Norfolk Island Regional Council

EXCLUSIVE - Norfolk Online interviews Pauline Hanson

Friday, October 21, 2016

On Thursday October 20, Pauline Hanson gave an exclusive interview with Norfolk Online immediately prior to the public meeting held at Rawson Hall with the Norfolk Island community.

Pauline Hanson, the party leader of One Nation who has recently commenced a six year term as Senator for Queensland, has been on Norfolk Island since Tuesday on a fact-finding mission at the request of the Norfolk Island Council of Elders and the Norfolk Island People for Democracy. She was on the Island, speaking with interest groups such as the Chamber of Commerce, NIPD, the Council of Elders, farming producers and members of the fishing industry for four days and the public meeting on Thursday was the culmination of her trip.

Known as a controversial figure in Australian Politics, it did not take long before mainland media were covering her Norfolk expedition. The coverage so far has focused on a letter Senator Hanson has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, requesting the immediate dismissal of Hon. Gary Hardgrave. Senator Fiona Nash, who has ministerial responsibility for Norfolk Island through her Local Government and Territories portfolio, has been quoted by The Australian as saying that Hardgrave would not be sacked “based on vague and ­unsubstantiated allegations.” Likewise, Hardgrave himself responded to Hanson’s letter by saying the claims were “nonsense, and not worth responding to.”

In speaking with Norfolk Online, Senator Hanson stated that she “had more contact with the people [of Norfolk Island]” in her short time here, than what Senator Nash “has had in the past two years that she’s been holding this portfolio.” Hanson outlined the meetings that she has been having since her arrival on Tuesday, her interactions with the public, and the public meeting as her basis for this claim and even went so far as to say that the lack of connection with the community may also apply to Gary Hargrave, who serves on Norfolk as the Administrator. Hardgrave and Nash, according to Hanson, “are so out of touch with the people of the community that they need a good wakeup call” with regard to what’s happening on Norfolk Island. Nash did visit the island recently, but as Senator Hanson pointed out both in the interview and the public meeting, it was for only 24 hours and she spoke only to very select groups of people.

Hanson stated in her letter that “Mr Hardgrave appears to have mislead the Australian parliament and successive government ministers through his repeated claims that genuine democratic consultation with the people of Norfolk Island occurred prior to the abolition of self-governance, and that the majority of Norfolk Island residents support these changes.” She also called for an independent investigation into the Administration of the island. When asked by Norfolk Online as to the scope of that investigation, she reported that she would be seeking a conversation with Prime Minister Turnbull and Senator Nash in an attempt to get a dialogue going to present the community’s concerns to Turnbull and the Commonwealth Government, as ‘something has to be done.” If that is unsuccessful, she said, she would call for a Senate Inquiry so that the people of Norfolk Island could appear before the relevant senators to state their case to “really find out what is happening.” In the public meeting Senator Hanson outlined that she would ensure the relevant information she has collected while on the island would be delivered to the Senate regardless of the inquiry, stating she would be tabling documents in session upon her return.
Senator Hanson’s concerns come from the people of Norfolk Island—as she pointed out in her interview, she was invited here by community groups who are “desperate to get a voice.” Being the Senator for Queensland, she is not the representative for Norfolk Island, but the lack of response to petitions, and letters to Senator Nash, the Prime Minister and the Governor General gave the community a basis to reach out to her. She has responded to those pleas to “hear what the people have to say,” for whom she says she has “the utmost respect.” Her conception of the culture, language, and people of the community is that “they are not Australian. They are Norfolk.” Hanson is very concerned for the status of the island, with businesses closing and people leaving and doesn’t believe that “what the Government has done is in the best interests” of Norfolk Island. “What’s happening here is a complete waste of taxpayer money,” and although Hanson believes that “Australians would dearly like to help the people of Norfolk Island,” that is not what is happening right now. She repeatedly stated that she is concerned for the people, and with reference to former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology to the “Stolen Generation,” indicated that she does not what Australia to “say sorry again.”

Asked specifically about the current transition process that the Commonwealth has initiated on the island, Hanson called for “a hold on everything” with “a decent consultation process” that doesn’t come from “bureaucrats that are feeding rubbish to our politicians.” This responsibility, Hanson stated, falls to the politicians in Australia’s Parliament who have “passed something that is not representative of the people.” One Nation, who have four Senate seats following the 2016 election, holds the balance of power in the Senate and Hanson will “go [to the Senate] with a strong voice to represent the people, to try and get common sense so people will listen to what is happening [on Norfolk].” 

Her concern for the people of Norfolk is not dependent on their status as Australian citizens, because, she said, Norfolk Island has been operating as it’s own country, and the rules and regulations now being imposed on the island are outside of Norfolk’s culture and who “[they] are as a nation.” Norfolk, according to Hanson, should have self-determination and “the right to determine what the future should be.” Australia’s role in that should be to help Norfolk achieve that, and to continue in building on the infrastructure, culture, and industry that the people here have fostered since 1856. “What right,” Hanson asks, “does Australia have to come in and take [Norfolk’s] infrastructure and start telling [them] what to do?”

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