Published: Fri, July 06, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Nauru criticised for banning Australian state broadcaster

The Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery won't cover Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's trip to Nauru for an worldwide forum unless the tiny island nation reverses its ban on the ABC.

Media have a particular interest in Nauru because Australia pays the impoverished population of fewer than 10,000 people to house asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australian shores by boat.

"The ABC does not intend to vacate our position in the media pool covering the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru", he said in a statement earlier in the week.

There have been calls for other media organisations to boycott the Forum in response to the ban.

"No representative from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will be granted a visa to enter Nauru under any circumstances", Nauru said in a statement on Monday.

"We'd love to have you there", he said on Tuesday.

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Asked if Australia would ask Nauru to overturn the decision, Turnbull said: "The one thing I won't be engaging in is megaphone diplomacy but I have a very good relationship with the president of Nauru and I look forward to seeing him soon".

The island nation, which has since been forced to issue a statement in defence of what was clearly a hasty and poorly thought through decision, didn't realise its action would generate far more public attention than allowing an ABC cameraman in would ever have.

Mr Crowe said the Press Gallery consulted with the Federal Government about the pool arrangements, to benefit all Australian outlets.

"All Australians should be dismayed that the government of Nauru seeks to exclude an Australian media organisation in this way", said the gallery's president David Crowe.

New Zealand parliamentary press gallery chair Stacey Kirk, who is a senior political reporter for Stuff, said: "Nauru's decision to ban media based on unfavourable coverage is a clear violation of freedom of expression, as is necessary in a healthy democracy".

The United States has promised to resettle up to 1,250 refugees that Australia has banished to Nauru and the poor South Pacific island nation of Papua New Guinea. "It is up to Nauru who comes into their country, just as it's up to our to who comes to Australia".

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