She replaces Rex Gardner, who was kicked out by the military-backed regime last month in fallout from the contempt affair. Two other Australian executives were deported last year - the Fiji Sun's Russell Hunter in February and the Fiji Times' Evan Hannah in May. News Ltd chairman and chief executive John Hartigan pledged his company's commitment to the Fiji Times group: "[The papers] will remain free and independent publications." But not everybody in Fiji agrees with the move. Some are questioning the need for expat publishers in the first place. Laminar-Flow's Stuck in Fiji M.u.d blog had this to say in a scathing posting (mostly about the Pacific Islands Forum circus in Port Moresby):
The question of how and why - despite 120 years of existence - the Fiji Times still can't produce or employ any local publisher, comic strip series or independent columnist, or separate Sport/ Editorial/Opinion is now an alarming question, considering the circumstances. Such are questions that have been avoided, by the local media's coverage of the deportation of foreign citizens. One of the most poignant questions asked among local journalists: Aren't Fiji citizens capable or qualified enough to be employed as the Fiji Times publisher?
It is quite alarming that Fiji Times [has] had an alarming over reliance on foreign citizens, employed as publishers, taking the job away from any local prospect. An outrageous policy that equates with, a distinct non-compliance of localisation of vacant positions. If there were rules for local content in published comic strips, most print publication in Fiji would be audited as a complete and abject failure ...
Or was the omni-presence of Australian citizens employed in the local media
agencies throughout the Pacific region, an extension of these reoccurring themes
of embedded journalist/intelligence agent programs?