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Wednesday 3 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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KINGSTON – Norfolk Island’s weekly newspaper The Norfolk Islander bristles weekly with letters of complaint over the Australian government’s conduct on the Island, writes Norfolk Islander Chris Hobbs on Facebook.

In June 2015 the Australian Commonwealth Parliament passed the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015 which, together with associated legal changes, has:

Stripped the island of its Legislative Assembly and the limited form of self-government it previously enjoyed;

Removed the right of Norfolk Islanders to make political decisions by referendum.

Removed mention of the Pitcairn Island (and the HMS “Bounty”) heritage from the preamble of the relevant Act (previously the Norfolk Island Act 1979).

Disenfranchised all non-Australians from voting in island elections.

Is opening up the island to unrestricted immigration.

The Australian government has embarked on a process of transitioning Norfolk Island to the status of a regional council modelled on those in the State of New South Wales, to be completed by July 1, 2016. This is against the wishes of the majority of Norfolk Islanders.

In the lead-up to the Minister’s visit, The Norfolk Islander contains several letters drawing attention to matters including:

The undemocratic nature of the so-called “Advisory Council” appointed by the now-disgraced former Minister, Jamie Briggs, to provide community input to the transition process.

The lack of information provision by the Australian Government and the consequent demoralisation of the community;

The damage to the island society from unrestricted immigration.

The conduct of the Norfolk Island Administrator himself.

The exorbitant cost of consultancy services in producing a health services plan for the island that has never appeared.

One writer complains that: “The most distressing aspect about Canberra’s ‘takeover’ of Norfolk Island has been the sheer Commonwealth bastardry in an extremely biased and corrupted political campaign.”

Another laments that: “It is a real shame – this place could have been a real gem in the crown, a show piece for the world.”

The organisation Norfolk Island People for Democracy is planning an appeal to the United Nations to request protective right as a Non-Self-Governing Territory.

- Facebook