Norfolk Island petition for self-rule to be heard in Canberra
740 residents sign Norfolk Island petition for consultation against removal of self-governance on the island.
Two public petitions, signed by most of the adult residents on Norfolk Island, will be presented to the Australian House of Representatives and its Senate today.
The petitions, which call for more consultation on the future governance arrangements for the island, follow a recommendation from Canberra that 35 years of autonomy be repealed.
The federal government wants the island to have a local council type administration.
Norfolk's Chief Minister, Lisle Snell, is leading the delegation to Canberra, and says they are fighting to keep the right to self determination.
He spoke with Koroi Hawkins just before flying to Australia.
LISLE SNELL: The petitions request that the two houses of parliament before voting on any bills to change governance arrangements for Norfolk Island, established by the Norfolk Island act 1979 of the Commonwealth, that the residents of Norfolk Island have the right to be provided the facts and consulted at referendum or plebiscite and have a democratic say on the future model of governance for Norfolk Island before any proposed changes are voted on by the Australian Parliament. That's the basis of the, of the petitions.
KOROI HAWKINS: Right and they're both the same and as to numbers, how many people, what is the support that you are getting for this petition?
LS: Yeah, the petition at the moment is 749 for the, to the House of Representatives and 746 to the Australian Senate.
KH: Any final words on the importance of what you are going to do in Canberra and what it means for the future of Norfolk Island?
LS: It is extremely important for the people of Norfolk Island, to continue, have a democratic right in how they are governed. Governance issues the legislative issues of this island to provide both state and local government responsibilities. Certainly the Federal responsibilities that we have also been responsible for we are prepared to allow the Commonwealth to take over their responsible areas of Federal Policy on Norfolk Island. But we wish to continue as we have done for the last 35 years continued to manage our state and local responsibilities here on Norfolk Island as we have done since the Norfolk Island Act of 1979. And done well.
KH: Something that the Australian side have been saying is that children have been put into the petition as well. Is that true? And maybe some relevance as to why that's important?
LS: It is a custom here and in other Pacific Islands as well that we involve our children in most matters both politically and traditionally that's our reason that we allowed this to happen, but there's been controversy, there's been criticism so we have removed those children from that petition.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: