Christopher Magri, nominee, Norfolk Island Governance Committee
In two weeks’ time, after more than a century of imposed governance arrangements, our community has a historically significant opportunity to design a new governance model for Norfolk Island and find common ground with Australia.
Our focus should extend beyond the immediate challenges, aiming to build a mutually beneficial governance model that protects and preserves everything that is best about our Island and its people.
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A stable constitutional foundation
Certainty and trust are fundamental elements in creating an enduring governance model; achieving this demands that the new model be established on a stable constitutional foundation and anchored in an honest and legally factual acknowledgement of our Island’s history.
This includes formal acknowledgement that Norfolk Island is a ‘distinct and separate’ territory and that it will be preserved in perpetuity as the homeland of the Pitcairn descendants. This acknowledgement should extend to the many other people, irrespective of their nationality, who have made Norfolk Island their home since 1856.
Such recognition will resonate deeply with our community and will provide a clearer understanding of why, as a legally distinct and separate territory, Norfolk Island’s governance must be treated differently from other places.
Given Norfolk Island’s unique constitutional association with Australia the only avenue for our community to achieve genuine democracy lies in having our own tailored legislative, administrative, and judicial systems. This approach is required to ensure we have direct control over our own laws, public service, land planning, population, and other matters of importance to our community.
Features of a new model
It is essential that the new governance model directly reflects our community’s needs and aspirations. My personal preference is for a governance model that:
combines the positive elements from each of Norfolk Island’s preceding governance arrangements with proven and effective constitutional frameworks found in similarly unique territories, such as the Falkland Islands and the Cook Islands;
is financially sustainable;
includes a robust mechanism for two-way communication and cooperation between Norfolk Island and Australia to foster good relations and manage our shared responsibilities; and
guarantees our right to vote and to participate directly in the affairs of our Island and to have laws that properly reflect our communal, cultural, and societal values.
Please take the time to share your views with the Committee after it is established.
The Governance Committee
My experience in government and business, coupled with extensive research and a long-standing interest in the legal and political history of Norfolk Island and its association with Australia, support my ability to take a measured and ultimately successful approach to the important work of the Governance Committee.
If elected, I look forward to liaising with all community members. At the conclusion of this process, my aim would be to ensure Norfolk Island has a well-considered democratic governance model that is freely chosen by our community and duly protected for the benefit of future generations.