20 Aug 2004

Canberra signals softening of Norfolk policy

3:28 pm on 20 August 2004

There are signs that Canberra is relaxing its demands that Norfolk Island comply with mainland electoral laws.

Canberra has said for some time that to meet international conventions on human rights only Australian citizens should vote for the island's legislature and the qualification period be reduced to six months residency from the present 900 days.

But Jim Lloyd, the new Minister for Federal Territories, who visited Norfolk this week for the 25th anniversary of the island's legislature, indicated he was mindful of the cultural heritage and issues within small communities.

The Minister told the Norfolk Islander newspaper that he did not believe Government should come in and ride roughshod over those beliefs and those communities.

He said they could guide and suggest ideas, but he was not a believer in big government coming in to smaller communities and telling them what to do.