Monday, July 16, 2012

letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard 17th July 2012

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600                                                                                    17th July 2012
Dear Prime Minister

I have tried, in every way I can think of, to resolve my dispute with Screen Australia on the basis of indisputable fact - the most relevant of which is whether I wrote the correspondence Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron claim I wrote, or did not. If I wrote it, the correspondence will be on file and can be produced on request – if, that is, anyone bothers to make such a request. To date neither the office of the Hon Simon Crean or of the Commonwealth Ombudsman has bothered to do so. If the correspondence does not exist, if I did not write it, my being banned is an abuse of power by Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board.

The pertinent sentences in Ms Harley’s 10th May letter are these:

“We believe that your conduct towards Screen Australia is unreasonable and that your correspondence places our staff at risk. We are under a legal obligation to protect our staff from harassment and intimidation.”

On the basis of these assertions, the Screen Australia Board banned me. Did Ruth Harley play fast and loose with the truth in telling the Board that the correspondence she was referring to is to be found on file? Or did the Board know that Ruth Harley’s assertions were false when it banned me? Glen Boreham certainly knew that they were! Such questions are not merely relevant to myself but to the way in which Screen Australia is administered by Ms Harley and to the role that the Board plays in either monitoring Ms Harley’s administration or turning a blind eye to beaches of SA guidelines and of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct.

Given the failure of the offices of both the Ombudsman and Mr Crean to request of Ms Harley that she provide evidence in support of Screen Australia’s banning of me, and given the failure of your own office to even acknowledge receipt of letters, I have been left with no alternative but to utilize the services of the Supreme Court of New South Wales in my ongoing attempt to get Ruth Harley to identify the correspondence she refers to in her letter of 10th May. To this end I lodged my Statement of Claim yesterday. That it should be necessary to do so speaks volumes of the failure of your government, from the top down, to adhere to even the most basic precepts of transparency and accountability.

I wonder if Screen Australia’s legal department will fight, with whatever legal arguments it can muster, to defend Ms Harley’s right not to identify the correspondence she claims bears witness to the crimes of which I have been accused. If so, the ensuing court case will waste precious financial resources of Screen Australia when all that was ever required and all that is still required is that someone in a position to do so – the Hon Simon Crean, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the office of the Prime Minister – ask a simple question: “Please, Ms Harley, produce the correspondence that you claim Mr Ricketson has written that justifies the ban Screen Australia has placed on him?”

best wishes

James Ricketson

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On the changing relationship between filmmakers and film bureaucrats

When I began my film career it was not a career at all. I loved making films and did so, as did many of my generation, out of a passion for my craft, for my art. A lack of money was not a reason not to make a film, and this was back in the days when film stock, processing and editing were much much more expensive than they are today. The Sydney Film Coop,which many young filmmakers may only be dimly aware of having existed, provided both the training ground for young filmmakers and a venue where filmmakers could meet each other and start collaborative relationship – many of which are alive and well 40 years later. This was a time when filmmakers made the films they wanted to make – aided and abetted by a film funding body called the Australian Film Development Corporation, soon the be renamed the Australian Film Commission. There were very few film bureaucrats then. The people making decision about which screenplays to back, which projects to invest money in, were filmmakers like myself who worked in the industry and who, for short periods of time (and often part-time)  assessed the film project of our peers. Six months, a year later, these same peers might well be assessing our projects.

The idea that lay at the heart of this system was the belief that a healthy industry was one in which film practitioners rotated in and out of the nascent film bureaucracies – bringing skills they had learnt in the real world of filmmaking back into the bureaucracies but not staying long enough to establish a power base. More importantly this rotation of filmmakers in and out of the funding bodies meant that there was a constant replenishment of ideas and a diversity of approaches to the making of films. The advantage for filmmakers was that a particular panel of assessor/filmmakers (there were always at least three back then) might dislike your project intensely but be replaced six months later with a panel of assessor/filmmakers who love your project. This is not because one set of assessors was better than another. It was because we all have our own different tastes and blind spots – as one would expect and hope for in a diverse film industry and culture. There were particular genres of film that were of no interest to me at all and which I acknowledged I was incapable of assessing with total impartiality. Not a problem for the poor filmmaker who did not get my vote since six months later another assessor/filmmaker with a different sensibility would be sitting in my seat making a different set of creative value judgements.

