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"Conundrum of Norfolk Island"

Friday, August 02, 2019


I write as Mayor of the Norfolk Island Regional Council in response to your article of 1 August 2019 re the opening address to Parliament on 1 August 2019 by Mr David Smith MP, Federal Member for Bean and elected representative for Norfolk Island.

David Smith MP has acknowledged the concerns of many in the Norfolk Island community which when resolved, will make for a stronger, more collaborative and more democratic approach to the governance of Norfolk Island.

By way of background -

The Australian Parliament unilaterally removed self-government from the Norfolk Island People in 2015 and in July 2016 replaced self-government with a local model of governance.  Norfolk Island is an external territory under the authority of the Commonwealth of Australia.  We are not part of any State or Territory.  The NSW Local Government Act 1993 has been applied to Norfolk Island in an amended form as Commonwealth law under Commonwealth statute. However, Norfolk Island people are not entitled to vote in NSW and are not eligible to receive grant funding from NSW as we are not part of NSW;  but has a New South Wales postcode; votes in the Federal seat of Bean in the ACT; and has an international phone code  the same as Antarctica.

The Norfolk Island Regional Council looks forward to continuing to work collaboratively with The Hon Nola Marino, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development and with Mr David Smith MP to achieve the best outcome going forward for the Norfolk Island community.

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Delay in Australia Post

Friday, July 26, 2019


Dear Editor

The Norfolk Island Chamber of Commerce, Inc Committee would like to hear from anyone on Norfolk Island that has had, and are still having issues with the delay in Australia Post mail delivery.

The Chamber did ask the Administrator for assistance but his reply is Chamber should contact Australia Post.

As it is the Australian Government that changed the postal system for Norfolk Island which then allowed Australia Post to be the mail provider, Chamber believes that it is the responsibility of the Australian Government to fix this problem of delay in mail delivery.

Chamber Committee


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Letter to Minister - Red Back spider crawling on the pier

Friday, July 12, 2019


PO Box 555

Norfolk Island 2899

Email: dkedward@norfolk.net.nf

The Hon. Sussan Ley MP

Minister for the Environment

Department of Environment and Energy

GPO Box 787
Canberra 
ACT 2601

11 July 2019

Dear Minister Ley,

Re: Urgent Biosecurity risk to Norfolk Island

I am writing to bring to your urgent attention the arrival yesterday, 10 July 2019 of red-back spiders onto Norfolk Island via freight onboard an unloading cargo ship. This species has never been seen before on Norfolk and the circumstances of their arrival point to disastrously inadequate and lax Bio-Security controls that will inevitably result in the unwanted arrival of other insects, spiders, snakes etc. onto our Island. Norfolk Island has been free of many of the pests that plague Australia however Bio Security’s poor controls are a direct threat to our pristine environment and endemic species such as the Green Parrot and Norfolk Island Pine.


We request your urgent intervention to call for a halt and complete review of current Bio-security procedures on Norfolk Island, particularly when freight arrives by sea and Bio Security’s response to discovery of infestations. Without this there is a real and distinct threat to our endemic and endangered species and island way of life.

Background information:


I know that you are very familiar with Norfolk Island from your role as our Minister in the previous Morrison Government. You would know that there has been considerable disquiet over the past three years due to the perceived inability of Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officers to protect our island’s pristine and fragile environment, especially with the opening up of fresh food and cut flower importations and lessening of requirements when importing certain pets, whilst paradoxically making it extremely difficult to import other animals and ruminants.

Over the past six months I have been part of a group of residents loosely named The Rock Group, who are opposed to the importation of rock and sand for our upcoming airport upgrade due to the real chance that spiders, snakes, insects and pathogens etc. will be brought to our Island in the rock and sand as well as hidden in the big equipment and machinery the contracted company will bring to the Island. This is based on our knowledge of infestations in other jurisdictions who have had much more rigorous EIS and EPBC processes applied than will ever occur here. Despite our protests imported rock will be used for the upgrade.


As you know the majority of the Island’s goods arrive by sea, creating an absolute necessity for Departmental officers to deal with quarantine and bio-security inspections before goods are brought ashore – that is, onboard the ship.  Under our own former Norfolk Island Government’s control and staffing this occurred and many times officers stopped infestations of insects and bugs by finding them during on-board inspections and banning transport of the infected cargo to the shore.


