Nauru Halts Australian, New Zealand Visitor Visas, Blames ABC

19/02/2016 12:48 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
NEW! HIGHLIGHT AND SHARE
Highlight text to share via Facebook and Twitter
Supplied

The government of Nauru has suspended visitor visas for Australians and New Zealanders and after it accused ABC of "dishonestly" entering the country.

But the ABC has denied to claim, saying it's journalists applied for a journalists visa and not a tourist one.

The Huffington Post Australia has been told by Nauru Airlines visitor visas had been cancelled, while a Twitter account linked to the Nauru government said visas were not revoked, but procedures had changed.

In a series of since deleted tweets, the government accused Australia's national broadcaster "using deception" to enter the country.

The government later issued a statement saying it had changed the procedures for visitor visas for Australians and New Zealanders entering Nauru.

"This is a result of some media representatives dishonestly entering Nauru on false documentation," the statement said.

"No visas held by Australian and New Zealand workers who enter Nauru for legitimate work reasons are affected. Holders of visitor visas to Nauru should contact the Consulate of Nauru in Brisbane if further information is required."

A spokesperson for ABC News said there is no journalist on assignment in Nauru.

"ABC News journalists have applied through official channels for journalist visas to visit Nauru, not for tourist visas," the spokesman said.

NSW Greens MP Sarah Hanson Young said the governments of Australia and Naurua are "desperate to hide what’s really going on there."

“This is a paranoid overreaction and it shows why it’s so important that the island be opened up to the media," she said in a statement.

“A North Korean style media blackout was bad enough, but shutting down access to all Australian and New Zealand visitor is an extreme response."

Journalist visas to Nauru are notoriously difficult to obtain after the country upped its application fee to $8000 shortly after Australia opened an immigration detention centre there.

The account later deleted tweets that mentioned the national broadcaster, saying it was acting on updated information from the government.

The move comes as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meets his New Zealand counterpart John Key in Sydney.

Earlier this week it was reported that Key said it was "potentially possible" for New Zealand to take in some of the asylum seekers from a group of 267 expected to be deported to Nauru, after the High Court threw out a challenge to the Government's offshore detention network earlier this month.

The group includes more than 30 babies.

"That offer is there," he said.

"Historically the Australians have said no, but it is part of the 750 allocation that we have.

"If they wanted us to take people, then subject to them meeting the criteria, New Zealand would be obliged to do that."

But Mr Turnbull has reportedly refused to be drawn on the issue on Friday.

The Nauru visa announcement also comes amid a stand-off between doctors and Australia's immigration department over discharging asylum seeker baby “Asha” from a Brisbane hospital.

Doctors are refusing to release the one-year-old until a "suitable home environment is identified".

Immigration minister Peter Dutton has said the infant will be returned to the country once she had recovered from wounds from a boiling water accident on Nauru.

The Nauru government has been engaged in a sustained PR war with journalists and asylum seeker advocates, amid repeated allegations of poor living conditions for asylum seekers on the island.

The government said no existing visas for Australians working in Nauru are affected.

HuffPost Australia has sought comment from the ABC and Nauru's department of immigration.

More On This Topic

Advertisement
Advertisement