4 Jan 2006

Norfolk Island rejects claims its services are substandard

2:11 pm on 4 January 2006

Norfolk Island's Chief Minister, Geoff Gardiner, has rejected claims services provided by the local government are substandard.

A federal parliamentary committee says the island's future is precarious and has recommended its residents start paying tax like mainland Australians, so that services can be provided by Canberra.

But Mr Gardiner says he objects to accusations that the island is providing a health service of the standard of a developing nation:

"Are they expecting of us to provide the same standards as you would find in the parliamentary precinct of Canberra or are they standards you would expect in the long run to the farmer out the back of Burke with unsealed roads and lack of telecommunications infrastructure and things like that."

Mr Gardner accepts that further funds are needed to renew and upgrade services.

The island's income has been falling with its main earner, the tourism industry, seeing a twenty per cent drop in activity over the last year.