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Editorial: World Denied News On PNG Poll

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PNG Post-Courier editorial 18 June 2002:


ABC coverage of the PNG election:

PORT MORESBY (Pacific Media Watch/Post-Courier): The international community is being denied news about the conduct of the Papua New Guinea general elections and no one in Government has offered any explanation for this.

Overseas journalists, mostly Australians, have applied for PNG visas weeks ago to cover the elections for Australians as well as the rest of the international community.

Yet, it is taking a long time for their visa applications to be processed. What is the reason the Department of Foreign Affairs is not able to authorise the issuing of the visas early to allow the journalists to travel?

Why is there such a long delay, might we ask?

Leaders often say that PNG has nothing to hide. If so, the slowness in approving visas for foreign journalists to cover the general elections is sending a completely different signal to the international community about this country.

Australians and the rest of the world who care about this country know everything about the serious challenges that PNG faces. They are concerned that the people of PNG are allowed to exercise their Constitutional right to vote fairly to elect leaders who will take on those challenges and work towards finding long term solutions that will help the country prosper.

Denying their journalists visas to enter the country will not stop people overseas from knowing about the elections but it will certainly damage the country's reputation as a free and democratic nation. It puts PNG into the category of rogue states and dictatorships because such countries do not like the free media.

It is time the Waigani bureaucracy woke up to its senses and realises the extent of damage it is causing to PNG's reputation abroad by not allowing journalists speedy access to PNG. It is also turning into "enemies" of PNG responsible journalists of high calibre who are sympathetic towards us.

The whole system of screening visa applications for overseas journalists needs to be reviewed immediately. It stinks.

Copyright, 2001, Post-Courier Online.



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