Sunday 16 October 2016

AFTRS Update (1) - The Re-appointment of the Chair.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Film Alert, like The Shadow  sometimes knows.

…and sometimes the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. ….

So here’s to a big catchup from way back in April when, in response to questions at Senate Estimates hearing, AFTRS slipped a raft of answers onto the record and there they sat until the sleuths in true I F Stone tradition found them just this week.

These revelations will have to be posted in at least a couple of parts so if you are interested in the goings on at the national film school during recent days and years you might be wise to check back.

So first to the re-appointment of the Chair Juliane Schultz to a second term. It should be mentioned that this is the usual practice for statutory appointments and every previous AFTRS Chair has been given two three year terms in which to manage the institution’s business.

Way back on 8 January 2016 a Film Alert post here noted that  Professor Schultz’s term had expired some months prior and there seemed to be nothing happening to either re-appoint her for a second three year term or appoint anybody else. In February a question was asked in Senate Estimates Committee hearings about this matter by Senator Catryna Bilyk (ALP, Tasmania). By that stage it was known that Professor Schultz’s term had been extended by a solitary year. No explanation offered.

So a simple question was lodged about the re-appointment for a shortened term. But the answer is a very good example of the drop dead or bugger off quietly school beloved by today’s modern public servant and applauded by today’s Ministers and their acolyte staff. Here is the Q&A in full:

1. Has any previous Chair of the School Council accepted a second term for less than a three year appointment.
2. What were the reasons why the current Chair was not offered a three year term in a manner similar to her predecessors over the 45 years of AFTRS existence.
3. Is it proposed to make appointments to the other current vacancies on the School Council for similar twelve month terms.
1. No.
2. The terms of board appointments are a matter for Government.
3. Under the Australian Film, Television and Radio School Act 1973 members appointed by the Governor-General must not exceed three years. Appointment durations will be made in response to the particular governance requirements of AFTRS and its environment.
Frankly, the re-appointment for a year only was an insult. Professor Schultz herself has made no public comment nor reacted in any way to that insult and until she or some other conduit for her views ever offers anything up we wont know anything more of them. As for the Government’s reasons you can only speculate as to what was going on at the time when Schultz’s appointment was up for decision. This was occurring during the notorious Abbott/Credlin years when many appointed by the previous Labor Government didn’t get a further nod simply because they were Labor appointees. Peta and Tony played very hardball with that and most Ministers were probably onside with it. After all when you get into office you usually have a long list of your own mates you have to find places/sinecures for and the easiest way to start doing that is to tip out incumbents.

Stay tuned….

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