Jude Perera taunts Vasan, Govt on IFFM

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In a hard hitting letter to The Indian Sun, MP Jude Perera brushed aside FIAV president’s suggestion he should have consulted the organisation on IFFM before making statements in the Victorian Parliament. He argued that the “sensible and clean thing for the Government to do is acknowledge mistakes, set guidelines and initiate a new tender process for contracts beyond 2014

Victorian Labor MP Jude Perera has suggested the coalition government is trying to “cover up” mistakes concerning the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) by roping in Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria’s (FIAV) Vasan Srinivasan as a festival partner to defend it.

“It is very unfortunate that the Coalition Government is trying hard to cover-up the mistakes rather than acknowledging them, just to grab some Indian votes,” the member for Cranbourne said in a letter to The Indian Sun.

Perera was responding to a media release issued by the president of the FIAV, a consultation partner for IFFM, that criticised Perera’s initial attack on the film festival. (Read more)

Perera kicked up debate in October by telling parliament he had received numerous complaints from community members upset that the festival was screening old films instead of supporting emerging Indian artists.  (Read more)

Some prominent Indian community leaders backed the complaints and called for more community consultation in the development of the publicly funded festival.

Last month FIAV president Vasan Srinivasan piped up, releasing a statement saying the Brumby Labor government approached FIAV to work with IFFM in 2010.

Srinivasan, a Liberal party candidate for the seat of Forest Hill in 2002, said Perera had a “short memory,” and should stick to his own area “rather than worrying about the film festival”.

Now Perera has hit back, saying that as parliamentary secretary in multicultural affairs it is his duty to raise concerns about the festival.

“Neither the Melbourne Bollywood and Indian Film Festival Tender documents nor the Official IFFM website have any reference to the organisation FIAV regarding their involvement or Community Consultation. It does not make sense for somebody with sound mind to suggest that Members of Parliament should consult FIAV before they raise matters in parliament,” he said.

“These issues were raised in the parliament around six months ago. Why Mr Srinivasn suddenly got interested in these matters now? Has the coalition government turned to him as the last resort when everything else failed?

“[Srinivasan defended] the Government by saying that the festival supported emerging film makers through a short film festival including those from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Unfortunately Mr Sirinivasan and the Coalition Government do not get it.This is the Indian Film Festival, not the South Asian Film festival.

“The festival was a result of the guiding principal to develop a relationship between Australia and India i.e. a platform for the film-makers and attract trade opportunities (Bollywood production houses and events) to Victoria. When the government is not complying with its own guidelines it is an uphill battle for somebody like Mr. Sirinivasn to defend the Government. In fact it is quite foolish to attempt that.

“Mr. Srinivasan should know well that the Bollywood Dance Competition held at Federation Square is not part of the film festival. It is deliberately misleading to make statements to the contrary. If the Coalition government made the claim that it is part of the film festival,either the Government was blatantly misleading the people or misused festival money for other purposes. Mr Srinivasan should come clean and declare whether he had a hand in it.”

“I am not sure why after exploring all the avenues the Government put Mr Srinivasn into it, for their defence. This was the last thing that the Coalition Government can do to protect itself from more damage. The Coalition Government doesn’t know the importance of having a Community consultation and engagement process and the [resulting] benefits!

“The sensible and clean thing for the Government to do is acknowledge the mistakes, set guidelines and initiate a new tender process for contracts beyond 2014 and start fresh rather than extending it by stealth and getting stooges like Mr. Sirinivasan to make hollow noises.”

The state coalition government previously threw its weight behind the festival, saying it had been a success and would be extended to 2015. (Read more)

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