Sunday, August 28, 2016

For Mitch Fifield Minister for (non) Communication

Senator Mitch Fifield
Minister for Communications and the Arts
Level 2
4 National Circuit
Barton, ACT 2600                                                                                         

22nd August 2016

Dear Senator Fifield

Following on from my previous letters, not one of which you have bothered to acknowledge receipt of.

In a letter to my lawyer dated 9th August, Screen Australia’s Head of Legal, Jane Supit, justifies the organization’s latest two year ban on me on the following grounds:

5.1.  Mr Ricketson has engaged in a persistent pattern of unreasonable and highly offensive conduct towards members of Screen Australia’s Board Members and staff.
5.2.  On this basis Screen Australia has properly determined that Mr Ricketson is ineligible for funding…

Given that it would be quite unreasonable to ban a filmmaker for being unreasonable, it is my alleged my “highly offensive conduct” that needs to be addressed.

Is there any evidence at all, between May 2014 and May 2016, that my conduct towards SA staff and members of the board was “highly offensive”?

Ms Supit’s choice of words is designed to obfuscate; to create the illusion that there has been some interpersonal contact between myself and members of staff and the board this past two years. This is not so.

Between May 2014 and May 2016 I have not met with any member of Screen Australia’s staff. I have not met with any member of the Screen Australia board. I have not spoken with any member of staff or the board on the phone. Consequently, Ms Supit’s reference to ‘conduct’ can only apply to letters I have written.

It follows that evidence of my “highly offensive conduct” must be found in letters of mine written between May 2014 and May 2016.  Screen Australia refuses to supply any such evidence to me.

As Jane Supit knows, there has been no-one, this past four years, (including the Minister for the Arts) in a position to insist that evidence be provided in support of the ban on me.  Ms Supit knows that she can place whatever she wishes on file and that no-one will ask her to back up what she writes with evidence. In doing so she joins Fiona Cameron, Ruth Harley and Graeme Mason from senior management within Screen Australia in the creation of the fiction that I intimidate staff, that I place them at risk, that I behave in a highly offensive manner. Whilst perhaps not, strictly speaking, defamatory, such lies effectively destroy my reputation in the eyes of anyone who reads the files. And this will be the case in perpetuity; until these false allegations are revealed for what they are – false allegations.

Yet again I have requested of the Commonwealth Ombudsman evidence that, between May 2014 and may 2016, I wrote letters to Screen Australia staff and the board that contained anything that could be deemed to be “highly offensive.” I have been asking of the Ombudsman for four years that he insist on evidence in support of allegations and not rely merely on allegations. To date my requests have fallen on deaf ears. I have also been asking you, Minister, to request of Screen Australia evidence of my alleged crimes. You have ignored all of my correspondence. Or is it more accurate to say that Caroline Fulton has ignored it? That Caroline Fulton has not seen it as being of sufficient importance to bring to your attention?

Until such time as I am provided with evidence of my guilt of any of the allegations that have been levelled at me by Screen Australia this past four years I will continue to advocate my innocence and will, if need be, pursue this matter in the Supreme Court.

In many of my letters this past two years I have suggested and requested meetings with members of Screen Australia staff and the board to resolve this dispute. These requests have been ignored.  Perhaps Ms Supit  includes all these letters, all these requests for dialogue, for mediation, for evidence of my “highly offensive conduct’, as evidence my being ‘unreasonable.’

Mr Fifield, I would like to travel to Canberra to meet with you at your earliest possible convenience. I request that you place on the table, in such a meeting, at least three extracts from my correspondence that you believe warrant my being banned for six years for the reasons provided by Screen Australia.

If you accede to this request I strongly suggest that you read the following, in full. It is my blow by blow refutation of the charges laid against me from 19th Sept. 2012:

A quote:

“…some clarity on what has occurred this past three years is required – especially since it was you who effectively banned me as a ‘proven producer’ back in June 2009 and have so played a significant role as a catalyst in the initiation of the dispute between myself and Screen Australia – a subject to which I will return below. In the meantime, however, let’s be clear where we stand with Liz being ‘distressed’ by my email yesterday. Is ‘being distressed’ the same as ‘feeling intimidated’? If so, am I also able to claim, having been enormously distressed by the way that Screen Australia has dealt with ‘Chanti’s World’, that I have been intimidated by yourself, by Ross, by Claire, by Fiona, by Ruth Harley? Of course not.

Unless you are using a dictionary whose definition of ‘intimidate’ is radically different from the two I consulted (Oxford and Funk and Wagnalls), lets work with these two:

“To make timid, scare. To discourage from acting by threats of violence.”

            “Overawe with fear, especially in order to influence conduct.”

Have I sought to scare Liz or to discourage her from acting in any way with a threat of violence? Have I sought to overawe her with fear in order to influence her conduct?

Your use of the word ‘aggressive’ is also worthy of comment. My aggression has manifested itself in asking questions that Liz , Ross, Julia, Claire, Fiona, Ruth and yourself simply refuse to answer – transparency and accountability not being priorities in SA as it is currently being administered. That you should define the asking of questions, the repeated asking of questions that I have a right to ask, as ‘aggressive’ explains why and how it is that you can send me pretty well every letter and email I have written to Screen Australia and refer to it as ‘intimidating’. I am still somewhat at a loss, however, to understand how my correspondence has placed Liz or anyone else at Screen Australia ‘at risk’ – unless, that is, it is at risk of being distressed by being asked questions. Can you please explain to me what, in Screen Australia-speak, ‘at risk’ means? This is not a rhetorical question but I feel sure that it falls into the category of questions that no-one at Screen Australia is prepared to answer - standard SA operating procedure.”

‘At risk’ is the sort of language used in applications for Apprehended Violence Orders. ‘At risk’ was employed by Screen Australia in a crude attempt to present me in as unfavourable a light as possible. Screen Australia succeeded in its intentions. If you can provide any evidence at all that I posed a risk to any member of Screen Australia staff, please place it on the table in the meeting I am proposing.

yours sincerely

James Ricketson
Graeme Mason
Fiona Cameron
Louise Vardanega
Commonwealth Ombudsman

Australian Director’s Guild

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