11 Nov 2013

Media advisor for PNG fund deported to Australia with no possessions

6:16 pm on 11 November 2013

The media advisor for a fund currently locking horns with the Papua New Guinea government has been deported to Australia.

Mark Davis, who has lived in the country for decades and has a Papua New Guinean family, was put on a plane to Brisbane late last week.

He told Alex Perrottet his ordeal was inevitable, considering his role with the Sustainable Development Fund.

MARK DAVIS: I was surrounded by four or five policemen and told that I was under arrest and put into a twin-cab ute with tinted windows and accompanied by three or four heavily armed policemen. And I was driven round Port Moresby for four or five hours and I was then put on a plane and delivered to Brisbane, my sole possessions being my passport and the clothes I stood up in, everything else having been confiscated.

ALEX PERROTTET: So you were not given a chance even to go home before you were deported?

MD: Yes, I did go home and I managed to pick up my most valuable private possessions, which were my computers, a couple of laptops, my camera, my Australian wallet with all my Australian credit cards in it, my diabetes card, my MedicAlert card. And I was assured by the police they would be put on the plane with me, but of course they weren't. And I was just left stranded in Brisbane. I live in Cairns and I was stranded. (Laughs) No money, no nothing.

AP: Was there any reason given for your deportation?

MD: Yes, there were orders signed by the Minister for Immigration, and they specified that I was in the country unlawfully. I have not been given any details about what I might have done unlawfully or other details, however I was contracted by the media and told that my crimes against humanity were engaging in political activity and being in possession of pornography. (Laughs)

AP: So there was no mention of your role as the media advisor to the Sustainable Development Programme at all?

MD: That's clearly the motivation behind my deportation. People at PNGSDP, including myself, have received a number of very strange phone calls over the past few weeks and I resigned myself to the fact that this was likely to happen. I had actually booked myself out on Sunday and I had arranged for removalists to come in and pack up all my goods so I could get out of the country, but they beat me to the punch. It's a political debate between PNGSDP and the government over the government's illegal expropriation of our shareholding in the OK Tedi copper mine. And legislation that purports to restructure or give the government right to restructure PNGSDP, which is a not-for-profit charity style company registered in Singapore. So of course my work is going to have a political element. I write media releases for the chairman and the chief executive criticising the government. I write advertisements criticising the government's action and calling into question its behaviour. That's my job. What they've done is I think try to nuzzle PNGSDP in the same way that they stood over the local media up in Port Moresby.