This was also a time when every filmmaker with a project being considered for funding (and I mean EVERY) had an opportunity to meet with a panel of three assessor/filmmakers to respond to queries, criticisms and to pitch their ideas. And to hold the assessor/filmmakers accountable if we had skim read or made some fundamental error in our reading – not hard to do when you have 40 applications to plough through. More than once, in my own experience, the applicant managed to turn the panel around with their sheer passion and with talents that emerged when they pitched their project but which were not necessarily there on the page. I can think of two such applicants from my own experience as an assessor who went on to become major names in film – not just in Australia but internationally.

So what do we have now? Gone are the panels. Gone is any opportunity for an applicant to pitch his or her project to actual human beings and to answer questions about their project. Gone is the opportunity for an applicant to engage in a dialogue, a debate, perhaps even an argument, with an assessor whose judgement might have been influenced by a blind spot of the kind that we all have. The free flow of filmmakers in and out of the funding bodies has given way to career bureaucrats who, if they ever made a film, did so some years ago. Some, many (too many) have never written a screenplay, never directed a film, never set foot on a film set. Some assessors (the titles given to these people keep changing) know what they are talking about and some (again, too many) are rank amateurs whose experience of the craft of screenwriting seems limited to the reading of a few books and their involvement in an intensive (and expensive) weekend spent in the presence of whoever the latest script guru who has flown in from overseas!
“We do not have the resources to talk with filmmakers,” will be a familiar mantra to anyone who has ever tried to enter into a dialogue with a bureaucrat at Screen Australia about his or her project. No, these development and investment bureaucrats cannot waste their precious time talking with actual filmmakers! This would cost precious money which can be better spent on films that, by and large, neither Australian nor international audiences want to see.  And why do they not want to see them? The reasons are many and varied but one thing these films all have in common is that the screenplays from which they were made were undercooked, underdeveloped or (too often) just plain incompetent. Of course there are exceptions, but not nearly enough to justify the virtual tenure that so many of these people have acquired within the funding bodies. And if they manage to develop and fund one failure after another, are there any consequences as far as their career path as a bureaucrat is concerned? No, it was a committee that made the decision to fund the development of this turkey or that one. No individual is responsible. No-one’s job is on the line.

Since its inception I have not been able to have a single conversation, not even on the telephone, with anyone at Screen Australia about any script development application I have made – and there have been at least 15 of these. This, despite 40 years experience making films. It gets worse. Screen Australia will not even read certain of my screenplay because I am not a ‘proven producer’. Yep, after 40 years of producing, writing and directing films (both drama and documentary) I am not acceptable to Screen Australia as a producer – not even of my own films to be made for a low budget. Mind you, other filmmakers with a fraction of my experience and in contravention of Screen Australia’s guidelines can nominate themselves as producers and be accepted as such. And this is the problem, or at least one of them: If you are one of the favoured set of filmmakers the Screen Australia guidelines are incredibly flexible (as they should be) but if you are not a favoured filmmaker (unofficially banned) you can have your application knocked back, unread, because you have failed to put a tick (literally) in the right box.

One of the screenplays of mine that Screen Australia refuses to even read (long before I posed a risk to Screen Australia staff) is entitled HONEY. Those who have read SHIPS IN THE NIGHT will find some similarities between HONEY and SHIPS in terms of the central character – the smell-of-an-oily-rag film my attempt to place a similar central character in a film that I can actually get made – even if I am a banned filmmaker:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

“A spokeswoman for Screen Australia did not answer questions.”

In an article in today’s Australian about copyright theft Tony Buckley is quoted as saying,

"I think it is up to Screen Australia now to decide what to do."

The journalist, having contacted Screen Australia concludes his article with,

A spokeswoman for Screen Australia did not answer questions.”

This is standard operating procedure with Screen Australia:

We will answer no questions.”

 What this means, in practice, is that Screen Australia is not, as a matter of policy, committed to the precepts of transparency and accountability – not to the industry, not to the media and not to Australian tax-payers. Senior management personnel are laws unto themselves, answerable to no-one. And they have got to be in this position because the industry, as a whole, does not stand up to the people whose job it is to service the industry and say,

“This is not good enough. Please answer legitimate questions put to you by industry practitioners and journalists.”

