AUSSIE JOURNALIST RAISES IRE OF PNG GOVERNMENT

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 4) – Papua New Guinea Inter-Government Relations Minister Sir Peter Barter has expressed concern over the continued abuse of the country’s visa system by foreign journalists.

He said the prime minister’s statement on Tuesday might appear anti-media but it was not the first that foreign journalists had failed to respect the country’s laws.

Prime Minister Michael Somare said he was unhappy with the visiting journalist, reporter Bronwyn Adcock of Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), and that he was glad she had been stopped by immigration officials.

Barter said Adcock had improperly entered PNG last week on a tourist visa.

He said the Australian journalist "brought along a small digital camera obviously to avoid detection to gain information on a subject which will be exposed throughout Australia and perhaps beyond".

Adcock’s trip provided content for a half -hour TV program aired by SBS last night, highlighting alleged police brutality and coverups in the PNG logging industry.

"It is obvious that a TV unit like SBS will endeavor to interview what they consider to be the aggrieved," Barter said in a statement. "In a country with so much tourism potential, it is disappointing that SBS and other TV stations or journalists spend so much time raking mud instead of producing stories such as the recent Australia Story featuring Lady Carol Kidu."

Barter added: "If you add up the roads, schools, health facilities, the high standard of education that has produced doctors, lawyers, accountants even pilots flying with international airlines, we should be very proud and not be made look stupid or like thieves by journalists who actually make money themselves while in turn destroy the image of the country."

He believed that some journalists sensationalize events to sell their programs.

Barter said the Government believed in a free and responsible media sympathetic to the cultural and geographic diversity that makes Papua New Guinea what it is.

"We are here to serve the people of PNG, not rascal journalists who deceive the authorities in entering PNG on false pretences to get what they call their ‘scoop’."

November 5, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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