3 Jul 2018

ABC still going to try and attend forum despite Nauru ban

7:46 pm on 3 July 2018

Australia's public broadcaster ABC says it still plans to go to this year's Pacific Islands Forum summit, after Nauru's government banned it from entering the country.

The ABC planned to send someone as part of a three-person Australian pool to the September meeting.

Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru, addresses the United Nations high-level summit on large movements of refugees and migrants. sEP 2016

President of the Republic of Nauru Baron Divavesi Waqa. Photo: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

However, Nauru's government blamed ABC for interfering in domestic politics and harassing its president, bias and false reporting among other allegations.

As a result the government said the broadcaster's journalists would not be granted a visa under any circumstances.

ABC's head of news said they were outraged and did not intend to vacate their position in the media pool.

New Zealand press gallery chair Stacey Kirk said Nauru's decision was a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression, and follows already restrictive reporting conditions for the summit.

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Photo: AFP

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would still attend the forum despite the host nation's ABC ban.

Mr Turnbull said while the position was unfortunate the sovereign rights of Nauru must be respected.

"It is up to Nauru who comes into their country, just as it is up to my government, who comes into Australia.

"So we respect their sovereignty but obviously we prefer to have events like this open to all the media," Mr Turnbull said.

An earlier statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said Australia was a strong supporter of media freedom.

The Parliament building in Nauru.

The parliament building in Nauru. Photo: Supplied/ @ChrisTrott

Nearly 24 hours since Nauru's statement, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat is yet to make any comment.

Just last week its secretary-general said there should be no problems with foreign media accessing the event.

Media outlets boycott Pacific Island Forum

At least one Pacific news outlet is planning to boycott the Pacific Island Forum in Nauru later this year due to the ban on Australia's public broadcaster.

Dan McGarry from Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper told the ABC he would not be attending.

"The implication here is that anybody who provides negative coverage is going to be treated exactly the same way as the ABC and that is just not on," Mr McGarry said.

"We can't accept that kind of conditionality in our reporting. So for us it is a no brainer it is an obvious decision to make."

Australian journalists have been allocated a pool of just three media representatives to cover the forum, half the amount of New Zealand.