I have been trying for 18 months to get Fiona Cameron (Chief Operating Officer) to answer one simple question. She refuses to do so. I have spent the past two months (and made 45 blog entries) trying to get Ruth Harley (Chief Executive) to answer a simple question – namely:

“Please produce or identify the correspondence from myself that you believe bears witness to my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk Screen Australia staff.”

Harley refuses to do so. Glen Boreham, as Chair of Screen Australia refuses to ask Harley to do so or to take any interest in the matter at all. Like Harley, Boreham does not even bother to acknowledge receipt of letters. The same applies for the office of our minister, Simon Crean. Would this be the case if the industry as a whole (as opposed to its various guilds and associations doing so separately) stood up to Screen Australia and refused to accept “We will not answer questions” as an acceptable response to legitimate questions?

I have written too many words now in relation to my complaint about Harley’s and Cameron’s lies and must now leave the matter in the hands of the Supreme Court. Yes, this is absurd but I have run out of options as far as getting Harley to release the offending correspondence.

I am suing Ruth Harley and Fiona Cameron for $1 – plus the costs involved in lodging a Statement of Claim with the Supreme Court of NSW, which is around $1,000. Within 28 days Harley and Cameron will be obliged to either file a defence or be in default of the court. The only defence that they will be able to present will be the correspondence from myself that has placed Screen Australia staff at risk etc. Given that the correspondence does not exist, this will present them with a significant problem. I imagine that Screen Australia’s legal department will have some tricks up its sleeve and may play them – in which case I will be making another blog entry on this farce in 28 days or so.

Monday, July 9, 2012

letter to Rachel Perkins 10th July 20012

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                                                                                10th July 2012

Dear Rachel

My letters of 26th June and 4th July are, it seems, subject to Ruth Harley’s edict that no correspondence will be entered into with me about the correspondence Ruth claims I have written but which I have not! What a bizarre, Kafkaesque state of affairs! Is Screen Australia no longer even interested in going through the motions of appearing transparent and accountable?

Forgotten in this 18 month long  dispute is the fact that it is about a self-funded documentary I have been working on for 16 years. CHANTI’S WORLD has attracted the interest of a broadcaster and a pre-sale offer has been made that makes me eligible to apply to Screen Australia for post production funds. I cannot make an application, however, since Ruth Harley has made it clear that no correspondence from me will be read. I cannot even speak with anyone at Screen Australia on the telephone about CHANTI’S WORLD! How can you and the Board countenance this state of affairs, Rachel? Is Screen Australia in the business of assisting all filmmakers whose projects are eligible for funding in accordance with SA guidelines? Or is it OK with the Board that senior management can decide, on trumped up charges, not to provide assistance to critics or others who, for whatever reason, they do not like? My banning, a form of creative knee-capping, is behaviour that one would expect a mafia-like organization; not from a federally funded organization such as Screen Australia.

Ruth’s fatwa, is unbelievably petty and stupid – especially since based on a lie. And you know it is a lie. And Glen Boreham knows it is a lie. And so would the Ombudsman and the office of Mr Crean if either bothered to ask Ruth to produce my supposedly intimidating correspondence. It seems that it is now too late for anyone to make this request of Ruth since the revelation that it does not exist would highlight the fact that no-one has requested to see it to date – thus raising awkward questions about the competence of those who should have demanded to see the correspondence two months ago or, in the case of Fiona Cameron’s reference to non-existent correspondence, 18 months ago. It should not be necessary for a filmmaker to have to resort to the Supreme Court in order to get Screen Australia to release the correspondence in the process of defending a defamation suit!

If you believe, Rachel,  that I have been unjustly banned by Screen Australia (and you have had ample time now to figure out whether or not this is so) the honourable thing to do would be to offer your resignation if the Board refuses to rescind its decision to ban me. Glen Boreham will not accept your resignation as he knows (and has done for a long time) that there is no substance to Ruth Harley’s allegations of harassment, intimidation and placing her staff at risk.

In the absence of a written apology from the Board and Ruth Harley and a lifting of the ban on me I will lodge my Statement of Claim with the Supreme Court of NSW (Common Law, Defamation List) early next week.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Reflections on being a banned filmmaker

Not only have I been banned by Screen Australia, I have also been effectively banned by Encore. Even when the magazine published an article about my banning ( the online conversation about it was brought to a fairly rapid end when it too was censored. Encore will not now publish anything I write or respond to my emails. Perhaps the editor has bought the Screen Australia line that communicating with me would place the magazine at risk? Perhaps Encore doesn’t want to offend anyone at Screen Australia by publishing anything critical of the organization? Perhaps the magazine doesn’t want to receive threatening letters from the Screen Australia legal department? Or perhaps it is simply Encore’s desire (policy?) to no longer engage in or encourage robust debate online about issues of importance to filmmakers. I have no idea. I for one remember fondly remember such debates. I also think that they are important – not just @ Encore online but throughout the industry.  

As William Goldman famously wrote, ‘No one know anything.’ We are each and every one of us taking educated guesses when we sit down to write a screenplay, when we decide, as producers, to take a project under our wing and nurture it for a few years, when we make judgments, as assessors or readers that this screenplay has box office potential but that one does not, when we decide as film bureaucrats that this film will do well at the box office and this one will not.

The lack of box-office success both in Australia and overseas of most Australian films bears witness to the fact that most of us get it wrong most of the time. We are not alone in this, of course. The same applies elsewhere in the world, including Hollywood. The differences between Australia and Hollywood are many but one is that failure is not rewarded in Hollywood. There are only so many films you can produce, finance, gear into production that audiences do not want to see before you lose your job. In Australia, failure is no impediment  to advancement (and virtual tenure) – especially not amongst the senior bureaucrats in positions of considerable creative power when it comes to deciding which films get made and which are left to wither on the vine.  These people are not subject to any form of assessment – as are screenwriters, directors and producers. They can fail demonstrably year in year out to develop and invest in films that audiences want to see and keep their jobs. And both the industry and art of Australian film suffer as a result.

There is another and more serious problem with the fact that senior management at Screen Australia is subject to no form of assessment of the decisions they make. In conjunction with the lack of a functioning complaints process within Screen Australia, the lack of appropriate scrutiny leaves open the possibility that these key decision-makers can continue to fund one group of filmmakers regardless of their track records and to ignore another group – again, regardless of their track records.

God only knows what possessed Ruth Harley to actually write a letter in which she made my banning official. A ban had effectively been in place for a couple of years anyway and could have continued well into the future if Harley had not written her letter of 10th May. My own drama here will play itself out in the fullness of time. Even if it is of little interest to other filmmakers it should, I think, be of interest and concern that any filmmaker who displeases or criticizes Screen Australia can wind up on an unofficial ‘banned’ list. I doubt very much, after this one foray into banning that the Screen Australia Board will vote for another one. Best to keep who is on the ‘banned’ list (and, of course, the ‘favoured’ list) confidential! That way, if the unofficially ‘banned’ filmmaker should decide to complain, s/he can be dismissed as merely angry and embittered at not receiving funding. The way to minimize the problems inherent in both ‘banned’ and ‘favoured’ lists is to not allow senior management bureaucrats in creative decision-making positions to stay in their jobs long enough to formulate such lists.

More than one filmmaking friend has questioned the wisdom of my continuing with my battle with Screen Australia – a battle which, they assure me, I cannot win. (We shall see!) More importantly they are concerned that my life is now consumed with doing battle with Screen Australia. Not so. My life is consumed with writing screenplays and developing a variety of projects. I am not able, of course, to discuss any of these with anyone at Screen Australia as such discussion, even on the telephone, would place them at risk! Of what, you might ask? No, actually, you can’t ask. Ruth Harley has pronounced that there will be no questions answered!

I was on the verge of making an application to Screen Australia for script and other development funds for an ultra-low budget feature when Harley handed down her fatwa. Damn! Bad timing. However, there is more than one way to skin a cat, so (excuse the mixing of metaphors here) rather than crying into my milk I will make my next feature film for a close-to-zero-budget. It is entitled SHIPS IN THE NIGHT and, on the off chance that any interested actors or film crew might be following my blog, here’s a link to Act One of my screenplay. It’s set almost entirely inside a taxi so can be made on the smell of an oily rag:
I am also in need of a co-producer.

And for anyone interested, here are the links to articles I wrote for Encore before I became persona non grata with the magazine. The articles are less interesting than the debate that followed – the kind of debate that Screen Australia hates because it has, at its heart, a demand from the film community (or at least a segment of former Encore readers) that the body (along with other film funding bodies) be transparent and accountable in its dealing with the industry.

Surely, there’s no way a simple interview request could result in an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption? Think again. Filmmaker James Ricketson says “in the Alice in Wonderland meets Kafka Comedy of Errors that is the NSW government, such things are not only possible but par for the course!”

