20 Feb 2003

Australian government to amend Norfolk Island electoral process

12:13 pm on 20 February 2003

The Australian Government, which has announced it will enforce a controversial amendment to the Norfolk Island electoral process, is also considering further changes.

The Minister of Territories, Wilson Tuckey, announced earlier this month that the Norfolk Island Act would be changed to ensure voters and candidates are Australian citizens, and that they qualify after six months of residency on the island.

The current qualification period is 900 days.

Despite widespread opposition to the changes, Mr Tuckey says they must be made to ensure Australia does not breach international conventions on human rights, particularly the right to cast a vote.

And he says he would like to see other changes to the island's political system.

"The place is very difficult to govern, more particularly because you can petition your government out of existence. It doesn't give them a chance to manage the economy and other things very well. It strikes me - and this is a personal view - that really the position of Chief Minister should be elected seperately from the members of the Assembly. It's a little bit presidential if you like, but I think it would give them authority."

Australia's Minister of Territories, Wilson Tuckey