Keeping the Norfolk Island community updated
29 November 2018
I would like to thank you for recently welcoming me to beautiful Norfolk Island.
I also wish to thank those of you who took the time to come and speak with me, and for expressing your concerns and aspirations.
During my stay I tried to be available to anyone wishing to speak with me. The issues that were raised are real and worthy of careful consideration by the Australian Government and the Norfolk Island people - working together.
A few of the many important issues brought to my attention included the need for a regular air freight service, a way forward on biosecurity, the new health facility and the airport reseal. I also heard about challenges keeping up with fast-paced changes. I heard about people’s desire for meaningful dialogue and consultation - the need to be kept informed about things that impact you.
Another consistent topic was a general sense of uncertainty, and the need for clarity about the governance arrangements going forward on the Island.
I heard people say they would like access to state-type grants. I also heard about business costs and the impact of land rates.
On my return to Canberra I have already begun looking at many of these issues, and others. Ruth Wall from my Department has been on the Island this week and, among other things, she has been examining practical short-term options to address biosecurity concerns.
I will keep you informed as these important issues are progressed.
The most important issue right now is the ongoing provision of state-type services for Norfolk Island.
A key message I heard during my visit is that you want to be actively involved in decisions about the type of services that are provided to your community. This is to ensure services are designed with your community needs and experience in mind.
On 20 November 2018 the NSW Premier advised the Prime Minister that NSW will continue to support the delivery of services for health and education to Norfolk Island under the current arrangements until 30 June 2021. This commitment provides certainty for the delivery of health and education services for a further two and half years, and signals that after this time new arrangements will be required.
We will be in a position to talk to the community about designing services and delivery arrangements in the New Year. During my visit, I was impressed by the resilience and skills of the local residents. This provides a unique opportunity to develop innovative services that utilise the Norfolk Island Regional Council and non-government organisations.
Throughout coming months I will consult with the Administrator, the Mayor and the community on how we achieve the best outcome for Norfolk Island in delivering for the future.