Hiroki Iijima is re-elected President of the FCA

For the third consecutive year, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (TBS) Reporter, Hiroki Iijima, was elected President of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association (FCA) – Australia & South Pacific. The Japanese Journalist will lead the organisation for the financial year 2019-2020.

The Board is also formed by Vice-President Sandip Hor, Treasurer Liz Lacerda, Honorary Secretary April Pressler, Mimi Chau, Thorsten Joses, Raj Suri and Laurence Arthur (in Melbourne). John Tulloh, a Founder of the FCA, is the Association’s Public Officer. During the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on August 21, around twenty members discussed expectations and the future of the FCA.

At the meeting, President Hiroki Iijima told attendees that the FCA has a total membership of 70, including four life-time Honorary members as well as new members. Hiroki also said that the Association has reinvigorated its relationship with the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), which allows the FCA to use its premises for meetings and events. The President also announced that Tourism Australia renewed FCA’s sponsorship for the financial year 2019-2020.

Amongst the events promoted by the FCA last year are:

September 25, 2018: FCA Briefing with NSW Minister for Primary Industries at NSW Parliament House
October 25, 2018: Former Prime-Minister Kevin Rudd talks to Foreign Correspondents about his new book: “The PM Years”
December 4, 2018: “Investing in Fiji” Program was presented to Foreign Correspondents in Australia
December 8, 2018: FCA Christmas Party at Jazushi; more than 30 people
February 28, 2019: “Luxperience” brings to Australia the latest trends in luxury travelling
March 12, 2019: ABC’s host Kumi Taguchi explores the “Role of Women in Media and Politics” for International Women’s Day
May 25, 2018: Vivid Light Launch party
May 21, 2019: “Sri Lanka Today – From Crisis Recovery to Economy and Tourism”
July 24, 2019: Foreign Correspondents condemn the arrest of a French news team covering a protest in Australia
August 1, 2019: FCA DFAT Canberra Trip
August 12, 2019: Tourism Australia Briefing with Philippa – record numbers attended.

AGM 2019 Photo Gallery
AGM 2019 – Luncheon

For more information on how to become a member, email info@foreigncorrespondents.org.au

AFGHANISTAN – The Views of a Foreign Correspondent

Dieter Herrmann joined the FCA right after his arrival to Australia. He still is correspondent for “Deutsche Welle” and at the same time he works as editor-in-chief for “Die Woche” (“The Week”), Australia’s only German language newspaper.

Dieter is one of the few real experts on Afghanistan. His first trip to Afghanistan started in the early summer of 1973. Since then he had been to the country at the Hindu Kush more than 100 times and in total spent several years in Afghanistan. He got to know all political systems from the kingdom up to the today’s Islamic Republic. In about 60 chapters, based on diaries and memories, he describes his experiences in the country, which has not come to a rest since 1973. Among many other experiences, he was arrested and imprisoned twice during this time, had to live temporarily in the bunker of the Turkish embassy and had an amazing interview with Mullah Muttawakil, the personal spokesman for Taliban leader Mullah Omar and later Taliban Foreign Minister. He describes his personal feelings and doubts as well as political and human events, movements in the population and developments in the country. Nothing about his manuscript has been invented or added – however, to avoid endangering anyone, he left out some of his experiences. He changed some names to protect friends and informants. Whether the last chapter will ever be finished is questionable. He was supposed to be back in Kabul in late 2018, but the security situation was too bad. Now his net trip to the country is planned for late 2019. Nevertheless his contractors are reluctant. “German media trainer murdered by Taliban” would be a catastrophic headline for everyone involved.

Dieter’s blog is available in German language as well as in (broken) English. If you would like to read the blogs in English, please click on www.australia-news.de/?lang=en. Afterwards on the flag of Afghanistan in the middle. The German text is here: www.australia-news.de and then please click on the flag. Previous chapters can easily be opened by clicking on the arrow in the upper left corner of the picture on top. To subscribe please scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Foreign Correspondents condemn arrest of French Journalists in Australia

MEDIA STATEMENT

Arrest of visiting French Journalists in Queensland

The recent arrest of French television correspondent Hugo Clément and his crew during filming near Abbot Point in Queensland is of great concern to every working journalist in Australia – including resident foreign correspondents and members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association, Australia & South Pacific (FCA).

The FCA Board and members of the Association condemn this police action taken against Hugo Clément and his team, and any further attacks on media freedom, in the name of all foreign correspondents based in Australia and travelling to this country and its territories for short-term assignments and we demand that all foreign correspondents are not impeded in their work in this way again in Australia.

Australia has been known over many decades for its respect for the media, and for the courtesies and facilitation given to foreign correspondents to conduct their work while on either short-term visits or as longer-term residents in Australia.

To see any arrests or restrictions placed on working media, and in this case arrests of visiting correspondents’, is seen by us all as a nasty and dangerous development and threat to the modern democracy for which Australia has been known and admired previously.

We seek assurances from all Australian Governments – federal and state – that this police action against Hugo Clément and his television crew, who were simply reporting on an event, will not be repeated.

We also seek assurances from all governments in Australia that foreign correspondents will be accorded full respect, courtesies and assistance in carrying out their work here in the future.

(Signed)

The Board and Members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association, Australia & South Pacific (FCA)

24 July 2019

New FCA Board members were elected at the AGM

FCA’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) elected the Board for 2018 – 2019 on Monday, Aug 5, in DFAT Sydney Conference Room.

The popular Japanese TBS television correspondent Hiroki Iijima was re-elected as President, with Vice- President Sandip Hor, Treasurer Liz Lacerda, Honorary Secretary Wolfgang Mueller, Mimi Chau, Thorsten Joses and Philip Engelberts, plus Laurence Arthur (in Melbourne) and Rob Taylor (in Canberra).

