9 Mar 2020

Norfolk shipping woes: Supermarket loads 737 with goods in Auckland

2:27 pm on 9 March 2020

The owner of Norfolk Island's main supermarket has spent the past weekend in Auckland loading a Boeing 737 with goods needed for his shop's depleted shelves.

The shelves are almost empty at Foodland Supermarket due to shipping issues.

The shelves are almost empty at Foodland Supermarket due to shipping issues. Photo: Facebook / Betty Matthews

Many shelves in Geoff Bennett's Foodland Supermarket have been bare for weeks because of inadequate shipping services to the island.

Mr Bennett said those problems go back at least to 1995 when the Australian Parliament recommended a purpose built ship for trade to Norfolk Island be developed, but that never happened.

So, as a stop gap, Mr Bennett has been forced to fly in critical goods such as milk and butter, but he is not sure such a risky venture could be done again.

"We want to see how this pans out before we put our neck in the wringer again, but logic tells you that if you normally have 12 ships sailing to the island a year and we are down to just six scheduled, that we are going to have this sort of shortage all through the year."

Mr Bennett said too much bureaucracy, government inertia and red tape were to blame for the island's shipping woes.

The governments had been "sitting on their hands".

"I don't think they are quite sure what they are doing or who should be making the decisions but clearly, when a parliamentary committee makes a quite a strong set of recommendations and statements about the urgency and then 25 years we are still in the same situation, it's appalling. Somebody is not doing their job."