Norfolk Island Legislature abolished from tonight
Norfolk Island commemorates its autonomy with a final sitting of its legislative council.
The Norfolk Island legislative assembly has this morning held a final commemorative meeting as it is being dis-established by the Australian Government.
Last month, the Australian parliament abolished the island's autonomy, which has been in place since 1979.
The move scraps the island's assembly and government and removes its federal and state powers.
Canberra's plan is to replace the legislature with a regional council which some locals have derided as a waste collection agency.
The Australian government says there is a lot of support for the change but many on the island remain opposed, not least the outgoing chief minister, Lisle Snell, who told Don Wiseman today's event was a solemn occasion.
LISLE SNELL: The legal process will end the Norfolk Island legislative assembly at midnight tonight when the proclamation confirming the acts of parliament is passed, and that will effectively sign the death warrant for the Norfolk Island government and the Norfolk Island legislative assembly as of midnight tonight.
DON WISEMAN: You've just completed a commemorative sitting in the legislature and a very moving time I understand.
LS: It was very moving, the public gallery was full of supporters of democracy here on Norfolk Island and there were crowds outside our legislative assembly buildings here at Kingston in Norfolk Island, a beautiful day, and there were banners of protest at what has been a travesty and an attack on democracy that really, Don, civilised persons would have thought extremely unlikely in this modern, civilised world.
DW: Previously, you've talked about going to another stage. There have been murmurings of perhaps seeking some UN assistance. What are the people of Norfolk Island going to do now?
LS: The people of Norfolk Island are very emotional and they're very upset at the return to colonial rule here on Norfolk Island with an unelected advisory council and a dictatorship through the administrator appointed by the governor general but through Canberra, and a Canberra appointee.
DW: Well you are going to have a say, the same way as other Australians have, you can vote in the federal and state elections, can't you?
LS: No, not at the present time. That's in part of the transition and reform package that has been suggested to Norfolk Island. Up until July 2016 Norfolk Island will have no direct representation except in an unelected advisory council appointed by the assistant minister Briggs and the administrator. So Norfolk Island has returned to a colonial rule to the next 12 months at least. Hopefully it will develop into a regional council, that is the plan. The regional council will certainly be elected by the people of this island.
DW: So what will you do from this point, are there other options or not?
LS: The other options we are looking at is to seek the support of international bodies that would recognise that Norfolk Island has been treated very poorly in the removal of its democratic form of government on Norfolk Island and we will be seeking assistance from people like the United Nations and anyone else who can assist us in that regard.
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