Thursday, June 2, 2016

Graeme Mason, please produce evidence that I intimidated or placed anyone at risk? Just 3 examples from my correspondence will suffice.

I was banned by Screen Australia. 4 years ago - from making script development or production funding applications; from communicating with members of Screen Australia staff. I am hence unable to access the Producer Offset and my career as Australian filmmaker is at an end. My crime? Allegedly, I intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff with my correspondence. The evidence? None has been presented to me. There is none. Screen Australia is under no obligation to present evidence – a stance accepted as valid by Minister for the Arts Senator Mitch Fifiled the office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman.

Graeme Mason
Chief Executive
Screen Australia
Level 7, 45 Jones St
Ultimo 2007  

31st May 2016

Dear Graham

The banning of a filmmaker in a nutshell:

-       Pre May 9th 2012: Screen Australia’s Chief Executive presents evidence to the Australian Government Solicitor  in support of the proposition that SA be entitled to amend its Terms of Trade in order to both justify and make legal the banning of a filmmaker.

-       9th May 2012: The Australian Government Solicitor, on the basis of the evidence before him, accedes to Screen Australia’s request.

-       10th May 2012: The filmmaker, with the approval of the Screen Australia board, is banned by the Chief Executive. The charge? That he did intimidate, harass and place at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff with his correspondence.

-       May 2012 – May 2016: The filmmaker requests that he be provided with the evidence given to the Australian Government Solicitor upon which the ban on him is based. His multiple requests are ignored.

-       16th  May 2016: The current Screen Australia Chief Executive, having just announced an extension of the ban to six years, refuses to produce the evidence provided to the Australian Government Solicitor, citing FOI legislation:
“Screen Australia is not required to give you access to these documents under section 11A(4) of the FOI Act. This is because they are exempt from disclosure under section 42(1) of the FOI Act because they are subject to legal professional privilege.
This 3rd ban includes the following in relation to Screen Australia staff:

“Staff have been directed not to communicate with you in relation to funding as long as you remain ineligible for funding under our Terms of Trade.”

Communication with Screen Australia is essential for any filmmaker wishing to take advantage of the Producer’s Offset to produce his or her films.

The filmmaker, accused of a crime sufficiently horrendous to ban him from even applying for the Producer Offset (without which it is virtually impossible to make a film in Australia) is not entitled to be provided with evidence of his crime because the evidence is “subject to legal professional privilege!”
You have made it clear , Graeme, that you are going to fight tooth and nail to prevent me from acquiring a copy of Ruth Harley’s submission to the Australian Government Solicitor. And I will fight tooth and nail, for however long it takes, and however much it costs, to be provided with evidence of my crimes – a right that has been enshrined in Westminster law for over 600 years.

You will be hoping that the Ombudsman will defend your right to keep evidence of my crimes secret. And I, if need be, will pursue the matter in the Supreme Court with a view to obtaining a copy of Ruth Harley’s submission to the Australian Government Solicitor. And you will employ Queen’s Counsel  and a legal team (as Ruth Harley did in 2012) to mount whatever legal defence you can in support of the proposition that I should be be given access to this evidence! An extraordinary state of affairs. And not without its inherent comedic elements. And, of course, a waste of Screen Austalia’s precious financial resources.

If the Ombudsman  buries his head in the sand (as has been the case this past four years) you may well win out in a bureaucratic/legal sense and prevent me from obtaining evidence of my ‘crimes’. Whether your credibility will survive the ensuing court case is another matter!
And why will you fight so hard to keep Ruth Harley’s submission to Mr Ian Govey secret? I must resort to conjecture here; to the asking of questions you and the SA board refuse to answer:

Is it because Ruth Harley’s submission, the accusations levelled against me are demonstrably untrue? Is it because they are not nearly serious enough, to justify the termination of my career as an Australian filmmaker?

I contend that there is no truth whatsoever to the allegations; that you know there is none, that  the Screen Australia board knows there is none and the Ombudsman knows there is none. Or would know if the most fundamental of all questions were to be asked:

“Evidence please?”

I contend that as with Hillary Clinton’s speeches to Wall St, the contents of Ruth Harley’s communication with the Australian Government Solicitor must be kept secret at all costs so that you and the Screen Australia board can maintain the illusion that the banning of me was justified, necessary and must continue.

You can so easily prove me wrong, Graeme, by making public three examples from my correspondence in which I intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff.


James Ricketson
cc Ms Louise Vardanega, Australian Government Solicitor (acting)
Sentor Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts
Commonwealth Ombudsman

Australian Director’s Guild

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