Police near smoking blockades in Dumbea-sur-Mer, New Caledonia.
Unrest has led to several deaths, with dozens injured in the Pacific island territory. Image by EPA PHOTO

No, PM did not say he’s ready to send troops to New Caledonia

Kate Atkinson May 23, 2024

Anthony Albanese has declared he is ready to deploy Australian troops to quash protests in New Caledonia.


False. Mr Albanese has made no such claim.

False claims about Australia’s involvement in managing unrest in New Caledonia are being shared on social media, amid deadly protests over voting rights. 

At least six people have been killed and hundreds injured after violence erupted in the French-ruled Pacific island territory last week.

It is being claimed that Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said he is ready to deploy Australian troops to stop the uprising.

In particular, the claim has been spread by Simeon Boikov, also known as “Aussie Cossack”, a pro-Putin online commentator who has sought refuge at the Russian embassy in Sydney following an assault charge.

Crossed out Facebook post says Australian troops off to New Caledonia.
 Mr Boikov’s post has been shared widely on social media. 

“Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese declares he is ready to deploy Australian troops to New Caledonia to help France quash the local indigenous natives who are protesting against French colonial oppression,” his post states.

Mr Boikov’s post from May 20 has been viewed more than 125,000 times at the time of writing. 

His post also includes a 40-second excerpt taken from a six-minute ABC TV news report. This report includes audio of an ABC radio interview with Mr Albanese.

The 40-second clip ends with the prime minister saying “…the Australian Defence Force is certainly ready to fly.”

However, his quote has been cut short in the clip posted by Mr Boikov. His full answer, which is featured in the six-minute report, explains this relates to organising repatriation flights.

There is no mention of sending troops – or being ready to send troops.

Mr Boikov’s 40-second clip also features the ABC presenter introducing the news segment. 

French President Emmanuel Macron arriving at Noumea police station
 French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the country on Thursday 

“The prime minister says the defence force is on standby to fly to New Caledonia to help restore order in the country,” she says.

However, there is nothing in the following six-minute segment or in any public statement made by the prime minister to suggest he has said the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is “on standby” to fly and “help restore order in the country”.

Mr Albanese’s comments on the ongoing unrest have focused on the evacuation of Australians, information about consular assistance and safety warnings

When contacted on Thursday afternoon (May 23) about the news report, the ABC said the presenter’s opening statement about troops being on standby to restore order was incorrect. 

The ABC has subsequently published a correction and removed the segment from YouTube, Facebook and iView.

AAP FactCheck approached the prime minister’s office for comment.

The Department of Defence responded, stating it is not deploying troops to the Pacific territory. 

“The ADF is supporting the Australian Government’s response to assist Australians and other tourists depart from New Caledonia,” a spokesman said.

The Verdict

The claim that Anthony Albanese has declared he is ready to deploy Australian troops to quash protests in New Caledonia is false.

The prime minister has made no such statement. 

The ABC has issued a correction about its news report which incorrectly stated the prime minister had said the defence force is on standby to fly and restore order in the country.

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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