Thursday, October 04, 2018

Australia undermined freedom of the press in Nauru

When Nauru effectively banned journalists five years ago, it was very convenient for Australia, silencing all sorts of awkward questions about their concentration camp on the island and what was going on there. Except it wasn't merely "convenient": it turns out that Australia had conspired with Nauru to make it happen:

The Australian government is jointly responsible for Nauru’s media access policy for the immigration detention centre, departmental documents reveal, despite claims for years that it is solely an issue for Nauru.

The Australian government has repeatedly claimed it has no involvement in Nauru’s decisions around media access and specifically its repeated refusal to Australian outlets.

But the previously unpublished official arrangements, tendered to federal court as part of an affidavit in a Nauruan medical transfer case, reveal the notoriously restrictive media policy to be a joint effort.

“The governments of Australia and Nauru will agree to a media and visitor access policy and conditions of entry,” the document said. “Media seeking access to centre will be required to obtain permission from the [Nauruan] secretary for justice and to sign a media agreement.”

The Australian government then claimed it had nothing to do with the media ban, and that it was entirely up to Nauru. It turns out they were lying. Who'd have thunk it?

This isn't ethical, and its not acceptable. Australian voters should hold their government to account for it.