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Dutton Calls the Shots on Nauru

This unfolding story is worth watching as it appears to have the cold hand of Peter Dutton all over it.

The government of Nauru has blocked the ABC from covering the Pacific Islands Forum, refusing to issue its journalists visas because of allegations of bias and false reporting.

The Nauruan government have, however, said that “at least one Australian TV outlet” would be allowed to cover the forum, to be held in the first week of September ; I may be way off here but I’m seeing Foxtel/SKY as probably getting a guernsey.

Nauru is almost entirely dependent on Australian aid for its ongoing economic survival [and to maintain the lavish lifestyle of its politicians and their hangers on]. So, the continued existence of the detention centre on that island is central to their political and personal interests. In round figures it costs $400,000 a year to maintain each detainee in the offshore detention centres and the last thing that the Nauruan government want to see is the resettlement of the asylum seekers and closure of this camp.

Save the Children and Unicef found that Australian taxpayers had spent as much as $9.6 billion on offshore detention since 2013 – Australian government figures are a bit rubbery on this – while a Parliamentary Library report released in 2016 found Manus Island alone had cost taxpayers about $2 billion since it was reopened. Manus of course is no longer a detention centre following a PNG Supreme Court ruling that such detention of non-citizens who had not committed any crime was constitutionally illegal. Like a scene form Monty Python’s Dead Parrot sketch, our minister for Home Affairs has decreed that nobody is now detained on Manus (or Nauru for that matter) they’re just not allowed to leave … as I’ve noted elsewhere, Peter Dutton’s version of the Eagles’ Hotel California : ‘you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave’.

What the ABC have done to encourage this visa ban is quite horrendous, they have reported the news factually, impartially and without bias and that infuriates not only the Nauruan officials but also, it seems, the current Australian government. In March the ABC reported what a senior United Nations official had said after inspecting the detention centre : he called for the Australian Government to reconsider its offshore detention policy as concerns about detainees’ mental and physical well being were growing. Indrika Ratwatte, the Asia Pacific director for the UNHCR, described the conditions as “shocking”. “We must make every effort to get refugees out of this situation” the ABC reported him as saying.

What you may say is wrong with reporting what a UN official has to say about a detention centre funded by the Australian taxpayer on a remote Pacific island ? Well, in case you haven’t noticed over the past five years this whole thing is shrouded in secrecy and when you are the only news outlet prepared to report factually, in this brave new world of alternative facts, you leave yourself open to attacks from those who not only oppose public broadcasting, but who also will not tolerate criticism or analysis of government policies.

Don’t for a moment confuse this media ban with stopping the boats ; one is a policy and one is a wedge, you decide. This is all about petty politics within the coalition and the hatred many of them hold for public broadcasting and in particular the ABC coupled with some vested interests on Nauru who would never bite the hand that feeds them.

With a Nauruan official having come out and said that “ … no representative from the [ABC] will be granted a visa to enter Nauru under any circumstances,” you would expect an immediate reaction from our prime minister defending free speech and the right of Australia to decide on which of its media outlets should be able to report on this important regional forum. Whilst there has been outrage from the Australian parliamentary press gallery, from our prime minister just a wishy-washy statement to the effect that Nauru retains the right to decide who should report on this forum and the manner in which they should report : ‘it’s a question of sovereignty don’tcha know’.

Following our prime minister going to water on this, can we now expect our Foreign Minister or the Minister for Communications or our Minister for Home Affairs to come out strongly and support our ABC and Australia’s right not to be dictated to by a foreign government ? You would have to tune into radio 2GB or SkyNews for the answer to that, but don’t hold your breath.


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  1. Josephus

    It does sound as if the government might have imposed conditions on its ongoing largesse, eg to further weaken the ABC. Turkish dictatorship here we come.

  2. David Bruce

    I wonder how long it will be before Nauru becomes part of the China belts and roads policy and framework in the South Pacific?

