Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Government of Nauru: Turnbull's will comes first

Image of Nauru at

The small island Republic of Nauru’s official motto is "God's Will First.

I strongly suspect that Nauru has unofficially changed it to “Turnbull's Will First” ahead of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to the Pacific Islands Forum, with an eye turned towards protecting annual funding coming from the Australian Government.

Australia is Nauru’s largest trade, investment and development assistance partner, providing development assistance worth $26.1 million in 2017-18 and $25.9 million in 2018-19.

That particular multimillion dollar revenue stream is said to financially benefit some of Nauru’s most powerful families.

So banning ABC employees from entering the country would have been an easy decision for the Government of Nauru to make given the current Australian prime minister’s well known animus towards the Australian Public Broadcasting Corporation.

Statement from Republic of Nauru – Update for media attending Sept 2018 Pacific Islands Forum

Published by  NauruNews at  July 2, 2018

The Government of Nauru looks forward to welcoming media from across the Pacific region and further afield, to cover the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in September. Due to very limited accommodation we have had to place restrictions on the number of people from all sectors who are able to attend, including government delegations and the media. There has been no restrictions placed on media attendance for any reason other than this indisputable fact of accommodation and facility availability. We are confident that a wide cross section of media will attend, as they have for previous forums. Of course, as is the case for anyone entering Nauru – and indeed every other sovereign nation – all are expected to abide by their visa guidelines (in this instance a specific PIF media visa will be issued with no associated fees), respect the laws of our country, and not engage in activities that cause or encourage disruption or civil unrest.

We recognise that media from Australia have a unique interest in Nauru due to our partnership with Australia as part of its border security operations. While we will ensure that some media representatives from Australia will attend along with other Pacific and wider media, we will be requesting they follow all guidelines and directions of authorities in order to ensure the safety and security of citizens and residents of Nauru. There are unique security and safety issues in Nauru that must be considered and respected, and the Government reserves the right to revoke the visa of any person that breaches their visa conditions.

We are ensuring that along with other media from Australia, at least one Australian TV news outlet will be able to cover the PIF and footage will be available to other outlets who are not able to attend.

It is important that media representatives travelling with national political leaders or heads of state – specifically from Australia and New Zealand – are aware that they still must apply for accreditation and an appropriate visa through the website of the Government of Nauru, as per normal procedures. No person can enter Nauru without a valid visa and anyone attempting to do so, irrespective of who they are travelling with, will not be allowed entry. Accreditation applications have now closed as per PIF guidelines, however applications will still be accepted until 5pm Nauru Time on July 3, 2018, from any representatives who wish to travel to PIF as part of a ‘pool’ with their national leader and has not yet applied. Again, these spots are limited (particularly by accommodation) and will be included in (not separate from) the overall media numbers which are still to be finalised. Media that have been issued accreditation will be advised soon, as will those applicants who we could not accommodate.

It should be noted that no representative from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation will be granted a visa to enter Nauru under any circumstances, due to this organisation’s blatant interference in Nauru’s domestic politics prior to the 2016 election, harassment of and lack of respect towards our President in Australia, false and defamatory allegations against members of our Government, and continued biased and false reporting about our country. It is our right, as it is the right of every nation, to choose who is allowed to enter.

ABC News reported on 2 July 2017:

ABC News Director Gaven Morris responded, saying the broadcaster "vigorously defends our role in doing independent reporting on our region".

"The ABC does not intend to vacate our position in the media pool covering the Pacific Islands Forum in Nauru," Mr Morris said.

"The Nauruan Government should not be allowed to dictate who fills the positions in an Australian media pool.

"It can hardly claim it is 'welcoming the media' if it dictates who that media will be and bans Australia's public broadcaster."

For the cameras Malcolm Bligh Turnbull pretends he has no power to intercede.
Even if Turnbull didn't want to make a personal approach to the President of Nauru - for heaven's sake - we have gone to the expense of maintaining a High Commission on that 21 km² slip of an island since August 2009. 

If he so wished Malcolm Turnbull can make the High Commissioner earn her generous salary by having her present a formal request from the Australian foreign minister to allow ABC jounalists and a camera crew to attend the Pacific Islands Forum.

However, as it is highly likely that Nauru's ban is only an anticipation of Turnbull's wishes I won't be holding my breath.

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