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Pacific Media Watch newsdesk

Retired politics professor and historian Robert “Robbie” Robertson, 69, co-author of the book Shattered Coups about the 1987 coups led by then Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, has died in Melbourne, his family has confirmed.

Dr Robertson wrote the book with his partner Akosita Tamanisau, then a Fiji journalist. It was published in January 1988 and he also wrote other books and papers on Fiji and globalisation.

He and Dr William Sutherland co-authored the fast moving and readable Government by the Gun: The unfinished business of Fiji’s 2000 coup.

Shattered Coups cover
The cover of Shattered Coups … co-author Dr Robertson expelled by Fiji’s coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

His last book on Fiji in 2017 was The General’s Goose: Fiji’s contemporary tale of misadventure.

Dr Robertson was the second person at the University of the South Pacific to have his work permit rescinded and he was deported to New Zealand by Rabuka.

Attempts to have him relocated to Port Vila were sabotaged by the then Vanuatu government.

Moved to Australia
He moved to Australia and joined La Trobe University and became associate professor of history and development studies in Bendigo.

Dr Robertson returned to USP from 2004 to 2006 as professor and director of development studies.

Subsequently, he served as professor and head of school of arts and social sciences at James Cook University (2010-2014) and as professor and dean of arts, social sciences and humanities at Swinburne University of Technology from July 2014 until he retired.

Retired professor of development studies at USP Dr Vijay Naidu and New Zealand researcher Dr Jackie Leckie recalled his contribution as a progressive and inspirational academic, and his sense of humour, Dr Leckie saying “Robbie was one of the good guys. I am so sorry that he had suffered in health recently.”

Dr Robertson is survived by his wife Akosita and sons Nemani and Julian.

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