Thursday, April 16, 2015

letter to Minister for the Arts, George Brandis, dated 31st March 2015

A little over two weeks ago, in yet another attempt to have the ban on me by Screen Australia lifted or, alternatively, to be provided with evidence in support of its necessity, I wrote the following to Senator George Brandis. I have received no response:

The Hon George Brandis MP
Minister for the Arts
Commonwealth Parliament Offices
Level 361 Eagle St
Brisbane QLD 4000                                                                                       

31st March 2015

Dear Senator Brandis

On 29th April, 2014, I wrote to you as follows:

Dear Senator Brandis

Following on from my letter of 6th Jan. Some questions:

- How much script development money did Martha Coleman earmark for Goalpost Pictures when working at Screen Australia before joining the company in Jan this year?

- How much development and production money has Screen Australia provided to Goalpost Pictures since Rosemary Blight became a member of the board?

- At the March 2014 board meeting, was Goalpost’s HOLDING THE MAN really one of the two only film projects deserving of Screen Australia production funding?

- Is there any limit to the amount of funding that the Screen Australia board can vote to provide to board members film and TV projects?

- Has the board ever knocked back a project presented to it by a board member?

Is it possible to even ask such questions without being accused of intimidating or placing at risk members of the Screen Australia board; of being banned for having the temerity to ask such questions?

The answer is no. Ten days after I wrote this letter to you the Screen Australia board banned for a further two years.

In reality, the Board has banned me for life as I have no intention of ceasing to ask questions such those above or of advocating on behalf of my right to be provided with evidence of the crimes that led to my being banned.

On many occasions now I have requested of the Commonwealth Ombudsman that his office request, from Screen Australia, evidence of my ‘crimes’. The Ombudsman refuses to do – proving a variety of “Yes Prime Minister”- type reasons for not doing so. The expression “Useless as tits on a bull” springs to mind!

Leaving aside the ban on myself, there is the question of whether or not it is appropriate for members of the Screen Australia Board to continually vote large sums of money to themselves and their associates. This is the elephant in the room that filmmakers dare not speak of in public for fear of being banned as I have been – whether such a ban be official (as is the case with myself) or unofficial, as is the case with other filmmakers I know who have been critical of Screen Australia and/or are not professional associates or friends of key SA decision makers.

You have presented yourself to the public as a champion of free speech but clearly such free speech does not extend to critics of Screen Australia.

From the ICAC website:

“The ICAC receives and analyses complaints from members of the public and public officials, and reports made by the principal officers of public sector organisations.
The ICAC has extensive powers of investigation and may conduct public inquiries to obtain evidence of corruption.
The ICAC also conducts research to identify specific areas of corruption risk.
The ICAC works to minimise corruption by providing advice, information, resources and training to public sector organisations to remedy existing or potential corruption problems, and helps organisations to identify and deal with significant corruption risks.”
I believe, along with many others in the film and TV community, that the risk of corruption is great in an organization in which filmmaker board members are able to vote to give substantial amounts of money to each other whilst at the same time banning fellow filmmakers who raise questions, in public, about the propriety of such rent seeking.
Before making a formal complaint to ICAC I will, one last time, request that you do all in your power to resolve the dispute between myself and Screen Australia and conduct some form of public enquiry into Screen Australia board members propensity to reward themselves so handsomely.

Eternal optimist that I am, I also request that you instruct Screen Australia to provide me with evidence that I have ever, even once, either intimidated or placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff.

My latest letter to the Screen Australia board, written 20 days ago, has yielded no response at all. If nothing else, Screen Australia’s lack of transparency and accountability should be of concern. This letter can be found at:

I have also attached a subsequent letter sent to Claudia Karvan  on 24th March 2015. It speaks for itself.
best wishes
James Ricketson

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