Push for say in Norfolk's political future continues
Norfolk Island's effort to convince Australia to give it some input into determining its political status is continuing.
Whether the people of Norfolk Island want a say in determining the island's future political arrangements will be known at the end of this week.
The Australian federal government is now considering legislation to strip Norfolk of its long time autonomy and many on the island are unhappy about it.
The Norfolk government has organised an online referendum to end on May 8th which asks the people if they want a say.
Don Wiseman asked one of the organisers of the 'Say Yes' group, Andre Nobbs, about reports that many on the island are happy with a full Australian take over.
ANDRE NOBBS: The interesting thing in that regard is that there have been numerous statements by the Australian assistant minister for territories and also the Commonwealth representative who is the administrator on Norfolk Island saying there is a silent majority or a majority supporting that Australia come in and take over. Well, there's actually been no substance to those statements. There hasn't actually been a collation of any data for the number of people supporting or not supporting, and what is becoming evident through the lead up to the referendum is that there are a majority of people more concerned about the outcome in the future if they have no representation in terms of democratically elected representatives on the island, or self government type arrangements. I think there has perhaps been an exaggeration by the Commonwealth of the support for Australia to just roll in and do away with all the mechanisms that Norfolk has had in the past.
DON WISEMAN: Is Australia concerned with what your 'yes' group is trying to do?
AN: Yes they are.
DW: They're haven't tried to close it down though, they're going to let it happen aren't they?
AN: Well I would have to say that various mouthpieces for the Australian government including the administrator posted to the island has tried to discredit the referendum process. It almost comes across as if that's in fear of seeing the answer whereby the whole point of all this is making sure that the community actually gets a chance to discuss and be part of the consultation process of whatever formula for constitutional change is to take place on Norfolk so we can all make it a success.
DW: If there is a yes vote, what are you expecting or hoping will happen after that?
AN: I just need to testify is all the vote is about is to say that they want the opportunity to be part of the process to determine the governance arrangements for Norfolk Island. So the outcome from that, if it was a yes, would be then to work through some of the, for example, some of the strategic vision framework document that the Norfolk Island government has worked with the local community on, so I would imagine that would be part of the work going forward as well as the fact that there needs to be very speedy communications with the Australian senate in particular. This isn't necessarily to cause delays or anything like that, but make sure that the process that we go down is one that is successful and doesn't turn Norfolk Island into a welfare dependency. There is great wealth of practical service delivery on the island and certainly the evolution of the legislation has been such that has made it relevant to the small island. And the reason I bring that up is that some time ago the joint standing committee, and this is only within the last six or eight years, the joint standing committee came to Norfolk Island to look at how the Norfolk Island model could be used to improve the other external territories such as Christmas Island.
DW: And now as far as Canberra is concerned, it's going the other way?
AN: Absolutely. And in real terms, there's nothing that gives us confidence that the other way is mapped out with economic modelling or any success on the board or runs on the board for any of the other small islands or small communities for us to then feel confident that the change is any more thought out than on a bureaucrat's desk in Canberra.
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