By Sri Krishnamurthi
The police raids on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) and Newscorp’s Sunday Telegraph journalist Annika Smethurst earlier this month have had a chilling effect on media in the Pacific.
“In the past two days we’ve had police raids on Newscorp, a prominent journalist, political editor and award-winning journalist originally from Monash University, her home was raided and the following day at the ABC headquarters in Ultimo,” the director of the Pacific Media Centre, Professor David Robie, told Pacific Media Watch.
“Australia has been regarded in the Pacific as a paragon of media freedom, but it has been steadily declining in media freedom in terms of the world indexes and so on.
“When these sort of things happen right here with a large neighbour in the region it’s no wonder that many of the Pacific leaders want to take the cue and want to impose as many controls on the media, basically try and shut journalists up,” he said.
Kalafi Moala, former editor and owner of the Taimi ‘o Tonga newspaper had similar sentiments.
“It is within the nature of those who are in power that they want control and media is the greatest threat to power if it is not held accountable,” said the iconic Pacific journalist.
He summarised as a “culture of fear that still exists in the relationship between media and government”.
The repercussions of the Australian Federal Police raids are not being just felt in Australia but reverting around the Pacific.
Dr Robie and Kalafi Moala made the comments during recent interviews for a mini-documentary about the work of the Pacific Media Centre’s Pacific Media Watch freedom, project.
The video also includes footage with permission from the Daily Rant.