Tony Abbott Prevented Media From Covering His Trip To Iraq

Things you might not be aware of: Prime Minister Tony Abbott is currently in Iraq. The reason you mightn’t be aware of it is because the Prime Minister‘s notoriously prickly office prevented a film crew sent by major media networks from entering Iraq, and severely limited press access during his official duties in the war-torn nation.

Abbott made the short-notice visit to meet up with his Iraqi counterpart, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, and discuss Australia’s military involvement in the region.
In past visits, including ones made by John Howard, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, major media companies have pooled resources together to send a team to Iraq with the political convoy to cover the trip. These teams usually consisted of a camera crew, a radio journalist, a journalist from the AAP, and two print journalists – one from Fairfax and one from NewsCorp
But in this instance, even with a crew scrambled together with the assumption that they would be flying into Baghdad with the Prime Minister as has been the case in previous visits, upon arriving in Dubai the team was told they’d be staying there, with them being barred from boarding the RAAF Hercules dispatched to collect the PM and his team.
Instead, footage is being provided to media companies by the officially sanctioned team from the Prime Minister’s Office directly – a crew that is employed by the PMO and consists of a sole camera operator and photographer – both classified officially as political advisors.
Coverage of the trip is being restricted to simply Abbott’s speech in front of Australian troops, and a joint statement issued by both Prime Ministers. No questions from Australian journalists were heard.
Journalism is a tough gig at the best of times, and there are certain assignments that are dangerous and intimidating. But the removal of choice, the evasion of scrutiny, and the restriction of information is always cause for great concern. And Australia’s media personalities are not amused.

Whether it was a legitimate security concern, or part of the continued throttling of his outward media image, either way the brow furrows.

Photo: Stefan Postles via Getty Images.