  3. New England Cocky

    “Nauru is almost entirely dependent on Australian aid for its ongoing economic survival [and to maintain the lavish lifestyle of its politicians and their hangers on]. ”

    “What the ABC have done to encourage this visa ban is quite horrendous, they have reported the news factually, impartially and without bias and that infuriates not only the Nauruan officials but also, it seems, the current Australian government.”

    The most important thing about a fascist state is that every citizen is scared of the politicians and the power that those politicians have to impact on the lives of their citizens. Otherwise there is no real reason for having a privileged political elite doing whatever they decide for personal pecuniary benefit.

    I love my ABC and I vote!!!!!

  4. JohnF

    Move the Forum to a different host nation.

  5. Will

    When the people fear their government there is tyranny.
    When the government fear the people there is liberty. Thomas Jefferson. Still rings true today.

  6. Blair

    What did we do to deserve such a spineless PM?
    Never forget how these fascists operate and vote them out whenever you can!

  7. Cool Pete

    Achtung! Let us never forget that Gruppenfuhrer Dickhead Sinister for Homer’s Farts joked about rising sea levels. We are now in a fascist state.

  8. helvityni

    I just watched the Drum; too angry and annoyed to say anything…

    As Will says Thomas Jefferson’s words still ring true…

  9. Jon Chesterson


    Is Dutton behind Nauru refusing the ABC a visa to report the Pacific Island’s Forum? – You bet he is and this is another set piece by our government. Nauru will play the game because it is their major source of income, they don’t want the refugees to leave the island, well they do, but not at the loss of their principle source of income. So our government instead of advocating ABC and freedom of the press have colluded to exclude them, while with the other hand they rally against the ABC by cutting their funding, now agitating to privatise it. Any guesses who will be allowed to cover the forum? Murdoch’s News Corp, Foxtel, Sky?

    Dutton is f#cking us all up the garden path, and Turnbull is looking the other way, encouraging it or more likely part of this two cop scam. They don’t want the ABC there at all because they know the ABC will report the truth and facts, which they want to control and manufacture as part of their propaganda machine and lies, can’t have real Australian journalists on Nauru. At the very least contain and prevent the truth being told about anything that goes on in Nauru. And of course this is all entirely consistent with Turnbull’s new espionage legislation to silence anyone who speaks out or criticise the government.

    Meanwhile, Dutton has stopped another 2 year old infant girl born to a refugee on Nauru from coming to Australia for treatment of acute encephalitis, a lethal condition if not treated correctly. It took a High Court order today to over turn Dutton’s sentence of death or would that amount to infanticide or ‘childslaughter’ by decree or omission.

    And Australians still want to vote for these murderers. How long before you are imprisoned for telling the truth or Australians go missing for telling it?

  10. helvityni

    …sad that we need to blame the Nauru Government for not allowing ABC in when we know we have been kept in the dark about what’s happening at Nauru et Manus by our own government. I thought that it was our Immigration Minister who does not like ABC, and our PM has also been critical of the National Broadcaster…

    Oh well, the times are a ‘changing….

  11. wam

    Spot on terence, Sky news is the pick of the australian worker.
    Trump got it right when he said republicans are so stupid they believe anything on sky.
    My facebook, echoes his words, the boys and girls. go to bed with sky news and awaken with msnnine.com.au
    Is Nauru an independent nation?
    is the ABC an independent broadcaster?
    It would a brave commentator that would answer. yes????
    To anyone without cable.
    We used to switch from ABC station 102 to SBS station 104 with BBC tv shows at 103. Sky news was 600 and never seen. Recently BBC has shifted and sky news is in 103.
    the normal process is to go 102 103 104 ie register a ‘hit’ for sky. Cunning way of increasibf the audience???

  12. Paul

    “the right to decide who should report on this forum and the manner in which they should report ”
    Shades of J W Howard, i smell an election…………

  13. Kyran

    If you look at the forum itself, it has various underpinning aspirations. Like so many of the aspirations paraded by our illustrious leader, they are merely platitudes for the masses, no more attainable or likely than a first class ticket to the moon.
    The Pacific Islands Forum has ‘Vision’ and ‘Values’. Try reading this without barfing.