However since responsibility for quarantine passed from the former Norfolk Island Government to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, no on-board inspections have occurred as the Department considers it and OH&S risk for their officers to board the ship to undertake the work. That has meant that inspections occur after the arrival of infected goods on to the land.

Circumstances of Red Back Spider arrival July 10, 2019

 

As the Head Stevedore for Lighterage operations I am abreast of everything that occurs during the unloading of cargo ships. On board the ship yesterday were large equipment items that will be used to support the transportation of barges being built for cruise ship passenger unloading being a trailer and carriage. Both had been completely wrapped in plastic, except in the area where the hanging mechanism is placed to lift the item off the ship. While waiting for the trailer to be prepared for unloading, a stevedore noticed a cobweb in the unwrapped section of the trailer. I was called to inspect it together with the shipping agent PDL representative. On closer inspection it was seen that the trailer was covered to a large extent in cobwebs and Red Back spiders were sighted.


A call was immediately made to Bio Security officers on the shore, who being unable to come out to the ship to make the inspection themselves, sent one can of Mortein out and requested the webs be sprayed. The can was emptied onto the trailer and it was taken ashore. At the shore I spoke in a heated way with one officers about the complete inadequacy of sending out one can of spray to be applied by lighterage workers and that no inspection was made by experienced personnel prior to the trailer being brought to shore. She was at a loss to know how else to deal with the situation asking me “What else do you want me to do”?


On the shore Department officers emptied another spray can onto the trailer and called in a local pest controller who covered it in tarpaulin and fumigated the item, which he was still doing even as it was being driven up the road further onto the Island. At the end of the day officers sprayed the lighters, having allowed them to continue to operate bringing all other freight from the ship uninterrupted.


One of the lighterage workers found a Red Back spider crawling on the pier which he killed.   


The carriage had already been taken ashore and it is unknown by me if it was found to have a similar infestation. Additionally, all other freight on board the ship was not inspected until well onto the shore or unwrapped at locations right across the island. It will be astounding if the spider is not found to have successfully migrated to our Island.


I also bring to your attention that this is not the first time that bugs and insects have been detected by stevedores at the ship and Bio Security has responded by sending out a can of Mortein. I made a complaint last month about two cans being sent out to spray a pallet of onions with flies found inside the wrapping and which would have definitely been maggotted. I have had no response to my complaint.


In the near future over 35,000cubic metres of rock and sand and a quantity of heavy machinery and equipment will be imported onto Norfolk Island and Bio Security will not be able to make inspections prior to the physical arrival of the rock onto the land. Given the evidence of their response to discovery of infestations to date, there would be few on Norfolk Island who would consider that their capacity to capture any or every spider and bug that crawls out from under any rock would be zero.


I respectfully request your very urgent intervention by calling a stop to the inadequate Bio Security procedures undertaken on Norfolk Island where inspection of freight does not occur on cargo ships prior to their removal to land; and investigate the inadequacy of Bio Security’s response when contaminations are discovered.


As Minister for the Environment I know that you will do all that you can to protect our pristine and unique environment and Island.  I look forward to your earliest reply.


Sincerely

Duncan Edward


Cc           Terri Buttler MP Shadow Minister for the Environment  terri.buttler.mp@aph.gov.au

Cc           David Smith, Member for Bean david.smith @alp.org.au

Cc           Senator Richard Di Natale  senator.dinatale@aph.gov.au

Cc           Jon Stanhope Jon.d.stanhope@gmail.com

Cc           Geoff Simpson Geoffrey.Simpson29@gmail.com

Cc           The Norfolk Islander 

Cc           Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications  ec.sen@aph.gov.au

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Time to step up and protect awus hoem yoryle.

Friday, July 12, 2019


Dear Sir,


Many in our community will be aware that Red Back Spiders came ashore onto Norfolk Island during unloading of the ship this week. The following letter has been sent to the Minister for the Environment alerting her to what can only be seen as an impending disaster to our Island environment due to the inadequacy of Bio Security procedures and policies. 


