Missing People column is launched
Vale Les Hiatt – boxer & anthropologist

You get a lot less for murder, Albert

Sean Dorney

Today Last week, Albert Asbury closed his innings at the ABC after 50 years. Stories about Albert's exploits as a newsman in both Queensland and Papua New Guinea are legion. He went to PNG in 1969 and became the ABC's political correspondent. In late 1973, Albert was appointed the first news editor of the new National Broadcasting Commission.

Albert covered the early political career of Sir Michael Somare and became a trusted confidant of the major identities of the day including PNG's first Governor General, Sir John Guise. In September, 1975, Albert was amongst those awarded the PNG Independence medal. Years later, he sent me the medal and asked me to hand it back personally to Somare in protest at Sir Michael's disastrous appointment of a thoroughly unsuitable person as chairman of the NBC.

In his years as the ABC's political correspondent in PNG, Albert regularly flew around the country in light aircraft covering the news. PNG is one of the most dangerous places in the world to fly and on one occasion, Albert was on a media plane carrying Australian journos when the pilot became violently ill with food poisoning. They were flying from the Trobriand Islands to Port Moresby and Albert, with no formal flight training, took over the controls. He radioed ahead for an ambulance and with his nervous colleagues quaffing OP rum, Albert steered the plane over the Owen Stanley Ranges and with the guidance of some mumbled instructions from the semi-conscious pilot, brought it down safely.

Albert had a speed boat in PNG and entered his daughter, Ingrid, then only 11, in a water skiingDorney_bertram_asbury_lawrence  marathon. In practice for this Albert used me as his spotter. Unfortunately, one Saturday morning, his spotter, suffering from a severe hangover, fell asleep in the boat. We had shot out of Moresby's Fairfax Harbour and were in the open sea off Ela Beach. I remember passing a Japanese fishing boat and thinking about sharks before dozing off. Minutes later, Albert barked, "Where's Ingrid?" She had fallen off and was nowhere to be seen.

Albert spun the boat around and, after a frantic dash, we found her about two kilometres back. Ingrid, now a Queensland Industrial Relations Commissioner, has, amazingly, forgiven me. She says at the time she could not believe it. She was waving and waving but the boat just keep going until we disappeared in the distance.

Before leaving PNG in 1975, Albert filled in for several months as the ABC's correspondent. Back in Queensland, Albert became the news chief of staff, a job he filled with distinction for the past 32 years.

[Photos: Top - Albert Asbury today. Lower - Port Moresby newsroom early seventies – Sean Dorney, Bruce Bertram, Albert Asbury and Bob Lawrence.]


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)