Australia dismisses reports of job losses on Norfolk Island
Norfolk Islanders opposed to the Australian take over on the island are disputing the administration's claims that there will be plenty of work when the new regional council is set.
Reports of job losses on Norfolk Island have been dismissed by the Australian administration there.
In six weeks Norfolk will be completely absorbed into New South Wales after Canberra a year ago stripped away the island's limited autonomy.
On July 1st a regional council, with few powers, replaces the island's government.
Many government workers have received notices advising them their jobs will no longer be required but the executive director, Peter Gesling, says there will be other jobs and it's likely there will be more positions than people come July 1st.
A spokesman for the People for Democracy, Andre Nobbs, told Don Wiseman he takes issue with this.
ANDRE NOBBS: What I would like to say is that those statements are true and there will be training and upskilling and no-one will be left out of a job. The harsh truth of the situation on Norfolk Island, since the changes imposed by the Australian government, is that a large number and at least a third of our public servants have been advised that there is a surplus to requirements or that their skill set doesn't fit with the new arrangements.
DON WISEMAN: To be fair they are surplus requirements within that job but there are potentially other positions.
AN: That might sound like it on the surface of what is being said but already members of the public service have applied for some of those positions that are purportedly available to them and I have yet to discuss with any of the public servants that have gone through that application process, that they have been successful. And unfortunately it makes it difficult for me to give you some examples which I do have at my fingertips, but Norfolk being a small island, those people will be easily identified and unfortunately there is a fair degree of pressure and coercion on those employees at the moment.
DW: Let's presume then that people have lost jobs, what other opportunities exist for them on Norfolk, any?
AN: There are very limited employment opportunities, particularly at the moment, because of, in effect, a downgrading of the economy over the last couple of years. And so for many of those people they will be considering whether they stay on Norfolk Island or whether they move away to support their families.
DW: In another matter, the MP for Canberra, for whom Norfolk Islanders may or may not be voting in the upcoming election - she is very strongly supportive of the actions being taken by the Australian government. She had said things like there are no facilities for women to give birth on the island. Is that the case?
AN: Oh look, we have got a 23 bed hospital with a maternity ward, and an elderly ward, and all of the physio and the pharmacy and pathology and whatever. However what you will find is that there has been a significant reduction in the funding available to the Norfolk Island hospital through our agreements with Australia, since 2011. And that's meant we have had subsistence budgeting. That subsistence budgeting has not encouraged doctors with the full suite of skills to be on the island, to be able to do anaesthesia and deliver the babies. It is certainly not an issue from our contest that the infrastructure has been taken away. The infrastructure is still there.
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