26 Mar 2003

Norfolk Islanders hope changes to electoral requirements acceptable

4:34 pm on 26 March 2003

Norfolk Island will have to wait some time before finding out whether changes it has made to its electoral requirements are acceptable to Australia.

Geoff Bennett, a former member of the island's Legislative Assembly, says people are unhappy about being pushed around by Australia but hope the island's latest amendments to the law will provide a compromise.

These include the addition of Australian, New Zealand or United Kingdom citizenship as a condition for enrolment and a reduction in the residency requirement from 900 days to 12 months.

Geoff Bennett says the changes still have to be agreed to by the Australian governor-general but people on the island want the matter settled.

"I don't think they're happy that they're continuinally being pushed around by the Australian Federal Government, but this issue's been around for years and years, and years, and quite frankly many are just wanting to see it it tidied and set aside, so for many the compromise is not totally acceptable, but it's a reasonable one to work with if it'll mean that the issue of interference in our electoral system disappears:."

The Australian minister of territories, Wilson Tuckey, is not making any public comment on the changes to the legislation until he has responded to Norfolk Island's Legislative Assembly.

Australia said earlier that only Australian citizens should qualify to vote, and that this should happen after six months of residency.