29 Jun 2016

Hardgrave claims Norfolk people keen on changes

1:21 pm on 29 June 2016

The Australian Government's administrator on Norfolk Island, Gary Hardgrave, is painting a positive picture as the removal of the island's autonomy is completed.

This Friday Norfolk will become a regional council under New South Wales with its Australian citizens given a federal vote in the Canberra electorate.

There was sustained opposition to the changes which began just over a year ago with the abolition of the island's parliament.

Many people were angry over the resulting lost jobs and business closures, prompting weeks' long tent protest.

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Photo: Norfolk government

The anger culminated in a push for Norfolk to be given non-self-governing status by the United Nations - a process that was now underway.

But Mr Hardgrave said his opponents were a noisy minority.

"People are very upbeat and very optimistic about where Norfolk Island's possibilities are now lying ahead of it," he said.

"The very big, heavy lift items, the cost of government doing business on the island is now being met completely by the Australian Government."

No worries about Norfolk business

Mr Hardgrave also dismissed reports of business decline on the island.

The president of the Norfolk Island Chamber of Commerce, John Brown, said many businesses on the main street had closed or were closing.

Mr Brown said most businesses would be adversely affected by the sweeping changes made by Canberra.

But Mr Hardgrave said new businesses are set to open.

"The main street has businesses coming and going and it is just a reality of life, but I know that there are new businesses that are opening and there are new traders, there are people expanding their business operations."

The Australian govt's administrator on Norfolk Island, Gary Hardgrave.

The Australian govt's administrator on Norfolk Island, Gary Hardgrave. Photo: Australian Govt

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