Norfolk Island business leader fears governance changes
Norfolk Island business leader fears the impact of Canberra's changes on businesses that are already struggling.
A business leader in Norfolk Island says the changes being made by Australia will have a devastating impact on the island.
Australia has removed Norfolk's limited self government and it is due to incorporate the island into New South Wales at the end of next month.
The head of the Norfolk chamber of commerce, John Brown, told Don Wiseman the business community wants Australia to put back the changes by at least a year.
JOHN BROWN: We have gone through a period from about 2000 onwards where we have seen our visitor numbers plummet. As a result, the economic product of the island has plummeted. Not only are there less visitors, but accomodation houses are competing with their discounting in order to try to maintain at least their existing share of a very much shrunken market. The changes that are being proposed to be introduced from the first of July this year include income tax, superannuation, fair work Australia rules, and progressively over a period of a few years the introduction of mainland minimum wages initially, but moving by 2018 to full Australian awards. There is real doubt as to whether the private sector on Norfolk Island will be able to survive that onslaught.
DON WISEMAN: So as a chamber, your request, or your hope, is that Australia would have a rethink?
JB: We are urging the Australian authorities to delay the implementation of their planned changes by at least a year so that within that period there can be proper consultation, there can be proper cost-benefit analyses, there can be proper economic planning so that people can see either that the changes will indeed be worthwhile or that they are disastrous and should be shelved immediately. At present, some people will support what the Australian authorities want to do, but something in the region of 70 percent have voted at referendum against it, and I expect that that percentage may have even grown a little. There is getting to be more and more opposition within our community to the plans of the Australian authorities, to the extent that there is a demonstration that's been going for some time now in the convict area at Kingston, which is our historical area, and those people don't look like moving soon.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: