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Norfolk Islanders down but not out

Friday 8 July 2016 | Published in Regional


NORFOLK ISLAND – It is one week into the controversial Australian administration of Norfolk Island but many of the locals say they will continue to press for the return of their autonomy.

Norfolk became a regional council under the state of New South Wales at the beginning of the month after its island-administered parliament was ended by Canberra a year ago.

Radio New Zealand’s Dateline Pacific asked one of the spearheads of the Norfolk Island People for Democracy group, former chief minister, Andre Nobbs, if the push for autonomy had ended.

“It’s absolutely not going to cease. We’re in the right and I should point out that it’s no longer just an issue of the Norfolk Island People for Democracy and their 700 plus on-island registered members.

It’s also the Council of Elders, and a range of all of the community groups who have signed documents of endorsement to not only pursue the United Nations petition for Norfolk to be listed as a non-self-governing territory but also to challenge some of the constitutional and legal steps that Australia has in effect breached in the process of changing Norfolk Island governance.

“And it’s worth pointing out that we have a Human Rights Council case that was commenced on the eighth of June this year and that is a case that identifies Australian government in breaches of the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights.

DATELINE PACIFIC: And you’re also going to the International Court of Justice?

“That’s correct and there are a few more strings to the bow than just that as well. We’ve also taken some steps politically both within the region and away from Norfolk Island and certainly the United Kingdom parliament has shown some major concern over the actions Australia imposed on Norfolk Island that really set a dangerous precedent for the other members of the Commonwealth.

“So we’ve made sure in launching our programmes through the various agencies to get a better outcome for Norfolk that each agency has given us a clear indication of whether we’ll be successful or not.

“And I can tell you that after having meetings at the highest level they’ve all said we will succeed.

“Whether we succeed through one or all of the mechanisms at once or whether it comes down to international embarrassment for the Australian government, we will succeed.

DATELINE PACIFIC: The essential element in all of this is your group, or your groups, are claiming that Norfolk Island is not part of Australia, and it’s not for Australia to decide.

“You’re absolutely right and look Australia’s own department, the Royal Australian Mint has provided documentation that they completely agree with us.

“Their document states very clearly that their research has evaluated that Norfolk Island was never annexed to Australia and so in real terms, Australia was merely the administering power – but Norfolk still fell under the British colonies.

“So there’s been an overstepping of legal and constitutional rights by Australia.

“That’s why so many other agencies are getting involved from the legal front, from the United Nations front, from the human rights perspective and the political perspective.