By AUDREY YOUNG

Helen Clark appears to find journalists disagreeable at present, especially if they are Australians.

A reporter from the radio station 2UE covering the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji politely asked the New Zealand Prime Minister at a press conference yesterday: "Miss Clark, can I ask you a question on your opinion about Australia trying to put up an Australian as secretary-general of the forum?"

Apparently not. "No. I'm not entertaining questions like that from the Australian media."

The New Zealand Herald reporter then asked the same question, and a pleasant response was forthcoming.

But Helen Clark is not feeling well-disposed towards journalists.

She is reported to have spent much of her first post-election caucus attacking the media, and Labour strategists blame the media for the party's dramatic loss of support during the campaign.

The consensus among the Australians yesterday was that Helen Clark was still smarting about the ABC interview by David Hardaker, also during the campaign, which she terminated by walking out.

He had raised questions about her sexuality and the so-called Paintergate affair.

Her abruptness was not confined strictly to Australians yesterday.

To a question about whether island states had legitimate cause to feel the forum was being dominated by officials, she said bluntly: "It's entirely up to leaders whether they want to be run by officials. I've never suffered from the problem myself."