James Ricketson finally got the answers he was looking for. In this guest post, he discusses the Aurora development program with Screen NSW.
It all began with a simple interview request: ‘Would love to talk with you or whoever the relevant person is at Screen NSW about the Aurora initiative.’

Filmmaker James Ricketson applied for script development funding using a pseudonym and a fake ABN number but the result was counterproductive, to say the least. Should artists be allowed to use pseudonyms when applying for public funding…

Imagine this: you are working as a film bureaucrat for a state or federal film funding body. You have been in the industry for long enough to be a friend or acquaintance of many of the filmmakers whose applications you must assess…

In 2012, Screen NSW will have a new Chief Executive.  Hopefully this will result in some new approaches to the development of screenplays and the funding of films being tried out. Hopefully also NSW filmmakers will contribute their own ideas…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard

The Hon Julia Gillard MP
Prime Minister
Parliament House
Canberra, ACT 2600                                                                                    29th June 2012
Dear Prime Minister

It is now four months since I write to you on Feb. 27th regarding Screen Australia. I have yet to receive acknowledgement of receipt of my letter. The most pertinent question in my letter was:
Is it appropriate that complaints made about the Chief Operating Officer of a federal government body that invests around $60 million a year in Australian film and television are investigated by the Chief Operating Officer herself?

There were other questions relevant to myself but this is the one that I would have thought would catch the attention of the relevant person in your office and lead to a few questions being asked: “Is Mr Ricketson speaking the truth or is he mistaken in his assertion that Fiona Cameron investigates complaints made about herself?”   Clearly, someone within your office has decided that, true or untrue, the implications of my question are best left unexamined. The same applies to the office of Mr Crean, the office of the Ombudsman, to the Chair of the Screen Australia Board, Glen Boreham.   

In my letter of 27th Feb I wrote to you:

A member of the public who asks such a question is left with two choices: resign themselves to the fact that no answer will be forthcoming or keep asking the question until someone, at some level of government, answers it.  If that person is the Prime Minister, so be it. To choose the latter course exposes the questioner to the accusation that s/he is a ‘vexatious complainant’ whose questions need not be answered because they have been asked so often – a neat and all too familiar tactic used by bureaucrats in the supposedly transparent and accountable era in which we live.

A couple of months after my letter to you of 27th Feb the Screen Australia Board voted to ban me from having any further dealings with Screen Australia. No evidence has been presented to me to back up the allegations made by Ruth Harley. Again, neither the office of Mr Crean nor the office of the Ombudsman see it as their role to ask Ruth Harley to provide evidence.

With all avenues of appeal closed to me (and in the absence of any evidence of the offences I have supposedly committed) I am left with two options: (1) Sue Ruth Harley for defamation – a process that would oblige her to make public the correspondence she claims as evidence of my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of her staff.  Or (2) Occupy the offices of Screen Australia in Sydney until such time as Ruth Harley presents me with copies of my offending correspondence.  If I decide on option (2) (option (1) being expensive, time consuming and not likely to result in an outcome in the near future), in ‘occupying’ Screen Australia’s Sydney office I will not intimidate, harass or place at risk any member of Screen Australia staff. I will merely sit, with a few good books to read, and wait for an audience with Ms Harley.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

letter to Rachel Perkins

Rachel Perkins
Blackfella Films
10 Cecil Street
NSW 2021                                                                                                4th July 2012

Dear Rachel

Imagine this: I allege, in writing, that you have sent me correspondence that has threatened and harassed me, placed me at risk. You know that you have not. What is your first impulse? To ask James Ricketson to produce the correspondence he is referring to, perhaps? So, you do that. James Ricketson ignores you. Not surprising, really, since in the same letter that he accused you or harassing and intimidating him he also made it clear that he would enter into no correspondence with you about his allegations.

You can see where I am going with this – trying to get you to see being falsely accused and banned as happening to you as opposed to a fellow filmmaker.  So what would you do if you were in my position, Rachel? You did not get to where you are now as a filmmaker without being a fighter so I imagine you would fight – especially since the allegations that I have made and presented to the Screen Australia Board (in this scenario I am Chief Executive and you are not a member of the Board) seriously impede your ability to work as a filmmaker in an industry in which you are so dependent, in so many ways, on Screen Australia. Imagine having tried to do any of the work you have done as a filmmaker this past few years with a Screen Australia ban on you forbidding you from even speaking with members of Screen Australia staff, let alone provide you with script development funds or production investment? And this ban based on correspondence that you know does not exist!