    “Forum Vision
    Our Pacific Vision is for a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion, and prosperity, so that all Pacific people can lead free, healthy, and productive lives.
    Forum Values
    We value and depend upon the integrity of our vast ocean and our island resources.
    We treasure the diversity and heritage of the Pacific and seek an inclusive future in which cultures, traditions and religious beliefs are valued, honoured and developed.
    We embrace good governance, the full observance of democratic values, the rule of law, the defence and promotion of all human rights, gender equality, and commitment to just societies.
    We seek peaceful, safe, and stable communities and countries, ensuring full security and wellbeing for the peoples of the Pacific.
    We support full inclusivity, equity and equality for all people of the Pacific.
    We strive for effective, open and honest relationships and inclusive and enduring partnerships—based on mutual accountability and respect—with each other, within our sub-regions, within our region, and beyond.
    These Pacific regional values will guide all our policy-making and implementation.”


    A Forum – which includes in its membership three ‘sovereign countries’ (Australia, PNG and Nauru) that actively collude to contravene their own charter by participating in a criminal cabal – is clearly only an aspirational, notional, tokenistic enterprise. All three members of this collusive, criminal cabal are also members of the august ‘Commonwealth’ and ‘UN’ bodies.
    Goodness, Australia and Nauru have even recently signed up to the ‘Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT)’.


    None of these memberships have brought any criticism, let alone sanctions for their criminal behavior. The indefinite imprisonment of people without charge.
    If these countries are prepared to violate such a basic human right, due process, media censorship is little more than a minute transgression, a passing inconvenience. In the absence of anything even vaguely critical from such august bodies as the Commonwealth or the UN, what would you expect from the PIF? Well, the Secretariat of the PIF issued a ‘press release’;

    “The Pacific Islands Forum is committed to the guiding principles of good governance and practices that are open, transparent, accountable, participatory, consultative and decisive but fair and equitable.
    The Forum actively promotes these values across the region and Forum Leaders have a long history of articulating their importance.
    The Pacific Islands Forum also vigorously defends the right of any sovereign country to make its own lawful decisions about the ways in which it chooses to govern itself. While Nauru as a sovereign state has stated its position and concerns about media reporting, the Pacific Islands Forum has always stood by the principles of free and open press. This also means a responsibility by the press to be factual in its reporting.”


    That, in plain English, translates as “We have rules, serious rules, meaningful rules, that we will abide by. Except for when we won’t. Which is fair and reasonable, just …… because.”
    Mind you, suggesting that Nauru is making a ‘lawful decision’ is a tad problematic, given it has suspended the operation of law and removed appellate processes and avenues. Even Bishop is aware of it.

    “Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said in a statement: “Australia supports Nauru’s sovereignty and its December 2017 decision to terminate the treaty in advance of the nation’s 50th anniversary of independence.”
    Nauru’s criminal justice system has, for several years, been criticised as politically compromised and as failing to act independently of the government.
    Previous magistrates and judges have been summarily dismissed and deported from the island for making decisions the government has disagreed with.
    In 2015 New Zealand suspended aid to Nauru’s justice sector after expressing long-running concerns over the erosion of the rule of law.
    Also in 2015, Bishop said the Australian government “was concerned” about Nauru’s democracy and the independence of the justice system.
    “We urge there to be an adherence to the rule of law, that their justice system operates properly, that people are not denied natural justice, that they’re given an opportunity to present their case.””


