8 Nov 2019

Vanuatu's Daily Post director to appeal work permit rejection

4:17 pm on 8 November 2019

The media director of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper, Dan McGarry, says he will appeal the Labour Department's rejection of his work permit.

The media director of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper, Dan McGarry.

The media director of Vanuatu's Daily Post newspaper, Dan McGarry. Photo: Facebook / Dan McGarry

Mr McGarry, a Canadian who has lived in Vanuatu for 16 years, yesterday had his application to renew his work permit turned down by the country's Labour Department.

He was told his position should be localised, but said he believed the refusal was because of the Daily Post's coverage of the government.

Today, Mr McGarry said he was lodging an appeal to be considered by an independent panel largely made up of public servants which he said he trusted would resist any outside influence.

"And if that fails we can take it to judicial review and we are willing to fight this out as long as it takes because the precedent that this sets not only for the media but all of Vanuatu businesses is quite dangerous.

"It basically allows the government to operate by fiat and that is not something that we can allow."

'We need to localise that position'

However, Vanuatu's Labour Commissioner denied that the refusal of Mr McGarry's work permit was upon direction from the Charlot Salwai-led government.

Muriel Meltenoven said her decision to refuse the permit was based on rules promoting localisation of employment positions.

The commissioner said recent amendments to the Work Permit Act require foreigners applying to provide a plan for a ni-Vanuatu to be trained to succeed them.

She said that in this case, a ni-Vanuatu journalist with the Daily Post, Jane Joshua, had been identified by the company as the local counterpart nominated to replace with Mr McGarry to eventually succeed him.

But she said that in the case of Mr McGarry, who has been in the job since 2015, an adequate succession plan wasn't provided.

Vanuatu's Labour Commissioner, Muriel Meltenoven.

Vanuatu's Labour Commissioner, Muriel Meltenoven. Photo: Vanuatu Government

"In the application of the work permit to my office, I need to see a training plan, I need to see a succession plan for about four years," Ms Meltenoven said.

"It is about time that we need to localise that position. And given that there are so many capable ni-Vanuatu people serving for that company for so many years, it's good, and we encourage Daily Post Limited to promote those people into positions of editor or managing director."

Mr McGarry said he always had a local successor prepared to take over his role in the various jobs he has held over his 16 years in Vanuatu.

According to him, at the Daily Post '"we have a fantastic editor, Jane Joshua, who is responsible for running the paper. She's been in position for about 18 months, so she's still, you know, quite new at the job".

"She is exceptional and I have full confidence in her," Mr McGarry said, "but the job of media director is much closer to that of publisher than editor, and I think that is something the Commissioner of Labour has failed to take on board."

The rejection of his permit jeopardises the newspaper publisher's ability to live in Vanuatu long-term.

Mr McGarry is married to a ni-Vanuatu, with whom he has children, and considers Vanuatu his home.

"I have spent all my years here in service to this country. I love Vanuatu. I can't imagine a life without it," he said.