The new Board discussed the future of the FCA with 20 other members.

FCA briefing with the Minister for International Development and the Pacific

During the meeting with members of the Foreign Correspondents Association in Sydney, the International Development Minister, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, said that Australia is making an effort to strengthen ties with the Pacific nations.

The Minister commented on the security agreement with countries in the region, which will cover matters such as defence, law and order, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. Analysts say that the agreement should be used to limit China’s influence in the Pacific.

“The Tourism Opportunity for Australia: 2020 and Beyond”

The Managing Director of Tourism Australia, John O’Sullivan, briefed FCA members on the strategy to build the competitiveness of Australia’s tourism industry and grow its economic contribution. “Tourism 2020” focuses on improving the industry’s performance and competitiveness by pursuing new opportunities for growth.

The “Tourism 2020” goal is to achieve between $115 billion and $140 billion annually – in overnight spend – by 2020. The total overnight visitor spending has already reached a record $107.4 billion for the year ending March 2018. “Tourism 2020” is an initiative of Tourism Australia, the Australian tourism industry and federal, state and territory governments in an effort to maximise tourism’s economic contribution to the Australian people. Read more about the Tourism 2020 strategy.

“US Foreign Policy in Asia and Nuclear-free Korean Peninsula”

Research Fellow in the Foreign Policy and Defence Program at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre, Brendan Thomas-Noone, briefed FCA members on North Korea’s nuclear program and the regional foreign policy role of the US administration, as well as Australia’s responsibilities in supporting a stable and resilient Indo-Pacific.

He said that Australia’s strategy includes the need to provide infrastructure, economic growth, governance support and security assistance to help Pacific and south-east Asian nations cope with Chinese influence.

Foreign Correspondents witness Vivid “Lights On”

FCA members were invited to the “Lightning of the Sails”, which marked the “lights on” beginning of Vivid Sydney 2018 at the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay on Friday, May 25. Invited by Destination NSW, Foreign Correspondents celebrated the 10th anniversary of the biggest festival of light, music and ideas in the world.

During 23 days and nights of visual creativity, Vivid 2018 had nine live precincts across Sydney, including Luna Park for the first time, a free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations and a contemporary music program.

For more information on Vivid Lights Sydney, click here.

FCA Journalists interview Australian Nobel Peace Prize

In 2007, Melbourne-based Tilman Ruff, 62, co-founded the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. Ten years later, the organisation was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In a press briefing for the FCA in Sydney, Dr. Tilman Ruff explained how the “visionary work” has brought the world much closer to a nuclear-free world. On July 7 last year, the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty – the first legally binding international agreement to prohibit nuclear weapons – was adopted by 122 countries.

The interview happened in March 9, 2018, and the Video link, filmed and edited by Thorsten Joses, can be found here.

FCA-DFAT Canberra Trip 29 Nov. 2017

FCA Canberra Trip

Members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Australia and South Pacific were hosted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, on Wednesday to find out more about the department and meet with key ministers.

Twelve foreign correspondents writing for outlets from Germany, America, Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain, China and Pakistan met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop and her shadow, Penny Wong, for on the record interviews and the all-important group photo!

DFAT staff also hosted the correspondents to a delicious working lunch, where the journalists and officials were able to find out more about each other and how the various organisations work.

Although the correspondents missed out on sitting in on the Senate as the marriage equality bill was passed through the upper house, they spent some observing the always-lively Senate Question Time.

The final stop was to the press gallery where Gillian Bradford and Laura Tingle took time out of their very busy day to talk to the foreign correspondents about how Australian political correspondents navigate Parliament House and all its goings-on.

Thank you to everyone who met with the FCA members in Canberra who shared with us their time, thoughts and experience. And a special thanks to Sheree Minehan and all the staff at DFAT who made our day so memorable!

Written by Anna Watanabe, Kyodo News

Ningaloo Reef – nature’s playground

Text: Michaela Lauren
Photographs: Thorsten Joses

Blue sky, red earth and turquoise waters – it looked pretty much like a great location for a beachside holiday anywhere in regional Australia. But, this was a trip with a twist – the real beauty laid well concealed. 

The mild, summery weather welcomed us as we landed on the airstrip at the RAAF Learmonth Base in June 2017– we were ready for our adventure. It started at nearby Exmouth, where we picked up the campervan, our home for the next two weeks.  

Our FCA Christmas party lucky draw price, Tourism Australia’s flights anywhere in Australia for two, led us to the World Heritage listed Ningaloo Coast, located in the most North-Western corner of Australia. It is home to one of the longest fringing reefs in the world, boasting more than 500 species of fish and 220 species of coral, right off the beach.

It took a snorkel, a pair of fins and a wetsuit to uncover what was hidden underneath the calm waters. For 10 days, we swam amongst thousands of fish, cruised next to humpback whales, dugongs and turtles, and explored the massive, some thousands of years old, coral formations. Despite two attempts, we missed out on the whale shark encounter, which the area is renowned for. Swimming with sting rays and playing with majestic manta rays well and truly made up for that.  

We stayed in Coral Bay and the Cape Range National Park. In comparison to the East coast, the area is remote and undeveloped. Only a few hundred locals provide services to tourists in Coral Bay during high season and a total digital detox is possible at the National Park, where a dip in the ocean is your only opportunity to bathe.   

It was a fabulous two weeks of bare feet, salty hair and sunny days in nature’s very own playground. We will return. Our sincerest thanks to Tourism Australia for contributing to our amazing Australian holiday adventure.