This risk is only too real when Boral begin the import over 35,000 cubic metres of rock, sand, machinery and equipment for the runway upgrade. I urge all readers to write letters to politicians, media, environmental groups – anyone who will work to put a stop to the lax Bio Security on this Island and protect our Island environment. 


Time to step up and protect awus hoem yoryle.


Sincerely

Duncan Edward

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Standards of Care for Mental Health Services on Norfolk Island: Who Cares?

Friday, June 28, 2019


The Patient Safety and Clinical Quality Program applies to all affiliated health services including hospitals, community health services, and government statutory corporations administered by NSW Health. This program outlines what you might reasonably expect if you are admitted as a patient to any health facility anywhere in NSW. This includes:

  • the best possible care and appropriate treatment for your condition at all times, based on the latest evidence;
  • to be treated with respect and have easy and honest communication with the health professionals and clinicians who have the necessary clinical skills for the work that they do;
  • effective teams who support the clinicians and have access to the resources (including equipment and information) they need to do their work;
  • systems that are designed to prevent inadvertent or accidental harm to you while in hospital.

However, on Norfolk Island, despite our health services being managed and overseen by NSW Health, something went wrong as revealed by the recently released Auditor-General Report No.43 2018–19 (Design, Implementation and Monitoring of Reforms to Services on Norfolk Island).

As revealed, “arrangements established for the oversight of the Norfolk Island Health Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS) were inappropriate” (p. 9).

Put simply, according to the Auditor General’s Report, the NIHRACS was inappropriately established outside of the Australian Government accountability framework. Apparently, despite being set up as an entity controlled and funded by the Australian Government, NIHRACS is not “subject to requirements for the governance, reporting and accountability of Commonwealth entities as set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act)” (p. 11-12). The Auditor General’s Report concludes that “It is inappropriate for the NIHRACS not to be subject to the coherent system of governance and accountability established by the PGPA Act” (p. 12).

The report indicates that the Secretary of the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet and “a senior official” signed off on Service Delivery Schedules (SDSs) to “manage, deliver and regulate state-type health services for Norfolk Island” (p. 41), including providing an oversight role for the NIHRACS which was delegated to  South East Sydney Local Health District.

What this means apparently is that the Federal Minister for Health delegated to the Administrator of Norfolk Island and the NSW Department of Health through the Director-General to provide health management services as a “body corporate” and to assist the NIHRACS manager to oversee the implementation of general Australian Government policies. The report does not specific which policies.

However, it appears that reporting on financial performance only (as an Australian Government administered “investment”) is its only line of accountability. The report indicates that NIHRACS is not subject to corporate governance structures and processes that the PGPA Act mandates (p. 43). Most critically, for patient care and quality service delivery, the report states that “there were no performance measures or indicators identified in the Health SDS to monitor service performance” (p. 58).

So what does this mean for Norfolk Island patients receiving services from NIHRACS? And specifically for those receiving services for mental health concerns?

The NSW Mental Health Act 2007 establishes the legislative framework within which care and treatment can be provided for persons with a mental illness in NSW. This Act was amended in 2015. In 2016, the NSW Institute of Psychiatry released an updated Guide Book written to provide mental health practitioners with a clear and practical source of information about issues to be considered and procedures to be followed in providing support and advice to consumers and carers, and preparing for hearings before the Mental Health Review Tribunal.

This document includes minimum standards and protocols that provide a framework of checks and balances to ensure that the rights of people - regardless of mental illness or mental disorder – are protected and they have recourse to appeal decisions, treatment or any proposed interventions. This includes evidence-based protocols to assessing whether someone is mentally ill or mentally disordered after a minimum of three independent examinations. The Mental Health Act Guide Book (2007) can be found online at https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/resources/Publications/mhact-2017-guidebook.pdf

NIHRACS delivery of mental health services is still operating under the Norfolk Island Mental Health Act (1996) (personal communication). It remains unknown whether NIHRACS has adopted the NSW standards of care or service delivery guidelines, and what (if any) lines of accountability are in place to ensure that mentally ill or disordered people in our community receive the same standard of treatment as people in NSW (or other parts of Australia for that matter). This includes checks and balances (operational protocols) to guarantee procedural fairness including at the very least ensuring that all relevant evidence and aspects of the consumer’s case is made available for mental health reviews, which (in NSW) must be conducted by Psychiatrists, medical officers, or an “accredited person” (a suitably qualified and experienced mental health practitioner, such as a nurse, psychologist or social worker).


Dr Kate Lemerle, Psychologist

Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching, Norfolk Island

WEB: www.chrysaliswellnessservices.com

TEL: 52112 or email drkate@iinet.net.au

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Eliminate the "stranglehold" of the Pitcairn culture on Norfolk Island

Friday, June 07, 2019


First of all the Australian Government says it wants to eliminate the "stranglehold" of the Pitcairn culture on Norfolk Island. Now it seems they want to claim it as their own!!


The Australian Mint has issued a coin to commemorate the Mutiny on the Bounty as a significant event in Australian colonial history??? Perhaps they were just scratching around for a third story to complete their series, and decided to steal someone else's.  Coin collectors - you have been "had"!


The Mutiny involved a British ship, a British captain, a British crew, and occurred close to what we know as Tonga. From there the ship and crew returned to Tahiti and eventually settled on Pitcairn Island.


Meanwhile Bligh and those in the longboat made their way to Timor. Where on earth does Australia come into the picture?


The Mint justifies the use of the Bounty Mutiny by saying that Bligh later became Governor of NSW. But that was 17 years later!! In the meantime in 1797 Bligh was involved in another mutiny back in naval docks back in Britain. It was, in fact, close to where my family come from. They would be astonished to think that because of their association with Bligh they were part of Australia's history too.


What an embarrassing attempt to re-write history. And I have been told their historical advisor was a former director of the Norfolk Island Museums. Surely there should be more integrity and independence in the research process of the Australian Mint. What an insult to the people of Pitcairn/Bounty descent! And as for those Pitcairners who remain on Pitcairn Island or elsewhere in the world, people who have never had the slightest involvement with Australia or its government, they must be staggered to learn that they and their forbears have been given a new identity and background.


In recent times we have become used to the propaganda that Norfolk Island is part of the Australian story, but this one is really a stretch too far. I believe a respectful apology to all Bounty descendants is called for. Meanwhile, Australia's "colonial history" goes on to the present day, and we are very much victims of it.


Yours etc

Mary Christian-Bailey

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WHY WILL NORFOLK ISLAND REGIONAL COUNCIL NOT MAKE THE GHD REPORT 2017 AVAILABLE TO THE NORFOLK ISLAND COMMUNITY?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019



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The Preamble

Friday, May 10, 2019


Dear Editor,
I would like to share an email sent this week to the members of the Norfolk Island Regional Council and I suppose for the historical record. Thank you, Rick Kleiner.
***
8 May, 2019 Norfolk Island Regional Council


Dear Councillors,

Based on my dialogue with Asst. Minister Sussan Ley, I firmly believe where the Council left the matter of the Preamble to The Norfolk Island Act has rendered the reinstatement of even the essence of it in serious jeopardy. And only that Council which produced this situation can correct it, while it is still in office.

As you will recall, the significance of the Preamble resurfaced recently when it was revealed the Commonwealth deleted it in 2015 because it specifically recognised a people originally from Pitcairn Island living here. My first communication from Minister Ley on the subject of a replacement preamble was her email to me of 14 March, 2019, in which she states, “It is important for the whole of the community to be involved and look forward to seeing how the Norfolk Island Regional Council progresses this important work.” Subsequently, in an interview with the editor of the New South Wales newspaper, The Border Mail (4 April, 2019), in which she mentions me by name, she repeated her position: "I am now putting this idea forward to the local Norfolk Island Council, for them to then progress the drafting of a new introduction…". (Ms. Ley’s office has since informed me she is unavailable for further comment until after the upcoming Federal election.)

This emphasis on the locally-elected government resolving a politically charged issue can seem eminently fair and democratic until it’s realised it hinges on a related motion passed unanimously by the Council, all of you, two years ago. Coming in part on the heels of discovering the Australian Bureau of Statistics did not recognise Norfolk Islander as an ancestry in the 2016 Census, you attempted to reinstate the Preamble by first defining who is a Norfolk Islander and who are the Norfolk Island people. Then something went awry and you ended-up doing the Commonwealth’s work for them.

Taken from the Mayor’s “Keeping the Community Updated” article in The Norfolk Islander of 22 July, 2017: “Council requests the Mayor in consultation with the General Manager and the President of the Council of Elders to report back to Council by December 2017 how best Council can fulfil its advocacy role for the re-instatement of a Preamble to the Norfolk Island Act that addresses the concerns of the Norfolk Island people.” Buttressed by the cultural objectives of The Community Strategic Plan 2016-2026, which includes as an objective a diverse and inclusive community, the article continues: “In speaking to the motion I hope I made it clear that in using the term ‘Norfolk Island people’ I am also including people who, whilst they may not be descendants of the settlers from Pitcairn Island nevertheless they were born here or schooled here or who have lived here for the greater part of their lives or over several generations, all of whom call Norfolk Island their home.”

How can inclusion not be a worthy goal? Inclusion in a multi-cultural community is the only way to proceed or it results in second-class citizenry and continual resentment. But I notice in your motion “the” Preamble” is now “a” Preamble and the definition of the Norfolk Island people lacks
even the suggestion of a resident ethnic people. The wording might as well have been written by
the Commonwealth itself to replace what it had deleted. I’m certain this wasn’t your intention.

The process started then stalled. On 16 May, 2018, when noting the Council of Elders’objection to this circumstance, you voted to support the Mayor in further consultations with the community that “… allows for lodgement of submissions; recorded public hearings with available Councillors; and a community meeting”. So far as I know, none of this occurred and that is where the matter lies. However, although the initiative may be stalled, the problem is the motion still exists and will be the starting point whenever the Commonwealth wishes it to resume – without a reference to this place as a homeland. Unless the motion really does express your convictions, given the deliberate demographic change rapidly occurring in the electorate, the composition of the next Council or the one thereafter may well find it an opportune starting point to complete this rewrite.It was, after all, produced and approved by an elected body four-fifths of whom are themselves of Pitcairn Island descent. At that point, with I suspect the majority of you probably out of office, there will be no leverage with which to effectively argue otherwise. And history, at least on paper and soon enough in fact, will have changed.

I think it was Criticus in ancient times who observed that any attempt at assimilating Norfolk Island which didn't take into account the Pitcairn-ness of this place would be an ugly, prolonged and needlessly expensive fit. That sentiment needs to be fully resurrected for us all to move forward.Inclusion was never to come at the exclusion of a resident people and resolving that is the important unfinished work at hand. As it stands, the motion remains yours, passed before you or any of us were aware of the Commonwealth’s true objective regarding ethnicity on Norfolk. Please take ownership of this worrisome predicament and either correct it or withdraw the motion entirely while you still have the authority to do so.

Thank you,
Rick Kleiner

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Public notice from the Norfolk Island Chamber of Commerce, Inc

Friday, May 03, 2019


Dear Norfolk Island Residents

As some of you are not members of the Norfolk Island Chamber of Commerce, Inc Chamber is publishing the Terms of Reference for the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC)2019 Norfolk Island Inquiry.

Though the Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development, Infrastructure and Cities (DIRDC) has in place a community engagement strategy, there has not been proper and full community notice and consultation.

The Chamber of Commerce now requests of DIRDC and the CGC, full and effective consultation with those directly affected.

 

https://www.cgc.gov.au/sites/default/files/norfolk_island_inquiry_2019_-_terms_of_reference.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0itsblejwS1RAQWBohKAruCM57PC9UY0qFVBcUOPM0jAsTAXJrdtyMVEQ


CGC will:

(3)  Determine the capacity of Norfolk Island to raise revenue from a comparable range of taxes and charges levied by state and local governments.

(4)  Determine the costs of infrastructure that would be required for the provision of state-type government services, local government services and support for legacy state-type government business enterprises at the range and levels provided in the states, assuming Norfolk Island has the average per capita infrastructure at the beginning of the financial year.

Norfolk Island Chamber of Commerce, Inc


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Re: Norfolk Island Hospital – Operating Theatre

Friday, May 03, 2019



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