Sunday, 24 April 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Norfolk Island rebellion!

Unlike the rest of the Australian electorate, it appears that Norfolk Islanders may have found a way to permanently opt out of the far-right political madness that infects this nation……

 Norfolk Island image from The Sydney Morning Herald

AAP Medianet, 23 April 2016:


Norfolk Island has become the first territory in the world to pin its hopes of self-government and a democratic future on crowdfunding.

The island in the south Pacific Ocean is seeking to raise $275,000 through to part-fund a petition to the United Nations to be accorded protective rights as a Non-Self-Governing Territory, allowing the islanders to determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Andre Nobbs, spokesperson for the Norfolk Island People for Democracy Limited (NIPD), said Norfolk was fighting back against a hostile, and illegal, takeover.

“Against the wishes of an overwhelming majority on-island, we are on the cusp of losing our culture, heritage and identity because the Australia government wants greater access to our Economic Exclusion Zone and natural resources,” Mr Nobbs said.

“Australian interests have already surveyed for oil and natural gas and we fear they’ll wreck our eco-system hunting for oil when it’s an outdated commodity. The world is moving on from fossil fuels. Australia should too.”

As a volunteer committee standing up to the 12th biggest economy in the world the NIPD values influential support and FundRazr was a perfect partner given its success with community-oriented causes.

Founded in 2010, FundRazr has helped raise more than $80 million from over 60,000 campaigns in dozens of countries around the world and CEO Daryl Hatton is determined to provide Norfolk Island with the support to meet its fundraising goals.

“We are excited to see Norfolk Island become the first territory in the world to use crowdfunding to help defend its sovereignty,” Mr Hatton said. “Crowdfunding is all about people working together to solve funding problems. In this case, it allows concerned citizens all around the world to support the people of Norfolk Island in their fight to defend their rights.”

Nobbs says the island has a message for the world: “Whether you’re a believer in democracy, a champion for the little guy, a crusader for justice or an advocate for a threatened environment, you have the chance to put your hand up for an issue that truly matters.

“Please go to and put your hand up to save our home.”

The genesis for the Hands Up campaign theme was last year’s community-led development of the Field Of Hands in Burnt Pine, a patch of grass containing a trove of green hands, each signed by a Norfolk Islander threatened by the Australian government’s actions in taking over control of the island. The theme has resonated on Norfolk, most recently at a community meeting on Monday night attended by more than 400+ people, just under a quarter of the total population.

Nobbs is confident the funds raised will allow NIPD to strengthen a compelling case to the United Nations to regain their democratic rights.

“We’re sorry we’ve had to ask the world for a hand, but the Australian government won’t engage with us, so we have been left with very few options. The exploitation has to stop.”

Mr Nobbs said the crowdfunding campaign would be divided into two parts - firstly, funds to assist the development and delivery of Norfolk Island’s petition to the United Nations to become a Non-Self-Governing Territory and, secondly, the evaluation and implementation of compelling legal action, if necessary, to return the island’s democratic rights. If the latter was not needed, a second campaign would be cancelled and any leftover funds would be put in trust to assist other small islands to fight for their indigenous rights.

“It’s criminal that we have been forced to fight for rights that are inalienably ours anyway, but if we can achieve our goal of freedom and inspire others in the process, it will have been a battle worth undertaking.”

For further information please contact:

Andre Nobbs, tel +6723 50273, email and Skype HandsUp4Norfolk

Websites - Please feel free to jump on our website for background information and archived material, including media releases and rights-free images:

Hands Up Website =

Twitter = @HandsUp4Norfolk

Facebook =

Norfolk Island People for Democracy Limited (NIPD) Website =

Geoffrey Robertson QC of Doughty Street Chambers, London, writing in The Guardian on 23 April 2016:

Where in the world is “God Save the Queen” a revolutionary call to arms? In Norfolk Island, whose 2,200 citizens – half of them descended from Fletcher Christian’s HMS Bounty mutineers and their Tahitian partners – are resisting the forcible recolonisation of their homeland by Australia.

Their self-governance has been abolished, their parliament locked up, their freedom of speech curtailed and their membership of international sporting and political bodies cancelled. Their autonomy and their identity are being destroyed – they have even been told to stop singing God Save the Queen and learn the words of Australia’s doggerel national anthem.

Norfolk deserves several footnotes in British history. Discovered by Captain Cook, in 1788 it became the place for convicts from Sydney to receive especially harsh punishment. Norfolk became the most brutal of HMG’s prisons, and the convict buildings and graves still stand, as part of a world heritage site.

After the convicts left, the empty island was deployed in 1856 by Queen Victoria’s government to settle the Bounty mutineer progeny – part British tar, part Tahitian – whose existence on Pitcairn has become precarious. All of them (194 men, women and children) were shipped to Norfolk, given land and allowed to settle down with their own laws and customs. Their descendants now comprise 47% of the island’s population……

It is a tourist idyll, with its trademark Norfolk pine trees framing two of the Pacific’s most beautiful beaches. It has a local language, unique flora and fauna, an indigenous culture, and is pleasantly free of Australia’s person-eating crocodiles, lethal spiders, snakes and jellyfish. It has, for the past 36 years, been effectively an autonomous territory, receiving some (not much) help from Australia but otherwise governing itself.

