Candidate statement by John Brown
Norfolk Island has been my home for nearly 50 years.
I am a lawyer, and for 22 years between 1982 and 2007, I was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Norfolk Island.
The Legislative Assembly was successful in those years.
I have decided to stand for election as a Community Representative on the Norfolk Island Governance Committee.
The primary purpose of that Committee will be to deliver a plan, methodology and timeline to modernise Norfolk Island’s governance, consistent with the needs and aspirations of its people.
The role of the Committee will conclude once a new Norfolk Island governance body is operational.
It is not clear how the Committee will relate to the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and the External Territories, a Committee of the Australian Parliament, which is carrying out s similar inquiry at present.
However some things are clear:
1. The Australian Government should demonstrate its goodwill by immediately reinstating the Preamble to the Norfolk Island Act, without amendment
2. It is important that there be three competent elected Norfolk Island members on the Committee, to push Norfolk Island’s barrow
3. There are numerous problems with the present Regional Council system. The new body will need to be transparent, accountable and respectful, and will need to be run on Norfolk Island, not from Brisbane
4. It will also need the protection of an ICAC type of body (Independent Commission Against Corruption), so that the public service returns to being the servant of the public, and elected members are able to be held accountable.
5. The new body must have restrictions on borrowing and spending. It was out of control spending that caused each of the Legislative Assembly and the Regional Council to flounder, in the absence of sound advice from their senior advisers of the time
6. Training for candidates, and for members of the new body, is essential, as is ongoing training for the public service.
7. It will not be possible to turn back all of the changes that have been made to Norfolk Island since 2015. There has been a huge increase in the Norfolk Island population, in real estate prices and in rents. We will need to learn to cope with that. But we need to sensibly plan the future.
8. The Australian government will need to continue to fund heath, education and social welfare, including the NDIS.
9. Nevertheless the cost of running Norfolk Island will need to be trimmed. I am far from convinced that the current number of staff at the senior level of the Regional Council can be justified, or that their performance reviews have been realistic.
10. The current wasteful spending must be brought under control, and a detailed review of the current revenue raising system will be required. That needs to include a genuine review of the benefits and the downside of the current Council rates system.
I urge you to enrol and to vote at this election, and I would appreciate receiving one of your votes.
John Brown. Phone: 22123. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 15 September 2023.