Free Naomi and the Papua 5!

Robson Fur
Indonesia’s prisons are full to bursting point with Australians. Not only are Schapelle Corby and the Bali 9 currently sweating in our northern neighbour’s jails – though most of the latter group won’t be for long, tragically – but the queen of tabloid current affairs herself, Naomi Robson, has been arrested along with her crew for having a tourist visa. Oh, the injustice.

The SMH report points out that this wouldn’t exactly be hard to detect, since there’s a full camera crew with her. Usually when reporters want to surreptitiously film under a tourist visa, they use one operator and a domestic-looking camera. Tourism visas may well have been the appropriate option. But I dispute any suggestion that they’ve got the wrong visa. Anyone who knows her work would find it completely credible that Robson would have hired a professional camera crew to shoot her holiday footage.

She must be freed immediately, because she has important work to do – not just for Seven, but also for Indonesia, if not humanity itself. I don’t believe she wants report about cannibals and potentially embarrass Indonesia. It was probably just that someone in West Papua, who may or may not have been a cannibal, welfare cheat, rip-off merchant, or youth gone wild. I can guarantee that what she is actually there to do is condemn someone down on their luck, and possibly mentally ill, to provide a spectacle that confirms the petty prejudices of middle Australia.

Come to think of it, that might mean doing a report about how all Papuans are cannibals after all.

The sad thing is that the Yudhoyono Government could have worked with Naomi. They aren’t happy about Australia’s recent decision to grant asylum to a bunch of West Papuans, and who better to pick on possibly bogus refugees than Today Tonight? The Government shouldn’t be kicking her out of the country, they should be leading her straight to Papua’s shonky refugee boat operators, so she can harangue them about jumping the queue.

Seven’s head of News, Peter Meakin, denied that Robson’s uncharacteristic trip to cover a real story was a bid for credibility, telling ABC radio that “We don’t decide what stories to do on the basis of journalistic credibility.” Of course they don’t! Had the interviewer ever watched the show? Let’s just say that TT isn’t generally angling for Walkleys.

So shame on to the Indonesian Government for deporting Naomi because she didn’t have a journalist visa. I sincerely hope some junior reporter is dispatched to kick the relevant authorities’ door in and ask the tough, simplistic questions. Come on – as if the host of Today Tonight would ever be involved in journalism.

Dominic Knight

Photo: Shaney Balcombe

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