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Inappropriate Behaviour by the General Manager

Friday, March 22, 2019

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

As outlined to you all in previous email correspondence from the Norfolk United Group, the level of inappropriate behaviour and unprofessional actions displayed by the General Manager, Norfolk Island Regional Council, Ms Lotta Jackson, today towards members of the Norfolk United Group raises questions of her Code of Conduct and her ability to maturely, intelligently and rationally work, consult and collaborate with the more diverse and self-regulated community groups on Norfolk Island.

Therefore, on behalf of Chamber members, I wish to request a meeting next week with each of you and the Chamber Committee to discuss the seriousness of the General Manager's behaviour and actions today; as no community group based on volunteers with local membership (residents) should be subjected to such blatant rudeness and disrespect.  

It would be appreciated if you would confirm a meeting date and time by return email as soon as possible.

Kind regards,

Cherri Buffett


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Airport Questions

Thursday, March 21, 2019


An interesting meeting last Monday evening convened by Norfolk United Group?

However, most attendees left with still too many questions yet to be adequately answered.

Among the many, there are some quite crucial questions in relation to the Airport Upgrade and Tender deserving of an immediate response, listed below.

NOTE:  These were some of the questions the NUG Group were to have raised with the Council General Manager and Bruce Taylor at a pre-arranged meeting on Thursday 21st.

Astonishingly, in an arrogant manner and spate of rudeness, the General Manager refused to admit us into her office, claiming the number of participants had exceeded her desired number!!

  1. Given the ‘difficulties’ in past years with both the dictates and advisings from the Dept of Aviation and CASA in respect of the Norfolk Island Airport -

To what extent has the Council engaged, if at all,  consultant expertise to assist them with the determining of ALL matters relative to the imminent Airport Runway re-surfacing Project, INCLUDING the assessment of, and advice in relation to,  the various Tenders, and advice in respect of potential cost over-runs?

  1. As Terence Grube commented during the NUG Meeting, the 2nd Runway is seldom used, and thus the obvious question arising,  is –

WHY was/is this 2nd runway re-surfacing being included in the current tender, when this runway (excluding the piece leading to the Terminal from the cross-over) is so under-utilised? 

It is a good argument for removing it from the tender, thus saving thousands of tonnes of crushed rock from the outset? Consideration, other than any urgent patching, could be deferred to a future time?

  1. The Council has been foisted the responsibility of paying any cost over-run with the Airport Runway re-surface, beyond those funds allocated. (A VERY unwise position to have signed off against, given the history of major project cost over-runs as being almost the ‘norm’).

WHY was the cost overrun responsibility so readily accepted, given the potential risk attached?

WHY then is the Mayor not the signatory to the Tender, given that it will be the Councillors who will be answerable to the local taxpayers should further (cost over-run) funds need to be raised from them? 

And please don’t tell us it is because operational matters are the exclusive purview of the Council Administration arm, when such a matter is of such vital importance!

  1. The Administrator recently returned from meetings in Canberra, among them a meeting that included discussion about the Airport Upgrade Project.

WAS the Council General Manager, the Mayor, or any other officer invited to be present at this important meeting, and if not, has this serious omission been raised with the Administrator and/or DIRDC ?

  1. In a Press Release in the “Islander” of16/3/19, the Administrator stated,

“No significant development application has been received from either the Council or a private entity to source rock specifically for the Airport resurfacing”.

At the NUG meeting, the Mayor advised that Minister Ley WAS aware of a Significant Development Application that INCLUDED reference to rock required for the Airport runway resurface.

In view of the importance, AND diminishing timeframe in relation to gaining the approval to mine rock from appropriate sites, who is correct?  IF the Mayor is correct (and we believe so), WILL there be a retraction or correction sought from the Administrator?

Perhaps we shall all be better informed if the answers appear in next Saturday’s “Online”?

Yours etc.,

Geoff B.


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Friday, March 15, 2019


Why has there NOT been an immediate & formal inquiry into the current shipping debacle?

Why have our elected Councillors not stepped forward to take charge of the serious situation Norfolk now finds itself in?

Who is taking responsibility for the massive losses befalling the shipping companies and local businesses, AND more importantly, the potential loss of a shipping service?

Who is ‘taking the lead’ in endeavouring to get the urgently needed cargo back to Norfolk?

And, who is to cover the heavy cost of losses and damage to, particularly, liquor and grocery consignments when this cargo is first discharged in Auckland; stored; and re-loaded onto another ship that becomes available?  History provides evidence of substantial loss & damage occurring on previous occasions when cargo ‘sails’ from Norfolk without being discharged!  (There is NO affordable insurance cover available for such losses!)

WHAT is the real story with the cranes?

How on earth did Norfolk get to the stage where neither of the two cranes became operational or serviceable?  This has never before occurred in most memories, at least NOT during the period Norfolk locals had control of such important equipment and service delivery!

Who had the ultimate responsibility, and what were the chain of events and considerations that led to the expensive crane-hire?   And, what was Plan B, if any??

Why was the advice of ‘locals’ not heeded? 

What actions were taken (or NOT taken) to get at least one of our cranes in a condition that would allow discharge at the very least at Kingston?

Why did it take so long to finally get discharge operations underway at Kingston when very favourable sea conditions had been present?

WHEN was the offer of the use of the Franna crane received, and why did it take so long to agree to and put the Franna to use?

Has our secretive and seemingly non-accountable NIRC “Operational Team” let the side down, and are they now attempting to sweep the matter (the issues) ‘under the carpet’?  

An apparent level of incompetency in the decision-making process is now having a seriously impact on many.

Poor decision making; procrastination; and failure (again!!) to listen to the advice of locals; appears to have all contributed to what now has evolved into somewhat of a crises.

If you think it was bad enough that the Operational Council decision-makers failed to ensure that there was at least one crane that was serviceable, think again.

That the offer of the use of the Franna was deferred, is extraordinary in itself.

Its delayed usage formed part of the reason why the “Southern Tiare” was not fully discharged. Whilst not ignoring the fact that the ship itself had defective lifting gear, had the discharge using the Franna occurred days  earlier, the option to use the ship’s booms to move cargo from the lower hold to the tween-deck, COULD HAVE been achieved before the weather again deteriorated, or so we are led to believe? 

Finally, who in fact is the ‘Officer-in-Charge’, the go-to person, the decision-maker in the setup – Commonwealth, NIRC, or whoever -  to whom one can raise issue with, and/or negotiate outcomes?   It has been said that it is like a revolving door, with the ‘buck’ being passed from one entity or person, to another?  No-one seems to have the ultimate responsibility for discharge operations, or prepared to take ANY responsibility??

The eventual outcome of this debacle will undoubtedly see increased Freight Rates and prices, being the only means available to amortise the hundreds of thousands of dollars that this ‘disaster’ will potentially cost! 

Regrettably, these will be cost increases that the people of Norfolk Island will bear from this point onwards.   Freight Rates DO NOT ever decrease!!

Let’s now have some truth, and some acceptance of both responsibility and liability!!!

COME ON COUNCILLORS – as our only elected representatives, we implore you to take ownership of the issue, and to drive both an immediate inquiry, AND the solutions, because, at this time of writing, we are told that the soonest cargo can be returned to Norfolk will be aboard the “Capitaine Wallis” but unlikely before mid-April!!!

Yours etc.,

Geoff B.

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A visitor’s observations

Thursday, March 14, 2019

I enjoyed my time on Norfolk and say thank you to each and every one of you for the rewarding experiences and memories that I was able to take with me.

There appears to be two types of visitors—The “Two days, and I am bored” type and the “Impressed and interested”. The latter is drawn into the unique culture, the strength and commitment of the Norfolk people to a way of life that has endured and developed through the centuries.

As a member of the “Impressed and interested” group it seems that the political reality of new management threatens the very culture and way of life for many residents.  There are many examples worldwide of cultures that have been destroyed by forced changes by “those” who claim to offer a better lifestyle and future.

Are there ways to ensure that the people of Norfolk do have a realistic say in their future? Too often the ordinary person feels that their thoughts and concerns have little input in developing the big picture. There are a myriad of minor factors that have created the Norfolk culture. Each one is an interrelated and important part of the cultural belief system.  The main issue is to be able to focus on changes that may impact on the culture that has been the basis for the accepted rules for the Norfolk Islanders (ie. No crime, A work ethic of sharing and caring, A policy to retain the Norfolk pines in the ground, Safe boat unloading practices, access to medical services, no poker machines,  Etc. Etc.).

Success may be achieved if the “rules” for the people of Norfolk Island identify what are the critical factors that must be retained to keep your unique and happy way of life.

 You, the people of Norfolk Island, are experiencing the greatest challenge that your Island has ever faced. A committed and unified voice of the people to present cogent arguments about “imposed” changes is an absolute must. A valid suggestion developed by the people is more likely to bring about successful change.

You have among you some of the smartest people on Earth who have ensured that you all enjoy a unique and very safe way of life. This is the greatest draw card you have for bringing tourists to your Norfolk.

Many thanks

Ray Troyahn

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Norfolk Island land Sales and the Ballot Box

Friday, March 08, 2019

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Norfolk Island Hospital

Friday, March 01, 2019

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Airport Overlay Upgrade - Vote of No Confidence

Friday, February 22, 2019

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Open letter to Madam Mayor,

Friday, February 22, 2019

At the public meeting last night you asked me to please show respect.

Most attendees were concerned about the threat to our fragile environment if rock is imported for the airport resealing. For Norfolk to supply the rock quota, a new quarry must be opened. We heard that the Commonwealth process to open a new quarry is long and could, in fact, take years. 

