Island’s demands ahead of $200m Qld takeover

 

Norfolk Island residents are demanding a voice in Queensland's parliament and the chance to vote in elections amid a growing likelihood the island will fall under Sunshine State control.

Queensland has entered 'positive' discussions with the federal government about the state providing health and education services on the island in a deal tipped to be worth $192 million.

The island has been considered part of New South Wales since 2016 when the Commonwealth removed its independent government and appointed a federal administrator.

Norfolk Island Council of Elders president David Buffett has invited Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to visit the island. Picture: Kit Wilson
Norfolk Island Council of Elders president David Buffett has invited Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to visit the island. Picture: Kit Wilson

Norfolk Island residents, still seething over the removal of their government, are demanding Queensland give them a Member of parliament and the chance to vote in state elections.

The island's peak representative groups, the Council of Elders and People for Democracy, have written a joint letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk questioning what life will be like under a Queensland regime.

Council of Elders President David Buffett said the island's residents were living in an "undemocratic" society, with no vote in federal or state elections.

"We are asking for no more and no less than what the Australian people take for granted - that is, that our legal rights be upheld and democratic government," he said.

"There has always been a deficit of consultation with the people of Norfolk Island to ascertain what they wish for their community.

"We too want to be able to build a society based on democracy, freedom and peace."

Tourism bosses believe Norfolk Island will be another jewel in the state’s tourism crown. Picture: Supplied
Tourism bosses believe Norfolk Island will be another jewel in the state’s tourism crown. Picture: Supplied

Mr Buffett invited Ms Palaszczuk to visit the island and understand the "difficulties associated with the imposed governance model".

A spokesman for Ms Palaszczuk said she was assessing the matter "very closely".

"Queensland's conversations with the Federal Government are progressing positively," he said.

"As a decentralised state, Queensland has vast experience in delivering services like health and education in regional areas and would be well-equipped and well-placed to support the Norfolk Island community."

Queensland tourism bosses believe the isolated Australian territory, located about 1400km off Brisbane in the Pacific Ocean with just 1800 residents, will be another jewel in the state's tourism crown.

 

Regional Development and Territories Assistant Minister Nola Marino suspended Norfolk Island's council on December 15 following concerns about its governance, financial performance and sustainability.

Ms Marino has now revealed a public inquiry would be held into whether the council "has fulfilled its financial and asset management obligations under the Local Government Act".

She has also declared the council elections would be postponed for 12 months.

 

Q&A

How is the island managed now?

Norfolk Island has its own federally-appointed administrator. Its regional council provides local services, but teachers and health professionals are funded through NSW. Norfolk is represented in the Australian parliament with by Canberra-based MP David Smith.

Why is Queensland set to take over?

New South Wales' six-year deal to provide health and education services to Norfolk Island won't be renewed in June. The ACT has declined to offer support, leaving Queensland to step up.

What could the deal look like?

Queensland laws will be applied in a deal worth $192m to provide health and education on the remote island, which houses just 1800 people.

Can island residents vote?

They don't have a voice or a vote in the NSW parliament and it's unlikely they will get one in Queensland.

 

 

 

Originally published as Island's demands ahead of $200m Qld takeover


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