CB Radios Donated to Rabi by Qld Police and King Family - Appeared in 'Gold Coast Bulletin'

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Island of Rabi Just the Ticket for Iain


by Suzanne Lappeman


The following article appeared in the ‘Gold Coast Bulletin' Monday 7 November, 1996

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The private passion of Gold Coast traffic cop Iain King has been 'exposed' on 60 Minutes and Foreign Correspondent - but it is something he is not ashamed of.

A trip to the impoverished Pacific island of Rabi five years ago to research his wife's family history was turned into a mission to help islanders that has consumed the King family.

Sergeant King may be feared on the Gold Coast for his tough stand on drink drivers but to the 4500 struggling inhabitants of Rabi he and his wife, Stacey, are frequent visitors who are known only as benefactors.

What the Kings found on Rabi was a community barely surviving on an island to which they had been transplanted after their own island of Banaba was destroyed by phosphate mining.

"My wife's great-great-grandfather was a phosphate miner on the Island - and they destroyed it," said Sgt King.

"Of 4 square miles, only 150 acres are habitable, so after the war they moved the Banabans to a deserted island called Rabi.

"We wanted to help them. Her family had helped destroy their homeland and we wanted to go back and help them."

Since then the Kings have obtained donations of clothes, books, toys, computers and equipment with the help of Rotary groups in Australia and the United States, and this year they formed the Banaban Heritage Society to draw attention to the community's plight.

The couple has also managed to attract the attention of television programs such as 60 Minutes, which sent reporter Charles Woolley to the island.

Woolley was so moved by the Banabans that last week he agreed to be a patron of the new society.

Yesterday, Sgt King left on another trip to the island where he will use his 20 years of police experience to set up an emergency network.

Eleven solar-powered CB radios will be installed, with the technical advice of fellow Gold Coast police officers, to link the four major villages on the island to the police station, hospital and schools.

Sgt King said that despite the work he had to do and the two day trip to get to the remote island, it was always a pleasure to be welcomed by the grateful and loving people.

"They are lovely people and we always feel very welcome," he said.

Sgt King said the island was a complete change of pace after the Gold Coast. Drink driving and crime were fortunately not a problem in the island community, he said, which is serviced by only 11 police officers.

"With only one four-wheel drive, a couple of lorries and two school buses to contend with, Rabi is always a welcome relief from my usual work here on the Gold Coast," he said.



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