Such idiosyncratic arrangements, however much they satisfy local aspirations, were not welcomed by a committee of backbench Australian MPs, who decided that the island should be assimilated to free-market Australia, and its ethos of self-help and community service should be ended by direct rule from Canberra, 1,800km away. They issued a 120-page report recommending the recolonisation of Norfolk, making no mention of the advantages of democracy or the principles of self-determination. The government acted quickly to abolish the parliament and the elected executive, and to replace it with administrators from Canberra. The law that will end Norfolk Island as an autonomous territory takes full effect on 1 July 2016.

From then on, the island will have no special identity. Its people will not be allowed to compete in the Commonwealth or Oceanic games, where they have won medals, unless they do so in an Australian team. They will lose their seat at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union, and in some UN committees.

Already the heavy hand of the Australian public service has censored the local radio station, banning any mention of opposition to the takeover and removing a popular satirical programme. The islanders’ precious historical artefacts and records, of the Bounty and of their progress to self-government, have been seized from their parliament and locked away.

There is little the islanders can do against Australian annexation. The new secretary general of the Commonwealth has shown no interest in their plight. They cannot appeal to international courts (they are not a state). They have, however, decided to petition the UN special committee on decolonisation, which urges UN members to bring their non-self-governing territories towards democracy. In this case, it would be a matter of exhorting Australia to return to the islanders the powers that they are presently taking away. I will be presenting a petition of the Norfolk Islanders to the UN next week.

Recolonisation means Norfolk’s assimilation with New South Wales – the state whose laws will now govern the island, although its citizens will have no say in them. They can only vote in federal elections in Canberra, a large landlocked electorate 1,900km away where their concerns about fishing rights will not be an issue. They will, of course, be taxed, for the first time. The islanders have hitherto raised revenue by community levies, customs duties and tourist licences, and have refused to introduce any system of taxation. (They have not become a significant tax haven, because immigration has been strictly controlled and residents remain liable to tax in other countries where those earnings arise.) So the consequence of the new arrangement will be taxation without representation.

Abolishing Norfolk Island as an autonomous territory may not seem to matter much in the grand scheme of things, but for an international order that cherishes self-government and proclaims the right of self-determination of people it is a regressive and unimaginative action, an example of the inability to tolerate democracy and difference.

For the descendants of Fletcher Christian and his rebellion against the martinet Commander Bligh, it will be little consolation that their identity will be extinguished by a government commanded by one Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, named in honour of the controversial captain.


In March 2015, the Australian Government announced comprehensive reforms for Norfolk Island. The action was taken to address issues of sustainability which have arisen from the model of self-government requiring Norfolk Island to deliver local, state and federal functions since 1979.

Subsequently, in May 2015, the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act 2015 and related Acts came into effect. They provide for the Australian Government to assume responsibility for funding and delivering national and state level services and to establish an elected Norfolk Island Regional Council from 1 July 2016.

From 1 July 2016 mainland taxation, social security, immigration, biosecurity, customs and health arrangements, including Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, will extend to Norfolk Island.

On 18 March 2016, the Territories Legislation Amendment Act 2016 and the accompanying Passenger Movement Charge Amendment (Norfolk Island) Act 2016 passed the Parliament. The Act continues the extension of Commonwealth laws to Norfolk Island.

Notably, the Act will make enrolling to vote in federal elections compulsory, and provide for the representation of Norfolk Island electors in a single electorate in the Australian Capital Territory. The Act also provides for the phased introduction of the Fair Work Act 2009 and associated workplace relations legislation to Norfolk Island.

Liberal MP for Bradfield and Australian Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, Paul Fletcher, media release 24 February 2016   :

Most Commonwealth laws to extend to Norfolk Island

Legislation introduced into Parliament today will extend most Commonwealth laws to Norfolk Island, including the Fair Work Act 2009, and reform federal electoral arrangements for the territory.

“This Bill continues the Australian Government's commitment to reform Norfolk Island and provide its Australian citizens with the same rights and responsibilities as on the mainland,” Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, Paul Fletcher said.

From 1 July 2016, most Commonwealth laws will apply to Norfolk Island unless they have been specifically excluded.

“One of the key changes is that compulsory enrolment and voting in federal elections will apply to Australian citizens on Norfolk Island. Norfolk Islanders will vote in the division of Canberra and be represented by ACT Senators,” Mr Fletcher said.

“The Australian Government is committed to strengthening Norfolk Island's economy. Implementing the national workplace relations framework through the Fair Work Act 2009 is an important part of the reform process.

“Employers will be given time to adjust to the changes with the national minimum wage and Modern Award conditions being phased-in.”

The Australian Government will work closely with residents to inform them of the changes and assist with transitional arrangements.

The Bill will also correct inconsistencies in Commonwealth legislation by ensuring New Zealand citizens on Norfolk Island are able to access the social security system on the same terms as on the mainland, aligning the early claim period for child support and social security payments on Norfolk Island, and extending the child support framework to Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

No comments: