Norfolk Island visit to focus on sustainability and increasing preparedness for drought and extreme weather

I am greatly looking forward to my first visit to Norfolk Island, from 7-10 December, where I will meet with a wide range of community leaders and explore our shared priorities for a strong and sustainable future for the Island.

Ahead of this visit, I am pleased to announce projects and funding to build resilience to extreme weather on the Island.

This new investment in desalination projects, emergency shelters, and bushfire and emergency management will ensure that Norfolk Island is well prepared for weather emergencies.

The Government will work closely with the Norfolk Island Regional Council, stakeholders and the community as these important projects are progressed.

In recognising that extreme weather and water scarcity are major issues for those living on the Island, the Government will better prepare Norfolk Island for weather emergencies by committing:

  • Establishment of containerised desalination on Norfolk Island as a long term solution to recurring water scarcity;
    • Additionally, as an immediate solution for this summer, the Government will make portable desalination equipment available as a short term contingency to prevent a water emergency.
  • A $1.5 million investment in the site selection and design for an emergency shelter to protect the community during extreme weather events;
  • $80,000 to the development of a bushfire management plan to provide the community fire service with expert assistance, improve preparedness to contain a bush fire, and reduce community vulnerability to the potentially catastrophic impacts of a fire emergency;
  • $200,000 for an independent assessment of the local emergency management governance arrangements.

These important projects will better position Norfolk Island to proactively manage a range of potential emergency situations. 

Speaking from my own regional and agricultural background, I see water supply and drought preparedness as a priority. During my visit, I will also have the opportunity to see and be briefed on the important work being done in partnership with CSIRO on ground water.

Given the current and unprecedented levels of water stress that Norfolk Island is experiencing, containerised desalination is the most effective and efficient solution to supplement the water supply.

We want to ensure the community is well prepared for weather emergencies, with a $1.5 million investment in the site selection and design for an emergency shelter to protect the community during extreme weather events.

We also want this shelter to be suitable for use as a community facility. The Administrator will provide more information about how the community can contribute to the design and planning work in due course.

Another key focus of my visit will be biosecurity matters and I look forward to meeting with biosecurity stakeholders including bee conservationists along with the opportunity to discuss the Australian Government-funded livestock artificial reproduction project.

Following the first maiden voyage of the $3.9 million passenger transfer vessels and my announcement of an additional flight to Norfolk Island from Brisbane in peak season, I will engage with the tourism and business sectors on how the Government can continue to work with you to support sustainable growth in your tourism industry and broader economy.

I will also view community services and infrastructure which have benefited from the Building Better Regions Fund, including Banyan Park Play Centre and telecommunications.

I am very much looking forward to speaking with local residents directly, deepening my understanding of Norfolk Island’s current opportunities and challenges and providing information on key priorities and issues.

I welcome this upcoming opportunity to continue to work with the Norfolk Island community to make further progress on a positive and sustainable future for Norfolk Island.