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By Lora Lini

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, August 6) – Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Ham Lini yesterday officially opened the third media training workshop on "Access to information, laws and ethical standards in political reporting," at the Vasanoc Hall in Port Vila. The two-day workshop is being organised by Transparency International Vanuatu in association with Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV).

Prime Minister Lini reiterated his message on Independence Day to work towards restoring political stability as a matter of priority, and called for the media to exercise its role with a sense of responsibility. He stressed that the media was a very powerful tool and that he hoped journalists would assist him with this goal.

The Prime Minister also highlighted incidents of what he has described as irresponsible reporting—most notably the use of the ‘F’ word by the independent newspaper in one of the captions of a photograph used recently. He also reminded that as a powerful tool of influence the media can make or break society if the freedom it is accorded was not properly exercised.

Lini said he believed both the members of the media and the government can put their minds together and work closely to make Vanuatu a better place. The PM specifically said in the last twelve months he, as Prime Minister, has noticed an improvement in the relations between the Government and the different media outlets. "In particular I must mention the appointment of a fulltime Public Relations Officer within my office who has bridged the gap between my office and the media," he said.

He also said the Government recognized that there could be a need for an Information Department within his Ministry staffed by qualified journalists and this would promote transparency and accountability within government. He called on journalists to respect at all times the issue of balanced reporting and also urged that press freedom be not abused. Lini thanked the New Zealand High Commission for funding the workshop and also the participation of highly respected journalist David Robie in the two-day workshop.

August 8, 2006

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