None of this is, of course, news. I alerted both yourself and Robert Connolly to this propensity on the part of senior management at Screen Australia to make reference to correspondence that does not exist and then refuse to communicate about it further. This does seem to be standard operating procedure at Screen Australia as it tries to rid itself of a troublesome filmmaker. It is a ploy that only works if the Screen Australia Board does not ask to see the correspondence and if Simon Crean and the Ombudsman likewise bury their heads in the sand like Ostriches.

I spent some time yesterday at the Supreme Court on NSW and am well aware of what I need to do in order to make a Statement of Claim in the Common Law Division to sue Ruth Harley for defamation.  Ruth will have 28 days to file a defence if she is not to be in default. Her defence will be, can only be, copies of the correspondence I have supposedly written that contain evidence of my having intimidated, harassed and placed at risk members of Screen Australia staff.

I imagine that the Screen Australia legal department (whose understanding of the law is hopefully somewhat better than my own) could, if it chose, play all sorts of lawerly games to either keep this matter out of the court or to redefine ‘intimidation’ and ‘harassment’ such that even this letter to you could be deemed to be intimidating. I more or less expect it! However, my advice is that Ruth will eventually have to produce the correspondence. When she cannot I will have won the case. More importantly, Ruth will look very silly (I am being kind here) for having banned a filmmaker on false pretences. And of course, Rachel Perkins is going to look very silly (again, I am being kind) for having stood by and allowed this miscarriage of justice to occur whilst a member of the Screen Australia Board and in a position to prevent it from occurring.

Bureaucrats, like politicians, are roosters one day, feather dusters the next. Ruth, Fiona, Glen and other members of the Board will all be feather dusters within the next few years. You will still be making films. A new lot of roosters will come along and make a lot of noise and then they too will be gone and you will, I trust, still be making films long after your stint as a Board member is over. I am not suggesting here that your allegiance should be first to a filmmaker and only secondly to the Board. I am suggesting that your first allegiance should be to the truth and not to be a party to actions carried out based on lies. If I have harassed, intimidated or placed anyone at Screen Australia risk I deserve to be pilloried in public. If I have not, Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board deserve to be pilloried in public.

best wishes

James Ricketson

Sunday, July 1, 2012

letter to Ruth Harley 2nd July 2012

Ruth Harley
Chief Executive
Screen Australia
Level 4
150 William St.
Woolloomooloo 2011                                                                                    2nd  July 2012

Dear Ruth

Following on from my letter of 14th June.

You would be quite within your rights to sue me for defamation for calling you a liar. And I would be within my rights to sue you for having passed on to third parties documents that defame me. Either or both law suits would cost Screen Australia a lot of money, whilst costing me very little since I would defend myself. A waste of money, time and energy I am sure you would agree.

Even bearing in mind the dictum that the man who defends himself in court has a fool as his client, I would win the case because, as you know, the correspondence to which you refer as evidence of my harassing, intimidating and placing Screen Australia staff at risk, does not exist. It is for this reason that you have made scarcely veiled legal threats that you have no intention of carrying out.

I have suggested a conciliation process whereby some independent arbiter with no vested interest in the outcome would look at the relevant correspondence and make a decision regarding who is playing fast and loose with the truth and who is not. You have ignored this offer, one that would bring this absurd matter to a rapid conclusion – as could have been the case at any point this past 18 months (in relation to Fiona’s allegations regarding correspondence from me) and the past two months, in relation to your allegations. I suspect that you have rejected the conciliation proposal because, like the Supreme Court option, it is one that would require you to produce non-existent correspondence.

It seems to me that you have only one realistic alternative – to apologize for the allegations you have made regarding correspondence from me and for having banned me from having any thing to do with Screen Australia. There is also, of course, the ‘Ostrich Option’ – burying your head in the sand (along with Glen Boreham, Simon Crean and the Ombudsman) and pretend that there is no problem here that will not disappear if you ignore it for long enough. This strategy might work but the longer this drags on the more egg is going to be on various people’s faces when it does eventually become apparent (as it will) that the correspondence to which you refer does not exist.

best wishes

James Ricketson