OPPOSITION Leader Don Polye says he was shocked to hear reports that PNG journalists were snubbed in three separate incidents during Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to PNG last week.
Speaking to journalists at the Triumph Heritage Empowerment Party national convention, Polye said it is even more shocking that this was allowed by prime minister Peter O’Neill.
“If prime minister Turnbull is encouraging that kind of attitude, prime minister Turnbull needs to tell the world that he is like that. “How can he not allow Papua New Guinea media?
“If he has no confidence in the Papua New Guinea media, then don’t come to Papua New Guinea,” Polye said.
He reminded Turnbull that PNG was no longer a colony of Australia and was an independent state and as such must be treated with respect.
“It’s a slap to the face of Papua New Guinea as an independent people and independent nation to have a prime minister of Australia not allow Papua New Guinea’s own journalists to report his visit to Papua New Guinea.
“That is a big embarrassment and, whatever reason he has, prime minister Turnbull needs to tell the world that he is supporting suppression, that he is supporting subjugation, that he is supporting undemocratic ways of not allowing freedom of speech and freedom of movement by the people of Papua New guinea,”
Polye further said O’Neill should bow his head in shame for allowing such a thing to happen in the country.
The first incident happened at Bomana War Cemetery where PNG journalists were asked to leave several times, the reason being that only “Australian issues” would be discussed.
The second incident took place at the Airways Hotel, where local journalists were informed not to ask questions during a joint press conference.
In the other incident, journalists from the Post–Courier newspaper attending a business breakfast, which their organisation paid for, were not served a meal.
Local journalists expressed anger on social media while a PNG-based overseas journalist expressed disappointment and embarrassment.
The regional organisation, Pacific Freedom Forum, called for a review of media relations after the “shocking bans” of the first two incidents.
"Standing on sacred ground is no place to deny freedoms that many died defending", says PFF Chair Monica Miller of the Bomana War Cemetery farce.
And of the second she said "Australia has long faced criticism from the region for arrogant, neo-colonial attitude."
"Issuing bans is no way to disprove those criticisms."