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
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