Hello Residents of Norfolk Island,
By way of introduction my name is Ron Ward, I am a long-term Norfolk Island resident of Pitcairn Island, Scandinavian and Australian lineage.
I have accepted nomination to this ballot for membership of the governance committee because I believe this is Norfolk Island’s last chance to remedy this incredibly complex, destructive and totally inappropriate system of government we have been living under since 2015/16.
Most of my working life has been focussed on various aspects of environmental management, some 22 years with the Australian Government’s Department of Environment, then later Argentine Ant project co-ordinator, a role I relinquished upon being elected to the 14th Norfolk Island Legislative Assembly in 2012. Upon election, I accepted executive office with responsibility for Environment, Lands and Public Works.
By nature, I would have preferred to avoid politics, but could not ignore the serious impacts to both Norfolk Island and its people that were becoming so apparent. Of particular concern to me was, and is, the imposed mix of so-called reforms that I and many others recognise as a policy of dispossession and disempowerment of Norfolk Island people. In saying Norfolk Island people, I am speaking not only of Pitcairn lineage Norfolk Islanders, but also of those who have dedicated years of their lives and efforts to life on this island.
Open immigration, along with an ever-increasing taxing of landowners to fund unnecessary, unwanted and unviable projects chosen and imposed by external people with no connection to the island, has proven beyond doubt the worth and necessity for self-determination. The imposition of an administrator in place of an elected council was the final insult to the people of this island, yet was proof positive that the imposed regional council model has failed, and is not fit for purpose.
Improved governance will only be achieved with unity, determination, forthright communication and sound guidance from the Norfolk Island representatives and community.
There are many possibilities and options so far as a more suitable model of governance is concerned. I envisage a locally elected, locally accountable, no-frills government capable of legislating in its areas of responsibility, supported by an appropriately skilled local workforce.
A revision of services delivered by all three levels of government (Commonwealth, State and Local) is essential, along with a willingness to develop a model of government specifically designed for this isolated, remote place – not some adapted package of laws from elsewhere with little or no connection with the circumstances of this island.
Since abolition of the Legislative Assembly, I have continued to campaign for a more equitable system of revenue raising than the ill-considered inequitable taxing of landholders generally referred to as rates.
I have made considerable submissions to relevant MPs, and to the recent JSC hearing, along with input on plans of management for public lands, and on draft legislation for the island. I am well used to dealing with Commonwealth and other government representatives at a range of levels.
If elected I would seek and welcome community input on any issues relevant to this governance process to enable the pursuit of the best possible outcomes for this island and its people.
I seek your support to continue this work as a member of this governance committee.
Ronald J. Ward