Comment & compilation
By Barry Tucker 3 October, 2013
In his first overseas diplomatic mission as head of the Murdoch Government of Australia, Anthony (Tony) Abbott barred Indonesian journalists from attending a key news conference.
The presser was held in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on the morning after talks with Indonesian leaders that encompassed Abbott’s plans to stop the flow of refugee-seeker boats and trade, especially the live cattle trade.
Indonesian journalists were told the ban was imposed at the request of the Office of the Prime Minister. Australian journalists who have since sought a reason for the ban have not received a reply.
The head of the Jakarta chapter of the Alliance for Independent Journalists, Umar Idris, said: “We cannot accept whatever reason Australia gave for limiting access to information for Indonesian journalists.”
Mr Umar said the ban was not just discourteous, but criminal.
“The press law in Indonesia says it is a crime to limit journalists to get access to information. The penalty for that is two years’ imprisonment,” Mr Umar said.
Abbott, who studied Law, Economics, Politics and Philosophy (but not Media) worked as a journalist for The Bulletin and The Australian. He, or his minders, carefully chooses which radio and tv outlets he appears on for interviews. His preference is for the Sydney radio shock jocks (eg: Alan Jones) or the part Murdoch owned Sky News while severely limiting his appearances on ABC tv shows like Insiders, the 7.30 Report and Q&A.
The Age’s Michael Bachelard reported on the Jakarta media ban.
After Abbott returned to Australia, he held a news conference with visiting New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, on Wednesday, 2 October. During the presser Abbott controlled questioners turn about: one from Australia, one from NZ. When Abbott tried to end the presser, Mr Key said he wanted to take more questions.
Here is a list of stories on Mr Key’s visit.
And there was this Tweet:
The look on PM Key’s face when Abbott turned to run from their presser was priceless. Guess that’s not how a PM behaves across the Tasman.