Aug 14, 2020 Last Updated 10:45 PM, Aug 12, 2020

Islands Business correspondent Nic Maclellan has been awarded the Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific journalism for 2020.

Established by the Walkley Foundation, the Sean Dorney Grant for Pacific Journalism aims to encourage more and better journalism about the Pacific Islands region by Australian media professionals and news outlets.

Making the announcement this week, the Foundation said judges were so impressed with the quality of the applications this year that they decided to award grants of $10,000 each to two deserving recipients, Maclellan and Jo Chander.

Maclellan will use the grant to report on  "France and Pacific self-determination during the COVID crisis"

 The judges were excited by Nic Maclellan's proposal to examine the dynamic relationships between Australia, France and the Pacific in the context of anxiety about growing Chinese influence. His proposal to focus on the perspectives of the Kanak and Maohi peoples – including strong independence movements – in an environment where Australia is increasingly working in partnership with France raises a fascinating set of issues which will play out as New Caledonia heads towards another self-determination referendum and the region recovers from Covid-19.

“Nic is a tremendously experienced and insightful journalist, and Islands Business is very proud to regularly feature his reports and analysis of our region's key political issues. The decision  to award him the grant is well-deserved, and a testament to the quality of his reporting, and the experience he brings to his subject matter,” said Islands Business Managing Editor, Samantha Magick.

The applications were judged by Sean Dorney, Former Pacific Correspondent, ABC, Sue Ahearn, Journalist and Consultant, Michael Bachelard, Walkley Judging Board and Investigations Editor, The Age, Jemima Garrett, Freelance Journalist specialising in the Pacific and Alexander Rheeney, Co Editor, Samoa Observer.

Click through to read some of Nic's most recent stories:

French Prosecutor pursues Temaru (June 2020)

FLNKS demands strict border controls (May 2020)

Pathway across the Pacific (April 2020)

Indepth: Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Meg Taylor (April 2020)

Gaining credits for Kyoto (March 2020)

Throwing coal on the fire (Jan 2020)

McGarry barred from Vanuatu

Vanuatu Daily Post journalist Dan McGarry has been stopped from re-entering the country by Vanuatu immigration officials.

McGarry was until recently, the Media Director for the Daily Post. However the government earlier this month refused to approve his annual work permit renewal. He says this is due to the newspaper’s coverage of Vanuatu’s relationship with China.

Originally from Canada, McGarry is in the process of applying for dual Vanuatu citizenship.

He had been in Brisbane, Australia for a week with his partner. But when they tried to check in for a flight back to Port Vila on Saturday, they were told that Vanuatu Immigration had issued a notice barring the airline from uplifting him. His partner had to return home to their two children alone.

“Repeated attempts to obtain a copy of Vanuatu Immigration’s letter to the airlines were unsuccessful,” McGarry says. “How can I comply with Immigration’s demands if they won’t tell me what I need to do? I feel like a character in Catch 22.”

 “They’re doing what every guilty-minded government does when faced with inconvenient facts: they’d rather shut me up—and shut me out—than engage honestly with the public about the stories we report.”

Last week in a broad-ranging statement about the state of media freedoms and threats in the Pacific, the Melanesia Media Freedom Forum called on the Vanuatu government to uphold the appeal of the Daily Post against the rejection of McGarry’s work permit.

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