While government officials might privately daydream about banning certain media outlets or journalists from covering their activities, the prospect suddenly became very real in wake of the government of Nauru blocking a representative of the ABC from attending the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum.
With an eye to future bans — not from foreign governments, but its own — the federal parliamentary press gallery has, almost unanimously, agreed to boycott the forum to deter repeated bans on the ABC or other outlets.
Press Gallery president David Crowe warns it sets a dangerous precedent. “What other Australian media might be banned from a similar group by another government in future?”
News Corp, however, has parted with the collective decision. With the AAP reporter and photographer pulling out, News Corp will send its own.
News Corp does not support this ludicrous ban by the press gallery on covering a PM’s trip to Nauru simply because an ABC cameraman cannot go. So, you can read all the news from the trip in News Corp papers, like @dailytelegraph and @australian but no where else. pic.twitter.com/WObnyW6oE0
— Sharri Markson (@SharriMarkson) July 4, 2018
Below is the full statement from the press gallery:
From the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery
The decision by the Government of Nauru to pick and choose the journalists who cover the Pacific Islands Forum is an appalling restriction on press freedom. Press Gallery committee members believe the ban on the ABC should be swiftly reversed.
If the ban is not reversed, the media pool will be disbanded. If one cannot go, none will go.
The Press Gallery, representing the journalists who cover federal parliament, acted in good faith to set up a group of three journalists to meet the restrictions around the forum in September.
We consulted with the Australian government and nominated an AAP reporter, an AAP photographer and an ABC camera operator to form this media pool, who would share their work with others.
We oppose the Nauru edict because it is wrong in this instance and because it sets a dangerous precedent. What other Australian media might be banned from a similar group by another government in future? We stand for a free press, not a banned one.
As the host of a summit for all nations of the region, the Government of Nauru should act with reason and moderation and rescind the ban.
Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery
4 July 2018