    The only thing that surprises me is that the dog, Adeang, chose the ABC to make an example of. The ABC has been incredibly tame on the failed state known as Nauru, as they have been with most issues our government finds ‘sensitive’.
    All of this is a hypothetical exercise. If Dutton, Adeang, Bishop, Turnbull, et al, succumb to the criticism, it may be interpreted as an admission of guilt. The precedent in this was Howard, who famously refused to deliver an apology to our First People for fear of a ‘resultant pecuniary penalty’.
    Horror stories about the inhumane barbaric treatment of those who are indefinitely imprisoned without charge do, eventually, make their way out. While these participants in a meaningless forum convene on an island prison, they will likely NOT be accommodated in mouldy tents. They probably won’t even see them. Will they even be aware that there is every likelihood the corpse of the most recently deceased asylum seeker will still be stored in a refrigerated unit, his grieving young widow the only sentinel, her ‘hunger strike’ the only protest?

    “Mansour Beigi, who, in the wake of her son’s suicide, is on “high watch” and monitored by guards 24 hours a day everywhere she goes, says she wants to bury her eldest child as soon as possible, but not in Nauru or their homeland Iran. But Mansour Beigi says too, she is consumed by fears for the health and future of her youngest child, 12-year-old Ali, who, doctors have said, is at acute mental health risk and should be moved from the island.
    An autopsy has been completed on Karami’s body, but his mother says she has been told it could be three months before she is told its findings, and her son’s body is released to her for burial.
    Karami’s wife is on a hunger strike, drinking only water. She is sleeping outside the connex container where her husband’s body is being kept.”


    As has been pointed out, there are many complicit in this barbarity, if not by their silence, then by their galling ‘metoo’ vote in a cheap and tawdry political exercise.
    There is no point appealing to the likes of Dutton, Turnbull, Bishop, Adeang, et al. There is no point appealing to the Forum, or the Commonwealth, or the UN. The next death will likely be of temporary inconvenience to these murderous bastards.
    Niemöller’s caution can be heard, fading into the past, decreasing in volume and urgency.
    Thank you Mr Mills and commenters. We got a long ways to go. Take care

  14. Matters Not

    Did Dutton ring Nauru of recent times and request that the ABC be banned? I suspect not. Truth is he doesn’t have to. The powers that be In Nauru learnt some time ago that their Australian economic and political masters have no time for open government and expect that their liegemen will behave in like manner. Pulling strings is no longer needed – Dutton is superfluous to requirements. A type of self actualisation is evident.

    As I understand it, Australia was to receive three (3) press passes, one of whom would do the camera work. It was the ABC employee who would do the filming and voice recording. Clever work from the ABC – but not smart enough apparently.

  15. Paul

    So the government leans on Nauru in an attempt to further discredit the ABC…Really would you expect anything else.

    Sooo very desperate now and the clock is ticking..

    And this morning Abbott throw another grenade in to the non-energy policy debate.

    tick.. tick.. tick..

  16. johno

    I am not holding my breath Terence, good article. The fizza strikes again.

  17. Kronomex

    I still get this awful feeling that Dutton is looking for some way to declare martial law to “protect all Australians (but mainly the LNP and himself) from horrible, horrendous, and hideous threats.” There is no way he’s going to give up his power base without a fight.

  18. New England Cocky

    @Kronomex: Check out Getup! Dickson on Facebook to see what can be done to “encourage” Benito Dutton to give up his Parliamentary career.

  19. guest

    Nauru is a prime example of what the “business-as-usual” cartel is achieving. The island was once composed largely of bird dung used as fertiliser on farm land. The deposit has been worked out. Nauru now depends on other people’s money – and has been said here, depends on Oz money spent at great cost on maintaining a system which uses people as scapegoats for a cruel and inhumane policy.

    For a while Nauru had a very high standard of living while the mining of phosphate was viable. When the phosphate mining was no longer viable, the island became for a while a tax haven and a place for money laundering. It has also sought compensation for the damage caused by mining. While it receives money for being a detention centre it can survive. But after that…? It is looking at a parlous state of survival in the future.

    As suggested, it is open to influence from China, which already has influence through the Pacific. Or, it becomes even more a vassal state of Oz.

