My name is Alma Lynette Davidson (nee Buffett) and I have nominated for the Norfolk Island Governance Committee.
I was born in Norfolk Island in 1954; educated at the Norfolk Island Central School; Hunter Girls High in Newcastle, NSW and Canberra University. I lived in Australia and worked in various private enterprise and government positions.
I returned to live on Norfolk with my family in 1991 and was employed by the Administration of Norfolk Island in various positions including Immigration Officer, Human Resources, Policy & Projects and Senior Policy Adviser to the Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly until 2016.
Since returning home, I was appointed District Commissioner of the Norfolk Island Girl Guides for a number of years and I assist as a volunteer with community organisations.
Why have I nominated to be elected to the Norfolk Island Governance Committee?
I was one of 68% of Norfolk Island residents who voted ‘Yes’ in the Referendum conducted on 8 May 2015 which asked the following question:
“Should people of Norfolk Island have the right to freely determine their political status, economic, social and cultural development, and that people also be consulted at referendum or plebiscite on the future model of governance for Norfolk Island, before such changes are acted on by the Australian Parliament.”
The establishment of this Committee at long last recognises that Norfolk Island people have a right to a say in their governance model, albeit 8 years late.
This is a wonderful opportunity for Norfolk Island to have a say in developing a framework for our future governance model and be truly “consulted” thanks to the efforts of the Norfolk Island People for Democracy and the Council of Elders. Membership of the Committee will be an onerous task as all residents’ opinions and views as to the way forward need to be considered.
I am sure that those who have joined our community, no matter their citizenship, would like the right to have a say in our future model of government.
With a number of decades of experience working in the administrative and legislative arms of government both in Australia and on Norfolk, I believe I have excellent knowledge of our previous and current governance models to enable me to be an active participant on the Committee. The current Regional Council model has been an abysmal failure and costly to this community and to Australia.
Members of the community who have attended Public Meetings since 2015 would be aware that I am often outspoken about the failure of Norfolk Island’s current governance model and not hesitant to challenge Australian government representatives or indeed Ministers on issues of concern within the community.
Let me also say at the outset, I acknowledge that there have been some net benefits to members of the community with the Commonwealth’s commitment to its responsibilities in Norfolk Island; with access to Medicare; the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme; the Fair Work Scheme; Superannuation and increased social services support.
I support the role of the Committee to oversee and assist Norfolk Island’s transition to a new governance model, and facilitate continued collaboration, co-operation and communication between Norfolk Island’s new governing body, the Australian Government, and any service-delivery partners on Norfolk Island or in Australia.
I have advocated for the reinstatement of a valued added tax in Norfolk Island to replace imposts on land. There are very few countries or territories which do not have a valued added tax, GST or Sales Tax. The Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly was abolished because it was not financially sustainable but at the very first Operational Plan meeting of the Regional Council, I pointed out that there was nothing in the Plan to address financial sustainability. There is no way that this Island can be financially sustainable with a focus upon the main revenue source being land rates and thus we have no option but to rely on funding from the Commonwealth to fund our local Council services. Establishing fair and equitable revenue sources and opportunities available to Norfolk Island is another essential requirement for future discussions on a new governance model moving forward.
The hasty process in which the Commonwealth imposed the Regional Council model of governance and the opening up of our borders had insufficient or indeed no regard for our natural resources, food and housing availability nor availability of goods and services. We need to reinstate control of our immigration border.
I have advocated for the need to have Legislative Tables as we had in the past so that we know clearly what laws apply in Norfolk Island – the current system of Applied Laws, Commonwealth laws and ongoing Norfolk Island laws is complex and not ‘user friendly’. Currently laws are amended and/or extended to Norfolk Island without any Regulatory Impact Statements so often we are not made aware of the extension of laws or amendments affecting Norfolk Island.
I believe there are important actions that need to be immediately addressed:
• A first step would be for the Norfolk Island Act 1979 to be amended to reinstate a Preamble which recognises that Norfolk Island is first and foremost the home of the descendants of the Pitcairn Settlers and for the Preamble to recognise that those descendants are ethnically and culturally different. In this respect I was delighted to read that one of the Roles of the Committee is for the Committee to “recognise the continued heritage, culture and traditions of the island’s culturally distinct people and preserve their enduring connections with and to their homeland, its important sites, and surrounding sea.” ;
• In addition, the Australian Parliament list Norfolk Island as a ‘Non Self-Governing Territory with the United Nations’. This would be an acknowledgement of Norfolk Island’s right to self-determination. Whether Norfolk Islanders choose to exercise that right of self-determination is ultimately up to them; and
• Build trust, respect and accountability between all stakeholders during this process.
I EMPHASISE it’s not only what I want for the future of Norfolk Island but what community members want for our future – if elected I would encourage people to let me know what is important to them so that their issues can be raised with the Committee.
For a deeper insight into my views on a future governance model please read my submission to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories. My submission is on page two of this link
If anyone wishes to discuss any of the matters I have summarised above or in my Submission, please contact me on telephone 23898 or 50486 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to receiving your vote.
I take this opportunity to thank all those in the community who offered to nominate me.