Monday, January 30, 2017
Two letters to Jane Supit, Head of Legal at Screen Australia re Producer Offset and FOI applications
Head of Legal
Level 7, 45 Jones St
11th Jan 2017
Dear Ms Supit
I am writing in relation to two matters:
(1) Screen Australia’s refusal to allow members of SA staff to meet with me
(2) Screen Australia’s refusal to accept Freedom of Information requests from myself
(1) On 16 November 2012, six months after Screen Australia’s first ban was placed on me, Ruth Harley wrote the following to me regarding the Producer Offset:
[in relation to] the Producer Offset, which is administered by Screen Australia as the film authority under the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997[…] subject to the usual requirements of the producer offset legislation and associated rules, Screen Australia will accept producer offset applications lodged by companies owned, managed or otherwise associated with you and will determine any such application in accordance with law.
Could you please explain to me how, in practical terms, I and my creative collaborators can apply for the Producer’s Offset without meeting members of Screen Australia’s staff? Such a meeting is, as you know, not possible as a result of the ban on me. Indeed, Screen Australia staff are not allowed to even speak with me on the telephone or communicate with me via mail or email.
On 2nd Dec Kent Purvis, of the Commonwealth Ombudsman’s office, indicated to me in a letter (copy enclosed) the reasons presented to him by Screen Australia as to why meetings between myself and SA staff cannot occur. In a nutshell it is that meeting with me would place SA staff at some kind of risk. The nature of the risk is unspecified.
In my letter to Chief Executive, Graeme Mason of 16th Dec 2016 (copy enclosed) I asked if Kent Purvis’ letter accurately reflected Screen Australia’s position vis a vis my meeting with members of Screen Australia staff. Graeme has not responded to my letter. I will ask you the same question, Jane:
“Does Kent Purvis’ letter accurately reflected Screen Australia’s position vis a vis my meeting with members of Screen Australia staff?”
If so, what is the nature of the risk I pose? And what evidence does Screen Australia have that I pose such a risk? Can you direct me to any one instance when I have posed a risk to SA staff either in a meeting or any other context?
I have been asking this question for close to five years now. I have been likewise asking what the expression ‘place at risk’ even means in legal terms. Screen Australia refuses to provide an answer. I recently asked a Barrister what the expression ‘place at risk’ means in legal terms. He shook his head and said, “I have no idea.” He further indicated that the only way to find out, given Screen Australia’s refusal to tell me, was by taking legal action.
(2) Chief Executive Graeme Mason’s declaration that FOI requests from myself will not be processed. Screen Australia’s FOI Officer, acting on Graeme’s instructions, refuses to accept FOI applications. My most recent such request was made on 6th Jan 2017. There has been no acknowledgment of receipt of this request.
As Screen Australia’s senior Legal Officer could you please direct me to the section of the Freedom of Information Act which provides Screen Australia with a legal reason to refuse FOI requests from myself?
Just as I insisted back in 2012 that I have never once intimidated or placed at risk a member of Screen Australia’s staff I now insist that I did not, at any time between May 2014 and May 2016, include anything in my correspondence with Screen Australia that was sufficiently unreasonable to incur a third two year ban; a ban that prevents me from accessing the Producer Offset and hence makes it virtually impossible for me to make films of any kind in Australia.
That Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron decided, back in 2012, to wreak such havoc in my professional life, based on a lie, was bad enough. That Screen Australia, in Jan 2017, continues to refuse to present me with any evidence in support of the need for a ban (supported by the SA board) and would deny me access to the Producer Offset is unconscionable.
I trust, Ms Supit, that you will not ignore this letter; that you will do me the professional courtesy of answering my questions and (a) instructing Screen Australia’s FOI Officer to accede to my most recent FOI request and (b) providing me with instances of such ‘unreasonableness’ on my part as to warrant the termination of my career as an Australian filmmaker.
Head of Legal
30th Jan 2017
Dear Ms Supit
I have received no response to my letter of 11th Jan. I refer to the following question:
“Could you please explain to me how, in practical terms, I and my creative collaborators can apply for the Producer’s Offset without meeting members of Screen Australia’s staff?”
Your lack of an answer to this question is hardly surprising as you know full well there is no way that I (and my filmmaking colleagues) can access the Producer Offset without meeting with members of Screen Australia staff. Given that I am banned from meeting staff members it follows that I cannot access the Producer Offset. This renders it impossible for me to work as an Australian filmmaker. You know this. So does Graeme Mason. So do members of the Screen Australia board. It has been thus since May 2012. Indeed, the intention of the 2012 ban, and the two subsequent bans, was to severely damage, if not destroy, my career. The ostensible reason why Screen Australia has chosen this course of action is that I intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia’s staff prior to May 2012. No evidence has ever been presented to me in support of this proposition.
The latest ban on me (May 2016) is justified, according to Kent Purvis of the office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, on the grounds that I am ‘unreasonable’. Mr Purvis declines to present me with any evidence of my ‘unreasonableness’. Given that Chief Executive Graeme Mason likewise refuses to provide me with such evidence I have made an FOI request to be provided with evidence of ‘unreasonableness’ on my part so extreme as to warrant the effective termination of my career as an Australian filmmaker.
On 16th Dec 2016 I received the following email from Screen Australia’s FOI Officer
Dear Mr Ricketson
Screen Australia has identified two requests for information made by you under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.
Screen Australia will respond to these requests by 28 January 2017.
The 28th Jan has come and gone! I have received no response. Could you please request of Screen Australia’s current FOI Officer that s/he provide me with a response to my FOI request this week?