May I remind you that The House of  Representatives was scheduled to consider the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 on 12 May 2015. That Bill effectively abolished the Norfolk Island Parliament and replaced it with a Regional Council model. The Legislative Assembly was abolished on the 27 June 2015. If a democratically elected Parliament can be abolished by Australia in 31 days, then surely the opening of a quarry can be achieved relatively quickly. 

With the greatest respect, I say to you that you and your fellow Councillors were voted in to make decisions on behalf of the people of this community. There is an onus of responsibility on all Councillors to listen to this community's concerns and to act.

This community will hold you to account for the actions taken by Council, and we look forward to you showing the community the respect it deserves by doing as we wish and refusing to import rock when there is an alternative. Haste should not be the priority. It should be taking the time necessary to ensure the safety of this community and our island’s fragile biodiversity. And you, as Mayor, to act as your people wish, and use what is available on Norfolk Island, for the good of Norfolk Island and its people. Sustainable Norfolk. Are you doing so? Are you treating us with respect?

Gaye Evans 

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When will they ever learn?

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Norfolk Island had a good working relationship with the NSW Department of Education for well over 100 years. It took DIRDC and the Australian Government just two years to stuff it up. When will they ever learn?

Dunce of the Class

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Save our island from the import of rock!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Dear Sir,

Save our island from the import of rock!   Buy local is the NIRC endorsed slogan they need to definitely take note!

The government/council have known the airport upgrade was upcoming for at least the past 8 years and nothing was done despite many times it being raised as needing attention. Failure to act goes back to the Assembly and now the NIRC.

Now allowing imported rock is being considered by NIRC.

The Advantages:

  • Norfolk Island has large quantities of rock available and there are a stack of reports at NIRC, Kingston which confirm and quantify this.
  • The rock was good enough quality for the upgrade in 1982,1992 and 2006 so why not this time? What’s the excuse?  There is nothing wrong with it and we are sitting on piles of it.
  • Biosecurity concerns are nil – its Norfolk product!
  • Harvesting rock here provides jobs and work for the locals and job security.
  • Norfolk rock is of high quality. There are rumours floating round that our rock is not of high quality but this is incorrect. It has been stringently tested for each project. 

The Disadvantages:

  • To unload imported rock will involve the reinstatement of a groin at Ball Bay. It will need to be in longer and the maintenance and loss of resources are huge.
  • It will cost an extra $6 million to have imported rock used in the upgrade.
  • The $42/tonne Waste Management Levy which will be imposed adds up to $1.6million just for the rock.
  • Add to this the extra shipping costs and the expense goes up to over $7million. I am sure the Commonwealth would not like to see $ squandered so easily
  • At the job end; Norfolk would still not have a quarry or assured rock product for the roads and local needs into the future. That would mean that all future rock would need to be imported and let’s see the prices of skyrocket then for projects and community needs.
  • Biosecurity risks are huge and I’m sure no one wants new insects, spiders, snakes, fire ants, mosquitos for dengue fever or Ross River fever – this would impact on tourism to its detriment.
  • There is a much larger risk that is almost invisible to the naked eye and this is pathogens or diseases like physthophra or phylmus. These pathogens do not currently exist in Norfolk Island and pose a very high risk of disseminating our native flora and fauna as well as our fragile fruit & vegetable crops. Can you image our island devoid of Norfolk pines alone?

This requires grave consideration – it really has not been considered seriously…

In recent times Vanuatu had rock brought in there for an airport upgrade and it was rejected because it posed the risk of importing Foot and Mouth Disease.

Look up detail on Barrow Island – there was intensive environmental treatment controls used there for importation of material. None of those controls are even being considered in allowing imported rock here. The ensuing consequences will be catastrophic!

There has been some misinformation circulating about Norfolk’s capability to provide equipment and resources to major projects.

In any major project Norfolk Island businesses provide the bulk of the equipment and manpower and work as subcontractors. Only specialist equipment and operators are imported.

Our workforce is extremely resilient – we have worked to complete previous airport upgrade before under the guidance of the contractors. We have done other major projects – the Kingston Pier, Cascade Pier upgrades – top marks for our tradies for these!

We have this infrastructure on island to accommodate these jobs and to provide for local needs. We have paid freight, lighterage, import duty, rego, fuel levy and GST to the Administration/Council. We have had all this during the quiet times and have stepped up to provide product and services for the major projects and any other requirements.

Ironically we are lucky that there was a muck up on a previous major job on island that we are still able to source rock from the Stockpile near the school. This is nearly exhausted and it is imperative that a quarry is reinstated asap and the rock extraction commenced imminently.

The tenderers are happy to use local rock if approvals can be issued in time. The tenderers were told a day and a half after the last pre-tenderers meeting that they must use imported rock. What’s wrong with our council that this is even a consideration?

I suppose for the keen importer in the know if things get too tough and bugs and instects come in; all you will do is pack up your piggy bank, hiis up anchor and tata.

Lets hope some common sense prevails.

Yours etc


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