Norfolk protest going strong after two weeks
A protest occupation on Norfolk Island continues to gain support as more and more people are laid off by the Australian administration.
The spokesman for Norfolk Island's People for Democracy group says a protest occupation at the former legislative assembly is gaining in support.
The peaceful protest, over Australia's removal of the island's limited self government, began two weeks ago.
Many on the island have been crying foul for months and last month a petition was presented at the United Nations seeking listing as a non-self governing territory.
Andre Nobbs told Don Wiseman what is driving the increased backing for the occupation.
ANDRE NOBBS: There is the obvious will for the petition to be assessed in terms of Norfolk's self determination, but equally, and of extreme concern to this whole community, is watching the destruction of people's lives as the Australian government's representatives run a gamut of sackings throughout our public service. So I am aware more than a third of the public servants have been given letters that range in content to say 'you are surplus to requirements' or 'you don't have a job because of your skill set', even though we haven't assessed your skill set and interviewed you. And it is creating a level of distress for many families, particularly as, in some cases, both partners have been given the letters and they have young families, and I am talking about many young families, and mortgages. And so there is also a high degree of fear and, I suppose, oppression and bullying, coming out of this, whereby the public sector employees are petrified about being seen to make a noise about these sackings in case it further impacts on other members of their family or others around them or impacts them more harshly than is currently the case.
DON WISEMAN: Have any of them been told they may have a chance to re-apply?
AN: Certainly there have been some veiled words put about that there will be some other jobs to apply for but as we have just been informed this week, what is advertised is a significantly smaller pool of jobs to a large pool of people who are facing unemployment. So it is creating in effect a dog-eat-dog atmosphere here that is adding to the stress and pressure.
DW: Now Australia has touted the fact that these people, or the Australians, will qualify for the unemployment benefit, which they haven't qualified for before, but, of course, many of the people on the island are New Zealanders aren't they, so what happens to them?
AN: They are left in no-man's land. And let me just point out that those people who get the sack, and perhaps they might get a small redundancy, under the dole arrangements Australian support for the unemployed, they will pretty much have to exhaust any redundancy payment before they can get any support there, so it means they won't have a buck or a safety net. The processing for becoming a welfare recipient, on the dole, or whatever other methodology, will take quite some time and quite a degree of documentation. So that is additional stress, both financially and healthwise as well.
DW: And on the subject of health there are significant health issues issues arising from all of this?.
AN: I recently had a report prepared for me. That report shows through the reporting at the hospital an incredibly high spike in stress related health issues, directly attributed to the imposed, Australian imposed changes and the abrasive manner in change management that is just driving people to despair.
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