Despite Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s push to strengthen ties with Indonesia during a meeting with business and government delegates on Tuesday morning, a press conference following the breakfast was restricted to the Australian media.
Local media, including the Jakarta Globe, were not allowed to attend the press briefing that saw Abbott and Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, speak with Australian media.
Umar Idris, the chairman of the Jakarta branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), said it was the first time he had heard of a case where local journalists had been excluded from a conference, and condemned the move.
“Australia has good press freedom and so they should practice that in Indonesia as well,” Umar told the Globe. “Tony Abbott’s visit is important for the Indonesian media, and journalists should be granted open, equal access.”
The move comes as the Australian government has enforced a media blackout where it will now only hold one press conference a week for Australian media on asylum-seeker issues.
However, following the tragic sinking of an Australia-bound boat off of the coast of West Java on Friday, which resulted in the deaths of at least 36 Middle Eastern asylum seekers, Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison broke the media silence.
He rejected reports from survivors made to the Sydney Morning Herald that a rescue was delayed by 24 hours, issuing a statement on Sunday saying that Australia did “respond to all such events with great professionalism and a keenly felt sense of duty, as they did on this occasion.”