chances of getting funding approval from the Screen Australia board.

    My question has to do with the relationship between Goalpost Pictures – whose company director, Rosemary Blight, sits on the Screen Australia Board – and the Head of Development at Screen Australia, Martha Colemann - who will start work at Goalpost Pictures in Jan 2014.

    It is a well-established tradition in our industry that senior bureaucrats working for funding bodies hand out big chunks of money to companies they then join immediately on leaving their jobs. The question I think needs to be asked, given that the final decision regarding Screen Australia development money is made by Martha Coleman, is: “How much development money has Screen Australia, on the recommendation of Martha Coleman, provided to Goalpost Pictures this past six months - money that will now go to paying Martha Coleman’s wages when she joins Goalpost in 2014?”

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    Replies
    1. Deliberately anonymous!!!November 26, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      I am sure that Rosemary has to leave the room when the board votes on giving her company more money. :-)

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    2. It is small minded, petty and defies common sense to deny funding to the producer of the only successful Australian film of the last 12 months on the grounds that she is a member of the board.

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  3. Martha Coleman recommending funding for the company she will soon be working for is just the sort of nepotism that it is to be hoped Graeme Mason and Senator Brandis will put an end to.

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