20 Mar 2015

Australia accused of shipwrecking Norfolk democracy

2:27 pm on 20 March 2015
Norfolk Island

Norfolk Island Photo: Supplied

A member of the Norfolk Island parliament says democracy has been shipwrecked on the island with Canberra deciding to go ahead with plans to curb its autonomy.

The Norfolk Island culture minister, Robin Adams, says Australia announced its decision just 3 hours after the island's parliament had voted to hold a referendum to give the locals a voice in determining any changes.

She says the 18th of March 2015 will go down in the history books as a day of shame; the day Canberra removed a democratically elected government.

Ms Adams says this not because of failures of governance but because of a perceived need to strengthen the Norfolk Island economy.

She says if a true democratic process was being followed, the next step that should happen is allowing a referendum.

The way Australia went about releasing the information has also angered some on the island.

A Norfolk resident, Louci Reynolds says they have a sense of finding out about the end of autonomy through a text.

She says Canberra could have at least sent someone to explain it to the people.

"It wouldn't take that much would it? A bit of communication, a bit of PR skills for somebody to do that. I think the community would feel a lot more respected. It appears a very cowardly way to deliver some information. Now whether we have all the information, in how it has been delivered, I don't know."