    But Oz has its own problems. Its government pays only token regard for the reality of Climate Change. Its energy policy places much reliance on the stranded assets of the coal industry. It allows gas fracking to penetrate prime agricultural land. Water is stolen by some citizens from other citizens. Land clearance is achieved illegally. Large companies, often international, have ways of avoiding taxes. Secrecy controls us and we have no redress. Big brother is watching and police utilities are at the ready.

    As well, we have tied ourselves to the USA and a President who is volatile and unpredictable, rattling sabres with China. So our attitude with China is a mixture of friendly trade and wary politics bordering on hostility. And there are those who would cut us adrift from the wider world, for example the Paris Agreement.

    What that means is that I feel as if Oz is but Nauru writ large – and by extension, so is the World. We are all detainees, free to go but not allowed to leave.

  20. Terence Mills

    The president of the Canberra press gallery, David Crowe, has said that the pool of journalists, including a reporter, a stills photographer and a TV camera operator, would no longer cover the event if the ABC’s ban were not rescinded.

    News Corp has rejected a boycott of the Pacific Islands Forum by the Australian federal press gallery, which was sparked by a Nauru government ban on the ABC for alleged “bias and false reporting”. News Corp will provide coverage of the forum but will not mention the detention centre or cover the protests by asylum seekers on Nauru.

    Peter Dutton chalks up another win for secrecy and his sponsors at News Corp.

  21. Matters Not

    Re Nauru:

    An ABC camera operator was to be part of a three-person Australian media pool at the forum in September, alongside a journalist and photographer from AAP.

    “AAP fully supports the statement by press gallery president David Crowe,” AAP editor Mike Osborne said.

    The decision also won support from Labor leader Bill Shorten.

    “Good on them,” he told reporters.

    “I am concerned that Mr Turnbull has surrendered so quickly to the debate.”

    But some type of protest needs to go further.


  22. Terence Mills

    Sharri Markson
    ‏Verified account @SharriMarkson

    News Corp does not support this ludicrous ban by the press gallery on covering a PM’s trip to Nauru simply because an ABC cameraman cannot go. So, you can read all the news from the trip in News Corp papers, like @dailytelegraph and @australian but no where else.

  23. Kaye Lee

    I hope that convinces the ABC to stop making us endure her and other News Corpse presstitutes on panels like the Drum and Q&A. Let them all fade away.

  24. Matters Not

    Sharri is a good friend of Vikki Campion. She broke the story.

    It’s always handy to have a influential pater. Hello Max

  25. Kaye Lee

    And there was Caroline Overton on the Drum this evening defending the News Corpse decision, firstly by expressing her concern for the asylum seekeres incarcerated there, even though they have promised not to speak to any refugees, visit the camp, or report on it in anyway. And then she said the Forum was too important not to cover. What a paltry attempt to justify wanting to scoop an exclusive. The government will no doubt provide press releases. They have pot loads of media staff. And there is always the overseas press.

    VERY poor form but that’s exactly what we expect from Murdoch’s mob.

  26. Matters Not

    It is essential that News be present because of the Chinese threat. Perhaps they want to flog the latest technologies re torture techniques. But more likely, wanting to spy on ours – which even have Trump in awe.

  27. Kaye Lee

    As if News Corpse will be in on any meetings about China. They will get the press release like everyone else and they may get an interview with the PM at some stage, which could be done when he gets back. These things don’t last long, specially on Nauru. I doubt they have any 5 star hotels.

  28. Jon Chesterson

    Yes Kyran, the forum’s vision definitely had me barfing… What a load of hypocrisy and bullshit, and more bullshit to come exclusively from News Corp. But I won’t be reading it. And Sky News… Does anyone in Australia actually watch Sky News, it is the most appalling excuse for rant, rape, hate and lies you could ever want to expose yourself to, it’s a brainless rattle, don’t know how they sell it.

  29. helvityni

    Kaye Lee, July 4, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    At least Jackie Lambie called Ms Overton ( Newscorp) to stay away from Nauru in support for the banned ABC..

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