Aussie workers to take over Govt jobs in Norfolk
Talk of rising anxiety on Norfolk Island as Australia brings in workers from the mainland to take over government jobs.
In a little over three months Australia's removal of Norfolk Island's limited self-rule will be complete and dozens of local workers expect to lose their jobs.
The administration is not yet revealing just what is happening but Border Force staff from the mainland are already on the island and changes in other departments are expected.
A minister in the Norfolk government removed last June, Robyn Adams, told Don Wiseman there is rising anxiety in the island at what may be happening to jobs.
ROBYN ADAMS: "I think it is clear for some people, there is certainly no certainty after 1 July. These bureaucrats and politicians they are making these decisions without drilling down to what is going to be the impact on human beings on their imposing these rules and laws, and that's the problem we have got here."
DON WISEMAN: "If people lose their jobs, are there other jobs there?"
RA: "That in itself is a difficulty. If you find out because of the new taxation regime that is coming in that businesses are going to be closing their doors, the employment market in itself will be shrinking. And the last thing we want to see is the Norfolk Islander being displaced from his homeland, and that is the very real risk that is on the table at this point in time.
DW: "And there have been people that have come from the mainland and taking jobs in Customs, I think it is?"
RA: "We already have on the island officers from Immigration Border Force, they are already in uniforms, setting themselves up, getting ready for 1 July. It is to be hoped jobs will be advertised. Those jobs that were Commonwealth responsibilities - Customs, Immigration, Quarantine etc. - that they will actually advertise for new positions under the new regime and that our people will of course be allowed to apply for those jobs, but they'd be applying on an open market across the Commonwealth.
DW: "Would it be reasonable, from the administration's point of view, if things are changing, for people to have new skills, but has there been any discussion of retraining and bringing people from the island up to standard, up to their standard?"
RA:"Don, I cannot categorically respond to that with certainty. I'm not within that system sufficiently to be able to say that is the case. I would like to think that it is the case. What I'm hearing of course is from the officers who are currently in positions from which they are going to be replaced, it is to them that the Commonwealth is turning now asking 'how do you do things?". That is an insult, seriously.
DW: "This date, July the first, the date when Norfolk Island officially becomes a regional council under New South Wales, and with all of this in terms of the work and other things, what's the mood like among the community?
RA: "Anger. A large proportion of the community are in anger. I think it is a fair thing to say that, absolutely. The federal minister Paul Fletcher was recently on the island and I would say at least 300 members of the community attended the public forum that he convened and there could be no doubt in the minds of anyone observing what the mood of the community is around what is happening. It's anger. They feel betrayed. The agreement with the Commonwealth was there was to be a net benefit for Norfolk Island taking into account local circumstances. You cannot say there is a net benefit when the Norfolk Islander is being displaced from his jobs and his homeland.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: