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Norfolk Island tracking Station

Friday, July 19, 2019

Norfolk Island (off the coast of NSW): Opened in 1969, this radio receiving station is manned by the US Air Force. Used to study 'ionspheric propagation in relation to long range radio paths' it is couched in such general terms it could be used for anything. 

It was constructed by private US contractors. The suitability of the site may lie in the fact that after World War II, a large buried copper radial aerial was left on the island. It is speculated that it monitors Chinese and Russian radio signals, and also acts as a relay station for US Navy ships in the area. 

The type of ionspheric research it is reputed to be doing was quite popular in the 1930's but is now considered to be old hat.

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Friday, July 19, 2019

With the SP Games well underway in Samoa, mention needs to be given to the OCEANIA ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS recently held in Townsville and particularly the performances of the two young Norfolk Island athletes who met the qualifying standards and travelled to compete at these Championships - TK Morgan and Nathaniel Kalsrap.

This Oceania Athletics Championship was the largest athletics competition held in the region this year with over 720 athletes from every Federation from Oceania competing. Some athletes hoping to gain qualification for the World Championships in Doha later this year, and some athletes just hoping to perform a PB and do their countries proud!...and that’s exactly what our two athletes did!

With an impressive list of current World and Olympic representatives spread amongst the large fields in both the track and field events, the competition was excellent and a real thrill for our two young athletes to compete at a competition of this standard, amongst athletes of this calibre.

This competition hosted Under 18 and Under 20 age grouped events in both track and field, which was more suited to our young qualifiers (TK 18yrs and Nathaniel 15ys) than the ‘open age group only’ competition offered at the South Pacific Games. As a result, Athletics Norfolk Island chose this competition over the SPG for these young athletes to cut their teeth at international competition.  

TK competed first in the U20’s 100m sprint clocking a time of 12:20sec. TK started well and ran a solid race but relaxed through the finish, resulting in the 12:20 recorded time. His race better than the 12:20 time suggests.

Nathaniel raced next in U18’s 100m with a blistering time of 11:84, narrowly missing the final by .30sec. For a 15yr old, this time shows potential.  

TK then moved to the field events, sending the 800g Javelin 43.94m to record a PB on the 3rd throw of his series. Again, showing great potential as an 18yr old throwing an 800gram implement.

A good effort for his first international competition on a synthetic surface.

Nathaniel was back on the track next for the U18 200m with a strong swinging cross wind, however only recording a head wind of -0.6 at the time his heat. Nathaniel clocked a reasonable 24.18sec needing 23.68 to qualify for the final.

With the performances exhibited by these two young athletes, they’ve both shown real potential for quality future performances with the aide of some good coaching.

Be proud of these two young kids Norfolk. They did Norfolk proud both on and off the track.

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Norfolk Island Health and Wellbeing Expo 2019

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Norfolk Island falls into the catchment of Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN). After a needs assessment conducted in 2016, funding was provided for a full-time Health and Wellbeing Coordinator who commenced in March 2018.

A one year Norfolk Island Health Promotion Plan was implemented over 2018 to early 2019 and following the approval of a further three years funding, the current Norfolk Island Community Health Promotion Plan covers April 2019 – April 2021. This plan can be found on the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS) website (

One of the highlights of the previous and current plans is the annual Health and Wellbeing Expo. The second event was held on Saturday July 13. The Expo aimed to showcase local and mainland Australia health and wellbeing services and programs. The Expo was held at Rawson Hall and consisted of over 30 exhibitors, five presentations on a diverse range of topics and there was a range of tasty and healthy food and drink options available.

Several service providers travelled to Norfolk especially for the Expo, including Feros Care, the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA), South East Sydney Local Health District (SESLHD), Autism Spectrum Australia (ASPECT), Life without Barriers and CESPHN. They joined local service providers and agencies, both for profit and not for profit, to provide the community with a comprehensive selection of information and health improvement opportunities.

Manager of NIHRACS, Kath Boman and Mayor Robin Adams provided the official opening and Administrator, Eric Hutchinson was master of ceremonies for the presentations.

The presentations covered topics including diabetes, spinal health, mental fitness, growing your own vegetables and ensuring the safety and quality of water, a very important topic in the local community.

As an added bonus there were several lucky door prizes available, courtesy of a generous donation to support the Expo. Congratulations to all the lucky winners.

Although a head count wasn’t kept due to there being several entrance points, it was estimated that well over 200 people attended the event. A formal evaluation summary will be provided as part of the reporting activities for the NI Community Health Promotion Plan. Anectdotally the reports from those who attended and many of the exhibitors has been overwhelmingly positive with a positive “vibe” being reported by many people.

The Expo is a great example of the community coming together, both to pull together to organise the logistics and then to open up to the whole community to come along and talk, listen and learn from each other.

There are so many individuals, organisations, community groups, businesses and service providers to thank that the list would be longer than the space available, so a big thank you yorlye to everyone involved and let’s look forward to an even bigger and better Expo next year

Karen Innes-Walker

Health and wellbeing Coordinator

15 July 2019

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Rock Update - 12 July 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Well, we all know we have lost the fight as far as local jobs and local rock are concerned. It’s no secret that Boral will be using minimal local labour and they are bringing in imported rock, as well as their own equipment.

However, the fight for the protection of our environment is far from over!

According to experts, the processes and treatments of these imported products is required to be open and transparent. My interpretation of this statement is that we, the community, should be aware of all procedures be put in place to safeguard our environment.

We may be considered a part of Australia for political reasons, but on an environmental level, we are radically different. We don’t have snakes, cane toads, midgies, fire ants and various other toxic vermin over here. Some of the noxious weeds readily available in Australia are not present here. The differences in our ecosystem, environment and climate are too numerous to mention. We must remember a harmless weed in some areas of the world can have a devastating affect in others.

Our island has remained free of these potentially dangerous weeds, pests and pathogens. We have monitored what has come into the island and been aware of any potential effects on our environment. It is no accident that Norfolk Island has been looked after so well. I am not saying we had a perfect score, but we certainly did a better job than the present system.

Whenever I came home, I loved to sit on the grass…not a major achievement for those who have lived here all your lives, but this was one of the few times I was able to enjoy this simple pleasure. In Australia, there various types of ants and spiders that live in the grass, and man, can they bite!

The other day I was moving old palm fronds. I wouldn’t be doing this if we had snakes here. Even cleaning a pool filter or pond, you need to be on the lookout for snakes. I don’t miss that at all, just sayen.

We take it for granted that we are safe when we work in the garden, run in long grass or roll down a hill. This will all change dramatically if the imported rock, sand and even equipment isn’t treated correctly before it leaves Australia, and especially, BEFORE it lands here. Although there are no guarantees it will eliminate all hitchhikers; ensuring the correct and proper systems are in place is better than having none at all.

When the Rock Group first met with the administrator about the possible importation of rock, he told us he could not help us if we used the environment as our main focus. He advised that for every problem we brought up, a management plan would be created through biosecurity services.

If this is the case, then perhaps we should be pushing for a management plan for each and every potential biosecurity issue. Perhaps we also need to insist we have a quarantine process in place for everything Boral intends to bring here, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have one in place for ships offloading our freight either.

We have been playing Russian roulette with our environment/biosecurity for long enough. If we just believe and accept that Boral is going to do ‘the right thing’ for Norfolk Island, and we do nothing, ask nothing and expect nothing, we will most likely end up with everything!

We only have one shot at this. Come September or thereabouts, it will be too late. It only takes one pregnant toad; one pregnant paralysis tick; one pregnant red backed spider to produce thousands more.

I know this sounds like I am scaremongering, but in all honesty, you should be scared, and you should be worried. Boral will come here and do their job, which is what they are contracted to do, and then they will leave. We will be the ones who live with the consequences. I haven’t heard about any funds that will be allocated to assist with the clean up/eradication of any ‘unwelcome guests’ as a result of the airport upgrade. So, who do you think will be paying for this? That’s right, us!

As a community we need to know what practises and procedures will be put in place to protect our island home.

The big question is, what are you going to do to protect our environment and lifestyle? The Rock Group has been doing all it can, but we all need pull together to look out for our island, the time for sitting back and hoping for the best is long gone!


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Anglicare is celebrating its third year serving Norfolk Island!

Friday, July 05, 2019

We have recently purchased new books for our Street Library and have just received new equipment for our playgroups.

The Anglicare Children’s Library is now open for borrowing! Books can be borrowed from:

  • Our office at 102A Taylors Road 9am – 4pm most days
  • Our funky street Library box outside the office - 24 hours

Please look after our books and return the ones you have read for a new one.  We have a range of books aimed at children from birth through to toddlers, including a range of novels for primary school. Our love for a book usually relates to the person who read that story to us - a parent, grand-parent or special person in our life. Reading to and with children, is one of the best gifts you can give them. More than just the emotional connection, reading aloud to children is considered the single most important activity to build the skills to learn to read.

We are excited to have more equipment for our playgroups including giant puzzles, giant fishing sets, painting easels. For our Thursday Mothers Group, we have added baby gyms.

Anglicare has welcomed new staff in 2019, introducing Sarah Robinson who is part of the driving force of our new Nature Playgroup titled ‘In A’ Stik’. Sarah has a Bachelor in Early Childhood and Primary Education. Sarah has over 15 years’ experience as a classroom teacher, as well as educating in preschool, child care & vocational care. Sarah is a passionate advocate of child-centred, play-based, creative learning. Sarah is inspired by the curriculums of Rudolf Steiner, the Netherlands & Finland and is passionate about outdoor education; connecting children with their natural environment, wholesome play & the world around them.

Trish Smith has joined the Anglicare team and is studying a Diploma in Early Childhood Education & Care. Trish has organised and ran volunteer Mothers groups which evolved into playgroups exploring various locations on Norfolk Island.

Combining Sarah and Trish’s passion in getting outdoors, there are plans for a Nature Playgroup for 0 – 5 years old’s. Look out for the information session on our brand new Nature Playgroup launching in just 2 weeks.

Mothers Group is still on during the school holidays, pop in for good coffee, meet other mums in the Anglicare Lounge Room at 102A Taylors Road. Contact 22232 for more information.

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Friday, July 05, 2019

Today Friday 5 July 2019 we join hands across the ocean with our family and friends on the Isle of Man who are celebrating their National Day – Tynwald Day. The Isle of Man flag will fly proudly today on Norfolk

The historical ties between Norfolk Island and the Isle of Man were set in motion with the marriage on 4 February 1781 of William Bligh to Elizabeth “Betsy” Betham whose family lived on the Isle of Man; and while history tells us that Fletcher Christian was born in England, his ancestors came from the Isle of Man where the Christian family had been prominent for probably a thousand years.

The story of the mutiny on the Bounty in 1789 is a tale of conspiracy, adventure and romance, a tale that today links the Isle of Man and Norfolk Island. Hollywood has produced at least three movies with high-profile actors taking on the roles of Captain William Bligh, lead mutineer Master’s Mate Fletcher Christian and Midshipman Peter Heywood from the Isle of Man.

This historical relationship led to the signing of a Cultural Agreement between the Isle of Man and Norfolk Island on 5 July 2011; a cultural accord that provides a platform for our two communities to share information on heritage, governance, business and culture, including music and dance.

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ANAO Audit of DIRDC on Norfolk Island – Is Scepticism Justified? (Part 1)

Friday, June 28, 2019

As a result of the Norfolk Island Legislation Amendment Act of 2015, the Australian Government on 1 July 2016 abolished self-government on Norfolk Island and replaced it with governmental arrangements based on a NSW regional council model, and with substantially reduced powers. The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has now carried out a performance audit to "assess whether the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities has designed and implemented appropriate governance and administration arrangements for the transition and delivery of sustainable reforms to services on Norfolk Island": the Department (DIRDC) being the Commonwealth department with overall responsibility for Norfolk Island through its Territories Branch. The completed ANAO Audit Report was tabled in the Australian Parliament on 31 May 2019. (1)

The Audit Report gives, for the first time and in public, a clear description of the Commonwealth governmental processes undertaken in the implementation of the Act of 2015, including processes involving the transitional administration. Such a description had not previously been available, so for this publication we must be grateful. However many on Norfolk Island, who have been waiting a long time for a fair and transparent account of DIRDC's conduct on the island in recent times are sceptical about the content and conclusions of the Report. Should they be? Well, "No", and "Yes". Here's why.

The ANAO is the national auditor for the Parliament of Australia and the Government of Australia, and reports directly to the Australian Parliament. The ANAO is located in the Prime Minister and Cabinet portfolio, and ANAO employees are Commonwealth public servants, as are employees of DIRDC. So that despite the independence of the ANAO process, we have one group of public servants reporting on the competence of another group of public servants.

The intra-governmental nature of the Audit Report is easy to see as almost without exception the 113 footnotes in the Report are either explanatory notes on the ANAO's own behalf, or Commonwealth/government-initiated communications, letters, and reports, or those of their consultants and appointees. The former Norfolk Island Government provides source for one footnote, as does the Norfolk Island Regional Council. There is a view that we should not be too concerned with this circumstance – after all the audit is primarily concerned with assessing one Commonwealth agency's performance. However we do need to be aware of the audit's characteristics and limitations.

Public service protocols ensure that public reports by public servants will be in sober tones, with no use of rude, abrasive or emotional language as one might find in say, some independent journalism. So one will not find such crude and direct statements like "DIRDC failed to accomplish what it was responsible for", but rather something like "DIRDC was partially successful in its mission". The over-riding characteristics of public service reports are circumspection and euphemism. There are also other subtle forces working to ensure that such reports resemble blancmange rather than curry. For example public servants tend not to want to rock the boat too much as that might embarrass a minister or two, and could damage their (the public servants') immediate career prospects. Anyone who has watched episodes of the British political sitcom Yes Minister will not find such a circumstance surprising. Some readers of the ANAO Report may well find themselves impatient with this anodyne fare.

Here is a key observation from the Report's conclusions:

The department's advice to the Australian Government presented a range of reform options, which was based on an assessment of Norfolk Island's self-governance arrangements and input from a community consultation process. Elements of the reform design relating to state and local government services could have benefitted from more detailed analysis. (p. 8)

We will consider what the ANAO thought of the "self-governance arrangements" and the "community consultation process" in more detail below, but the final sentence here conveys the blandness within which the Report's conclusions are couched. Here are some further examples:

Roles and responsibilities for the implementation of the reforms were clearly outlined, but the department's prioritisation plans lacked appropriate detail.(p. 8)

Arrangements established for the oversight of the Norfolk Island Health Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS) were inappropriate. (p. 9)

That's about as fiery as the Report gets. Whether these and other criticisms in the Report amount to a caning of DIRDC or merely a flogging with a feather duster, is difficult for someone outside the system to tell. But criticisms of DIRDC there are in the ANAO Report, even if self-effacingly expressed.

One major concern with this intra-governmental audit process – at least in the present example – is an acceptance of the governmental view of events, with alternatives or criticisms squeezed out or disregarded completely. (In this regard we have already mentioned the matter of text references.) Here are some other examples.

In relation to the econometric studies carried out by CiE on the Norfolk Island economy in 2014, the ANAO Report states:

A November 2014 report commissioned by the department provided modelling of the economic impact of extending Commonwealth taxation, social security, superannuation and the minimum wage to Norfolk Island. The modelling showed that if Commonwealth arrangements were implemented, the expected ‘higher level of economic activity, increased employment and wages combine to see (nominal) household consumption each year being some $20 million higher than otherwise.’ (p. 24)

This is a deceptive statement because it accepts the conclusion of a DIRDC-sponsored study which was heavily and comprehensively criticised at the time by an independent econometric modelling expert Professor Michael Common, formerly of the Australian National University and at that time at Strathclyde University in the UK. And furthermore there was no mention in the Report of an earlier and similar econometric study by CiE, suppressed by the Commonwealth, which reached a very different conclusion. (2)

Again, in relation to the "community consultation process" carried out on the island in the lead-up to the implementation of the 2015 Act, the ANAO Report states:  

In his report to the Minister on the consultation process, the Administrator stated that ‘there is now widespread general agreement with the JSC recommendations.’ The Administrator’s report, which formed part of the submission to the Australian Government, included dissenting views and commentary from the public meeting for the Australian Government’s consideration. (p. 27)

This merely accepts the Administrator's view of the process, which was against the totality of evidence in the public domain, to the contrary. The Administrator's view was widely discussed and challenged at the time, but never defended. (4) The Audit Report appears to have declined to investigate the truth or falsity of this matter, of which it was well aware (5), choosing rather to ignore the matter completely.

Again in terms of the "community consultation process", the fact that over years DIRDC systematically declined to respond to queries put to them by members of the Norfolk Island public, did not even rate a mention in the Report as relevant to DIRDC's performance.

Well, in responding to these claims of ignore, one view would be that, of necessity, ANAO must of take a circumscribed view of the area it will consider. But there is a problem: Where does that leave the audit assessment when it is made on only a part of the evidence? The fact that "modelling of the economic impact" and a "community consultation process" were carried out by DIRDC is in practice meaningless: what is relevant is the content of those exercises. The constriction of the area of interest that the ANAO was prepared to entertain in its audit, and the steering away from controversy, are problematic because ANAO evidently wants to appeal in its assessment to broad merit but then takes a very limited view of the information it is prepared to accept. The Report provides no indication as to what the legitimate bounds of its exercise are, and without it the Report must be taken as compromised and deceptive.

This article will continue next week when some more general matters will be considered.

Chris Nobbs

(1) ANAO, 2019. The design, implementation and monitoring of services reform on Norfolk Island, Auditor-General Report No. 43, 2018-19, 31 May.

(2)  Common, M., 2015. A Comparison of Two CIE Reports (2006, 2014) on the Economic Impact of

Norfolk Island Reform Scenarios. Also: Nobbs, C., 2015. Norfolk Island Reform Scenarios - Comparing the two CIE reports (2006 and 2014), The Norfolk Islander and Norfolk Online News, 28 November; reproduced in (3).

(3) Nobbs, C, 2017. Australia's Assault on Norfolk Island 2015-16: Despatches from the Front Line, Amazon, pp. 30-33.

(4) For example: Nobbs, C., 2016. Was there ever a majority of Norfolk Islanders in favour of the removal of self-government? The Norfolk Islander and Norfolk Online News, 13 February. Reproduced in (3), pp. 60-66.

(5) Nobbs, C., 2019. Submission to ANAO Performance Audit of DIRDC, 11 November.

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2019 Bounty Bowls

Friday, May 10, 2019

The weather gods were extremely generous to the bowlers this week for the Christian-Bailey Agencies sponsored Bounty Bowls with fine weather throughout the week, with temperatures in the low 20s. Excellent bowling weather and it certainly was on display with the standard of bowls displayed by all teams in the tournament. 34 teams fronted the starters gun on Sunday 5th May for the 1st round for the week, with 22 teams from overseas from all places, Caboolture Lakes, Lowood, Sarina, Brothers Bundaberg, Moore Park Beach, New Farm, Mt Gravatt, Wagga Wagga, Coraki, Musgrave Hill, Northern Beaches Mackay, Nambour, Woombye, Palmwoods plus 4 teams from Western Australia, these 22 teams were up against the 12 teams of local talent and play proceeded through the week until Thursday afternoon, where the 8 teams who qualified for the quarter-finals were decided.  Due to the very generous sponsorship of Kim & Charles from Christian-Bailey Agencies a total of $13,800 dollars was available for the teams who qualified.

The qualifiers were: in Section A, the team from Norfolk Island, skipped by Gary Ryan (and last years winners) together with Dave Smith, Stephen Mathews & Tess Evans qualified 1st with 6 wins +68, in 2nd place was a composite team skipped by Martin Rogers, together with his father A. Rogers, J. Willies and Brent Johnstone with 6 wins +38.

In Section B, the team from Sarina skipped by Wade Cranston together with Brian Adams, Ian Gardner & Trevor Bird topped the section with 7 wins +42, and in 2nd place was the local team of Phil Jones, Ester Sanchez, Barry Wilson & Petal Jones with 6 wins +65  .

In Section C: the team from Norfolk Island skipped by Alan Marshall, Gary Bigg, Graeme Woolley & Jacki Marshall qualified in first place with 6 wins +56, and in 2nd place was again another local team skipped by Moochie Christian, together with Shae Wilson, Culla Graham & Vivian Bigg with 6 wins +45.

In Section D the local team of Mick Godfrey, S. larking, Wes Cooper & S. Cohen placed first with 7 wins +77, and in 2nd spot was the team skipped by Pete Walkinshaw, Jeff Pledger, Spider Webb & Trevor Gow with 6 wins +60.

The quarter-finals are scheduled for Thursday afternoon, with the semi-finals and the final on Friday with the following match-ups decided.

The quarter-final match ups were: Gary Ryan’s team Vs P. Walkinshaw’s team. Culla Graham’s team Vs Wade Cranston’s team, Alan Marshall’s team Vs Phil Jones team, and Martin Rogers team Vs Mick Godfrey’s team.

The write up for the finals and the presentation will be provided in next week’s paper.

The Bowling Club would like to thank all of our generous sponsors in Kim & Charles of Christian-Bailey Agencies, Foodland’s Supermarkets and Cookie for the 2 Drips water.

A great week was had by all and the Club Manager would like to thank his band of helpers throughout the week and he is looking forward to putting up his feet for a couple of days.

Don’t forget that the Club is open 7 days per week for both lunch and dinner, plus the coldest beer in town.

See you on the greens soon.

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Blainville’s Beaked Whale Norfolk Island 2016

Friday, April 26, 2019

Three years ago, on the 26th April 2016, a Blainville’s Beaked Whale was stranded on the reef at Slaughter Bay, Kingston.  During the late afternoon, I will always remember the community effort to attempt to rescue the exhausted whale, but it was too injured to survive, and later died.  The poor thing was very battered, bruised and cut up as the waves bashed it into the coral reef on the shoreline.

On that Autumn afternoon, I spent three hours until after dark down the beach photographing the whale so there would be scientific records of the small whale.  It was later identified as a Blainville's Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon densirostris), also called the dense beaked whale.

On the day the beaked whale died, a biopsy tissue sample was taken and during the past few years the hope to get the sample to Sydney where there has been an offer to test the tissue and confirm the whales species.  It has proved very difficult with Australian biosecurity laws to transport the frozen tissue sample to Australia.  Maybe one day it may be possible but until then, it will remain frozen in Norfolk Island.

Wojtek Bachara, a whale researcher from Poland, contacted me in 2016 and together we gathered information and he then put together a scientific paper including my photographs.  It is interesting reading the research he has completed, and there are several sightings around Norfolk Island which he has documented in the report including the Gilbert Jackson sightings with video footage.  Plus, the picture on cover of Ian Kenny’s book “Whales, Boats & Fish”.  He also included information from other passing boats data records.  It is very exciting to now have my photographs published in my first scientific paper.


This week I have looked back at the photographs I took three years ago, on that sad afternoon.  My biggest thought, as I looked through the photos, was the sense of community.  What an amazing place we live in on Norfolk Island.  I looked at the young teenagers out helping the whale, then how quickly everyone pulled their resources together to help.  Thank you to everyone who attempted to assist with the rescue one year ago.

I hope the next time I see a Beaked Whale it is a healthy Blainville’s swimming in the ocean, and not stranded on the Norfolk Island shoreline.

Thanks, Yorlie for all helping.

Betty Matthews

April 2019

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Airport Master Plan

Friday, April 19, 2019

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