THE PNG Attitude story about Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to Papua New Guinea last weekend triggered quite a response elsewhere in the media as well amongst the 4,200 readers who responded to it on Twitter.
Sydney Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine wrote of the visit being “somewhere between a non-event and a media debacle."
Devine quoted Vietnam veteran, politician and Kokoda tour guide Charlie Lynn who said: “It seems that it was visit without a purpose — no announcements of anything of substance.
“Kokoda is not a place for political tokenism," Lynn said. "It’s a pilgrimage to a neglected shrine — a gateway for young Australians and Papuans to learn more about our shared wartime history.
"If the prime minister doesn’t understand this he should have stayed away.”
Devine wrote how more controversy boiled up when Papua New Guinean journalists were banned from Turnbull’s press conference at Bomana War Cemetery.
She quoted ABC correspondent Eric Tlozek’s Facebook post expressing disappointment and embarrassment that “my PNG media colleagues felt they were not allowed to attend.”
And she reiterated PNG journalist Gorethy Kenneth’s incendiary comment: “I really felt like racism crept right back into my face. I got told twice to leave so presser could start.
"I refused at first but I humbled later taking my team PNG newshounds away.”
Radio New Zealand International reported Ms Kenneth as saying the directive to exclude local journalists came from the Australian High Commission.
"It did really affect me,” she said. “In the end, the ABC guy stationed here in Port Moresby [Eric Tlozek] was actually really upset that it had happened to us because he told me in the end it was very offensive.
"He's the one who actually went and spoke to the Australian High Commission officials to advise them that this was not good and they should come and apologise."
Australian officials later apologised for what they said was "a misunderstanding", which itself led to great derision from Papua New Guineans on social media.
The Post Courier commented: “Is there a reason why local journalists were discriminated [against] by the Aussies at Bomana during the Australian prime minister’s visit? A doorstop interview by the Aussie PM was restricted to overseas journalists, whilst local journos were told not to participate. Discrimination at its best.”
Gorothy Kenneth expressed surprised that, after being asked to leave the first press conference, she was also barred from a later one. She was told the opportunities were strictly for the Australian media.
Australia has to do do better in its Papua New Guinea relationship. Our official treatment of Papua New Guineans whether over visas or the kind of blunders and obfuscations that blighted Turnbull's recent visit needs to take a big step up.