Norfolk Island a priority
05 April 2018
I am extremely pleased to be appointed as the new Federal Minister for Regional Development, Territories and Local Government, and I look forward to working in partnership with members of the Norfolk Island community.
As the representative of my own community of Toowoomba, in Queensland, I am passionate about supporting and representing Australians in regional communities. I am familiar with Norfolk Island’s long and proud history. I look forward to visiting the Island, and to meeting and working with the Norfolk Island Regional Council and local businesses. Having been an elected representative for my region over recent years, at the local council, state government and federal government levels, I am familiar with the breadth and depth of services that make a difference locally. Prior to entering politics, I had a family farming background, a fulfilling career in agribusiness, and operated a consulting practice working for regional Australian businesses and industries.
The continuation of the Norfolk Island reforms remain a high priority for the Australian Government. The aim is to provide services comparable to regional communities on mainland Australia and Australians in external territories. As your new Minister, I will build on the solid progress already made towards a sustainable future for Norfolk Island. I look forward to working with the Norfolk Island Regional Council and the Administrator to ensure the delivery of quality essential services and critical infrastructure for the Island.
Change is difficult for any local community. The hard work of the elected Norfolk Island Councillors and the dedicated administrative team has helped to transition Norfolk Island through complicated and significant change. This work is acknowledged and appreciated by the Australian Government. I am encouraged by what I read in the Norfolk Island Community Strategic Plan and am pleased to see the ongoing investment of resources towards making the key priorities for your community a reality.
The recent inclusion of Norfolk Island in the Regional Development Australia network will provide a significant opportunity to support growth in the Norfolk Island economy and encourage increased investment. The Regional Investment Officer, who will be based on Island in early 2018, will work closely with the local businesses and the Council to help create local jobs, attract business investment and grow the economy.
The upgrades to the Cascade Pier will be complete in early 2018, at which time the Pier management will transition to the Norfolk Island Regional Council. The Australian Government is also investing in passenger transfer vessels for Norfolk Island to further support the Island as a cruise ship destination. The arrival of the passenger transfer vessels, expected by mid 2019, will allow more opportunities for cruise ship passengers to disembark and tour the Island, further boosting the economy.
One of my priorities will be to continue work on improvements to existing child and family wellbeing services on Norfolk Island, to ensure the safety and support for children, young people and families.
A sustainable future for Norfolk Island is a shared responsibility and constructive contributions from the community are welcomed. The Administrator, Mr Eric Hutchinson, as the Australian Government representative on Norfolk Island, has been leading engagement with the community. Eric’s door is always open, and I encourage anyone interested in the reform process to contact his office.
From a personal perspective, I bring an appreciation of the challenges of transition to date, a commitment to the Australian Government’s priorities, a willingness to continue to engage with the Norfolk Island community, and some personal history in visiting the Island when my father, Tom McVeigh, was the Minister for Home Affairs and the Environment from 1982 to 1983.
My very best wishes therefore to the Norfolk Island community, and I look forward to participating in the journey ahead.