Well, that was quick.
Yesterday, we noted that A Current Affair’s visit to Nauru would likely be used by the state to help justify and reinforce its policy of keeping out critical media outlets.
Next thing you know, the Nauruan government released this statement today.
The statement argues that the Government of Nauru “has never enacted a media ban or blackout”, and that instead it is simply keeping out “those who we believe want to come to Nauru to incite violence, hatred and tension within our country”.
It says the state has received “little interest” from media outlets, that two have visited (that would be Chris Kenny and A Current Affair) and, interestingly, that one Australian outlet was approved to visit “some time ago” but didn’t come.
The release frames the issue around “safety and security”, and says activists, journalists, lawyers and human rights advocates would create unrest.
“We will however – subject to normal application procedures and approval – allow media outlets who will be respectful and objective, and who do not have a record of spreading untruths about our country.”
Respectful and objective. Again, that’s Kenny – a former Chief of Staff to Malcolm Turnbull – and A Current Affair.
Earlier this month New Matilda revealed that senior Australian barrister Claire O’Connor SC, who was denied a visa to visit the island, was told she would first need approval from the Australian Immigration Department if she wanted to travel to investigate the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. That advice was subsequently contradicted by Australian immigration officials, and the Nauruan Consulate was forced to apologise.
Carmen Lawrence, a former Premier and Minister in the Keating government, had also planned to visit the island, but her requests for a visa were simply ignored.
Earlier in the year Nauru suspended all visitor visas for Australians and New Zealanders after accusing the ABC of trying to get a reporter onto the island with a tourist visa.
Here’s the full text of the Nauruan government’s release:
“The Government of Nauru has never enacted a media ban or blackout as has been reported by some media outlets. We have a media visa application process and as a sovereign nation we alone choose who enters our country. The lack of respect of our sovereignty by some Australian media outlets indicates extreme arrogance and hypocrisy.
Just like Australia, we will not allow those who we believe want to come to Nauru to incite violence, hatred and tension within our country.
Unfortunately there are some media outlets and some refugee advocates who would do just that if they came to Nauru. The Government of Nauru is doing the best job possible to provide our refugee community and asylum seekers with all they need to enjoy a safe and fulfilling life on Nauru while they are here as our temporary guests. We meet all international obligations and the facilities for refugees and asylum seekers in Nauru are far superior to those in many other areas across the world.
However we are equally aware that the ultimate goal for many refugee and asylum seekers was – and still is – to live in Australia, and as such some have an agenda to create tension and problems in Nauru to further their cause. It is clear these people are being supported by so called human rights lawyers, refugee advocates and politicians in Australia who have no regard for the people of Nauru or the stability of our nation. They will call our country names, promote civil unrest and violence, fabricate stories of abuse and generally denigrate our people and nation with no consideration of the effects of their words and actions within our community.
These people are supported by a select few Australian activist-journalists who spread these lies and promote unrest.
It is this group of journalists and activists who want to visit Nauru, and if we allowed them to provoke what is already a sensitive situation the result would be civil unrest and violence that would endanger our people. Our nation does not have the policing resources of Australia and cannot handle an uprising of this magnitude.
The presence on Nauru of media who have no respect for our security, culture and laws, will likely incite refugees and asylum seekers who already are angry that they are not in Australia, to acts of violence and other acts. We saw this with a recent visit from UNHCR.
It is for reasons of safety and security that we are not able to allow all media onto Nauru, and we will never allow media who we believe will intentionally incite violence and unrest to further their story.
We will however – subject to normal application procedures and approval – allow media outlets who will be respectful and objective, and who do not have a record of spreading untruths about our country. We have granted visa applications to two media outlets and provided them with unrestricted access to all areas with no conditions or expectations. Both media outlets were able to freely approach anyone, anywhere and discuss any subject. This is free and unrestricted media access.
The refugee advocates and extreme left activist-journalists will never be satisfied and spew vitriol in the direction of the journalists who have visited Nauru and report accurately, respectfully and objectively. This only proves that these people have no interest in reporting truth or respecting our country. They have their own agenda and Nauru refuses to be used by them to help them further their political campaign against the Australian Government.
We should note that other than these few activist journalists, we have received very little interest from mainstream media outlets. In fact some time ago one Australian network was approved to visit Nauru and then decided not to come.
We will protect our borders and people and this means we will continue to implement a strong immigration and visa policy.”
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