Meet The Author Of ‘Redeeming Moti’

The unusual case of Julian Moti was a David and Goliath battle with the might of the Australian government pitched against one man – Julian Moti. The shameful and now
11 May 2017 11:00
Meet The Author Of ‘Redeeming Moti’

The unusual case of Julian Moti was a David and Goliath battle with the might of the Australian government pitched against one man – Julian Moti. The shameful and now discredited manner in which the Fijian-born international constitutional law expert was treated by the Australian authorities is no secret.

While the Australian press labelled him a paedophile – without any trial or anything to prove his guilt – one woman stuck to her ground and committed herself to telling the tale of Mr Moti the way she saw things unfold.

That woman is Susan Merrell. She was not yet a seasoned journalist when Mr Moti’s case caught her eye. Far from it. She was an academic who had just completed her Masters of Media Practice at the University of Sydney in Australia.

That was then. Ten years after the persecution of Mr Moti began, Ms Merrell is in Suva, now recognised as an investigative journalist and outspoken commentator specialising in Australia and Melanesia.

She is currently in the country to launch her book ‘Redeeming Moti’ which she wrote after Mr Moti won his case in the highest Australian court of law.

Ms Merrell is Welsh and a descendant of coal miners. She currently operates as a political commentator, commenting on the politics of Papua New Guinea and lives in Australia.

Recalling how the case of Mr Moti started: she remembers the hostility she faced from fellow journalists in Australia.

“One even told me ‘I don’t trust you’,” Ms Merrell recounted with a laugh.

She started as a freelance journalist with Mr Moti’s case being the first big story she covered.  Although her’s was a big story in the Pacific, it was a story that no mainstream Australian media outlet was willing to pay her for – and she even found it difficult to give away copy – her’s was not the angle the Australian press wanted.

There was palpable media hostility to Mr Moti, whipped up by the Australian government of the day. Hardly any were prepared to confront the excesses of the Australian government.

“People talked about journalistic ethics, but this case left me feeling that it’s all rubbish – lip service,” she said yesterday.

The outspoken journalist makes no excuses about how she saw Mr Moti’s persecution take place.

She shared how during one of the court hearings where the day coincided with the Melbourne Cup she witnessed an exchange of two of her fellow journalists who were peeved by the fact that they had to cover the court proceedings while their other colleagues were celebrating the horse race.

The two decided amongst themselves not to cover the hearing, saying that it did not happen if they did not report on it.

She was alarmed and baffled by their behaviour that she found very unethical.

Ms Merrell believes, as do many others, that trumped up charges and a political witchhunt was mounted against Mr Moti when he became the Attorney-General of the Solomon Islands (and before, when they thought he may be appointed). He was targeted because he was questioning the influence of Australia through RAMSI in the Solomon Islands.

Especially troubling to the Australians was that the then government of the Solomon Islands was considering replacing Australian’s financial role with Chinese loans, and Mr Moti had met with Chinese officials for initial discussions.

In Australia, she said, elections have often been won and lost on issues of security and having Australian influence removed from Solomon Islands was a major issue that no Australian government wanted to deal with.

She reveals all this and more in her book that is being launched this afternoon at Suva’s Albert Park Pavilion. Signed copies of the book will be up for grabs at a special price of $50 each. Members of public are advised to RSVP with Nikhat of University of Fiji on since space is limited.

The launch is facilitated by the University of Fiji’s School of Law and its Dean Shaista Shameem.

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