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More than bad manners: the problem with ignoring the PNG media

Scott Waide
Distinguished PNG journalist Scott Waide. Newton Cain asks if Australia is signalling to the PNG leadership that answering questions from the media is something you only do when it suits you

TESS NEWTON CAIN | Twitter | Edited

“Senator Marise Payne, Australia's foreign affairs minister, made a brief visit to Papua New Guinea and Bougainville late this week….

"The Australian High Commission in Port Moresby had told local journalists in no uncertain terms that there would be no opportunity to ask Payne questions about her visit.

"This was not the first time the High Commission has shown such gross discourtesy to the PNG media, who have previously been excluded from interviews, official lunches and even media conferences.”

– Keith Jackson in PNG Attitude yesterday

BRISBANE - As I’ve discussed before [see for example, here and here] this type of behaviour on the part of Australian ministers when visiting PNG and other Pacific countries is more than bad manners.

It is a worrying sign that the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby assumes it is entitled to dictate access to a sovereign nation’s media.

This is something that the foreign minister of PNG may wish to take up with the high commission for future visits.

We hear a lot about ‘values’ when it comes to foreign policy and diplomacy.

We also know that Australia is seeking to re-establish influence and leadership in the Pacific.

This was another missed opportunity - to demonstrate commitment to the values associated with democracy and accountability.

This is important in countries with ongoing challenges associated with media holding politicians to account.

What does this type of behaviour signal to the PNG leadership? That being prepared to answer questions from the media is something you only do when it suits you.

Maybe next time Marise Payne is interviewed by a member of the Australian media, they can raise these issues with her along with the very important point made in PNG Attitude about how this behaviour illustrates the special nature of the Australia-PNG relationship.

“Her press statement finished with the words, ‘Our countries enjoy a strong strategic partnership founded on a shared history and mutual values, extensive community links, and a commitment to a secure and prosperous Pacific region’. But no commitment to speaking through the PNG media to millions of Papua New Guineans” – Keith Jackson in PNG Attitude

Comments

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Philip Kai Morre

The PNG media is not a threat to Australian politicians, including Marise Payne.

If Marise Payne avoids interviews by PNG media personnel, she may have something to hide.

Bernard Corden

The foreign affairs minister is obviously unaware of the intricate relationship between leaders and followers.

“It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead — and find no one there” - Franklin D Roosevelt.

Her only saving grace is that she cannot be any worse than her predecessor who would have had enormous difficulty finding her way out of the Airways spa pool.

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