Norfolk group to seek UN help for self determination
A Norfolk Island group launches a process to win United Nations backing for its push for self determination.
A Norfolk Island group has launched a campaign today to seek United Nations support for its push for self determination for the island.
It coincides with an Australian Government appointed Advisory Council taking over the running the island after the Norfolk Legislature was abolished.
The group, Norfolk Island People for Democracy, includes the island's last four chief ministers, the president of the council of elders and other community leaders.
Andre Nobbs, who was chief minister from 2007 to 2010, told Don Wiseman that for years they have sought a collaborative relationship with Canberra but this has been ignored.
ANDRE NOBBS: With the removal of our parliament it has absolutely made it imperative that we now get a proper say a democratic process and representation in the mix. And just to give you an idea of the listing process this has occurred all around the globe for those non-self governing territories to enable them to evaluate what is the best most practical governance arrangement for them as a location. And each end of the spectrum is quite different there are three key areas for evaluation in that listing process from independent through free association to full integration. But what the process does enable is a full educational and informed process and most importantly a democratic process that involves the people in determining how their future will be operated in terms of governance and linkages to other countries.
DON WISEMAN: You are not talking about independence are you? Complete independence from Australia.
AN: No absolutely not talking about independence. We are talking about what we have been trying to collaboratively achieve with the Australian Government for many, many years since 1979. And that is a form of collaborative productive governance that brings a better outcome for Norfolk Island but also for Australia. Interestingly enough this has been a long process and during that process other entities, countries, have shown a real interest in linking with Norfolk Island in a free association model. Now that is in direct contrast to Australia which has really been telling the world that Norfolk is nothing more than a liability. There is a real value to Norfolk Island and there is a real value to the people of Norfolk Island.
DW: As you say Norfolk Island has been pushing for this collaborative arrangement with Canberra since 1979. Why do you think Australia has been going in the other direction? You have accused them of ingrained paternalism - I think they would say well they are just being pragmatic, that this is what needs to happen if Norfolk Island is going to survive economically and so on.
AN: Look, one of the things that has been probably gleefully omitted by the Australian reporting and the Australian representatives is that Norfolk has contributed a great deal to Australia since 1979 whether its through direct and indirect taxes or whether it is through the EEZ, the economic zone, 200 miles around Norfolk Islands. That is 60 to 70 million dollars at last recorded time, for revenue. Its gone to Australia not to Norfolk Island, year in year out. So there is a real value to Norfolk Island in terms of that territorial component and that seems to be what is at the heart of the Australian driven changes, the Australian government's driven changes. Because those changes broadly don't bring benefit to the broad Norfolk Island resident community.
DW: In terms of this quest by Norfolk Island for a collaborative relationship it has been very clearly demonstrated I guess this year there have been as Australia has been coming to this point that they reached in May and they removed legislative council. There were a lot of attempts from people on the island to reach a better understanding but they were completely ignored weren't they?
AN: They were and if we were to reel off just some of the ones that come to mind. We have had a formal referendum on the island that recognised that over 60 percent of people on the electoral roll which would be the majority, rejected Australia's proposal to remove self governance or to make governance changes without involving the people. We have had significant representation by the community to the joint standing committee and to the facilitation thereafter whereby that recommendation was to remove self governance. The majority at the public facilitation absolutely rejected that proposal to remove self government. If you look at the petitions that have gone to the House of Representatives and to the Senate in Australia over 700 names on each of those petitions. Keep in mind our electoral roll figure is about 965 people so you will see that for those people who have had the time and access to sign those petitions, it's significant. Petitions to the governor general to seek a better process and in particular to recognise that the appointment of the administrator on Norfolk Island is not meeting the best outcomes for communications from this community.
DW: The administrator Gary Hardgrave has effectively put the boot into those petitions, essentially saying they weren't legit.
AN: The referendum was absolutely legitimate, carried out under the Referendum Act and so not only carried out with regard to the legislation but also given a full audit at the conclusion of the process and that is irrefutable. Any of the petitions had signatures and information on each of those people that signed them so it is very hard to discredit names on petitions. So I would be inclined to say that there has been a driven effort by the administrator to attempt to mislead, by presenting denigrating remarks about the petitions, the referendum or facilitation programs.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: