Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Commonwealth Ombudsman passes the buck to a man who refuses to ask questions
Mr Colin Neave AM
GPO Box 442
1st September 2016
Dear Mr Neave
Kent Purvis has explained to me that any letter I write to you will be forwarded to him to deal with. Fair enough. However, as captain of the ship you are responsible ultimately for the way in which investigations are conducted by your office and should be held accountable for the failure of your staff to conduct investigations properly.
I need not add too much to what I have written already. I will make a formal request for a review but I know, in advance, that this will be a waste of time as you simply refuse to ask Screen Australia to provide evidence in support of the the ongoing bans placed on me.
The 3rd and latest ban is the most absurd of all. To quote Kent Purvis’s understanding of the primary reasons for this ban:
(1) You have referred to the actions of SA ‘childish, stupid and counter-productive.
(2) You have referred to the actions of SA as Mc Carthyism, directly tying the refusal of communication to your criticism of that agency.
(3) You have made reference to SA representatives as having lied, or being liars.
That Mr Purvis accepts these as sufficient reason to ban me from making any form of application to Screen Australia or from speaking with members of staff is mind-boggling.
Do you, as Commonwealth Ombudsman, believe that referring to the actions of public servants as ‘childish, stupid and counterproductive’ is a crime worthy of a two year ban?
Do you believe that drawing parallels between Screen Australia’s ban on me and ‘Mc Carthyism’ of the 1950s that saw certain filmmakers banned is a crime worthy of a two year ban?
What about my assertion that ‘SA representatives as having lied, or being liars’?
I have provided your office with ample evidence that this is a statement of fact; not verbal abuse. To call a liar a liar is not offensive.
The most damaging of all the lies told by various senior members of Screen Australia over a period of years is the allegation that I intimidated and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff in my correspondence prior to May 2012.
The truth or otherwise of this allegation, clearly, is to be found in the correspondence itself. As I have declared from the outset, if there is any evidence that I have intimidated or placed SA staff at risk I deserve to be banned. If there is no evidence senior personnel at Screen Australia have lied. They are liars. A statement of fact.
On countless occasions now I have asked Screen Australia to provide me with evidence, from my correspondence, that I am guilty as charged. On countless occasions now I have asked a veritable gaggle of different people in the office of the Ombudsman to request of Screen Australia that it provide evidence. They have all refused to do so, claiming that the question of the intimidating correspondence has already been investigated.
Let’s just presume that this is the case, though both you and I know it is not!
During your office’s 2012 ‘investigation’ your predecessor must have been provided with some extracts from my correspondence that led the Ombudsman to conclude that, yes, I had indeed intimidated and placed at risk members of staff. How else could the Ombudsman have arrived at this conclusion, if not by considering the evidence? This evidence must be in your now voluminous files relating to this matter. It would be very simple for you to instruct Kent Purvis to present me this evidence – just a few examples that leave no doubt as to my having intimidated and placed at risk members of staff.
This is, of course, a hypothetical scenario because you have no evidence on file of my guilt and no-one from your office has ever asked for it.
Now, in order to obtain this evidence, I may be left with no choice but to initiate action in the Supreme Court – a time, energy and money-consuming exercise to achieve the same result as a telephone call from you to Screen Australia with a variation of the following words: “Please provide Mr Ricketson with evidence.”
If Screen Australia cannot provide evidence, I am, by definition, innocent.
Kent Purvis argues that I have not been ‘banned’ at all. This is but semantics on his part. As you will be aware, in any small industry, there will be serious repercussions for anyone who falls out of favour with the organization that calls all the shots within that industry. In this case it is Screen Australia. SA’s ban on me has closed many doors for me. Indeed, it has closed most doors. This was the intention of the ban. To render me persona non grata.
By way of illustration please read the letter I have written today to the Chair of Screen NSW, Helen Wright, (attached) and the accompanying letters I have written to senior members of Screen NSW’s staff. Their refusal to communicate with me is par for the course for me these days as a result of Screen Australia’s ongoing fatwa – emanating from the original and demonstrably false intimidation allegations made against me.
I am not a whistle-blower (though I have been a harsh public critic of Screen Australia) but I am being treated as one. And the Office of the Ombudsman is giving Screen Australia its tacit approval to keep banning me (and making it impossible for me to work) unless I cease and desist from asking for evidence in support of the ban; until I willing give up not just my right to be provided with evidence but my right of free speech also.
If this is the way in which the office of the Ombudsman deals with legitimate complaints, the way in which it investigates, we, the public, have little reason to have confidence in your or your office in matters of great import.
Pick up the phone, Mr Neave, or send a memo by email to Screen Australia: “Evidence please.”
Senator Mitch Fifield
Ms Louise Vardanega
Australian Director's Guild