The executive director of the Australian Writers Guild (AWG), Jacqueline Woodman, today told all AWG members by email that the AWG had resigned from the ASC. The AWG has been the ASC's public officer since the middle of last year. The email makes it clear that the AWG's biggest complaint is against the previous public officer, the Australian Directors Guild.
'We could have tolerated inadvertent negligence but when we outlined all the issues to the ADG some time ago, the response meant it had become knowing negligence,' she told ScreenDaily.com. 'We provided a number of opportunities for the situation to be remedied but they were rejected.'
The ASC has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money since it was established in late 2005. When questioned, Woodman said the AWG understood that the ADG 'received financial consideration for undertaking the role of public officer' in 2006-07, which principally involves taking proper care of the records and accounts. The AWG has not accepted payments for its work since.
'When the ASC has worked together, spoken with one voice and stuck to the key messages on important issues it has got the response it wanted,' said Woodman. 'But our due diligence obligations became more important than holding out for the ideal.'
The ASC was modelled on the wine industry's council and started off very enthusiastically under producer Hal McElroy's chairmanship. But the wheels now appear to have fallen off: the website has not been updated for at least a year, and it has been invisible in recent debates, including the issue of Australian content under the new producer offset.
Asked whether it was a lack of attention and commitment from members that had allowed the financial mismanagement to occur, Woodman agreed that all members had to take some responsibility.
The other two members are the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) - SPAA president Trish Lake is ASC chair - and the equity section of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance. It is the voluntary presidents of the four member organisations that sit on the council.