Nauru has shot itself in the foot with ABC ban

The tiny island nation of Nauru houses an Australian immigration detention facility

ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN The tiny island nation of Nauru houses an Australian immigration detention facility

While government officials might privately daydream about banning certain media outlets or journalists from covering their activities, the prospect suddenly became very real in wake of the government of Nauru blocking a representative of the ABC from attending the upcoming Pacific Islands Forum.

Nauru based the decision on what it called the ABC's "blatant interference" in domestic politics before the country's 2016 election and a lack of respect toward President Baron Waqa.

We consulted with the Australian government and nominated an AAP reporter, an AAP photographer and an ABC camera operator to form this media pool, who would share their work with others.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat says that while Nauru has stated its concerns about media reporting, the Forum has always stood by the principles of free and open media.

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"It is our right, as it is the right of every nation, to choose who is allowed to enter", it added in a statement late Monday. "It is a matter for Nauru".

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong labelled the decision disappointing, and called on the prime minister to stress the importance of press freedom to Nauru.

On Tuesday the Nauruan government said the ABC's statement that it would not relinquish its spot was "arrogant, disrespectful and a further example of the sense of entitlement shown by this activist media organisation".

Media have a particular interest in Nauru because Australia pays the impoverished population of fewer than 10,000 people to house asylum seekers who attempt to reach Australian shores by boat.

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It will host the annual Pacific Islands Forum between September 1 and 9 for delegates from more than 30 countries, including 18 member states.

Federal Press Gallery president David Crowe said the ban was an outrageous restriction on press freedom.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Turnbull said it would be "regrettable" if the ABC were not able to attend the Pacific Islands Forum and the Australian government would "love to have" the ABC there.

"This decision follows already restrictive reporting conditions, limiting the number of journalists who can attend this important regional summit".

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