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Mayors Update - Keeping the Community Informed

Friday, May 25, 2018

“As I advised in last week’s press the following motion was unanimously agreed by Council on 16 May 2018:

Council requests that the Mayor make Minister McVeigh aware of the many representations and serious concerns held by the Norfolk Island business community relating to the imminent introduction of the Australian Awards System under the Fair Work Act 2009 (CTH) in its application to Norfolk Island; and Council’s support for progression as a matter of urgency of the review and monitoring of the impact of Commonwealth reforms on Norfolk Island as foreshadowed by the Minister in his letter to the Mayor of 20 February 2018 and endorsed by Council at its March 2018 meeting.’

“In writing to Minister McVeigh this week I spoke of my responsibility as a leader in the community to bring issues of community concern to the Minister’s attention as they arise; and that the above motion of Council relates to just one of a number of community concerns at this time” Mayor Adams said. “I provided the following background information to assist the Minister in his consideration of Council’s motion.”

‘The transition year 2015/2016 saw many changes brought or to be brought to Norfolk Island; and I am confident that you appreciate that the culture and way of life of the Norfolk Island people has evolved over a very long time independently of the culture and way of life of elsewhere. This fact was taken into account by the Australian Government in respect of Capital Gains Tax with special dispensation being made in respect of timing of its application to Norfolk Island (media release Minister Paul Fletcher 23 October 2014).’

“I took the opportunity to bring to the Minister’s attention” the Mayor said, “that leading up to the transition year the then Minister Jamie Briggs established an Advisory Council; and that on the matter of consultation on changes to legislation applicable to Norfolk Island the Advisory Council in their final report to the Commonwealth in 2016 recommended –

“…that the Australian Government establish a community consultation process to be applied for changes to laws on Norfolk Island which includes an impact assessment, a set timeframe for responding to the Minister and involves the Administrator and Regional Council’.

“It was this motion of the Advisory Council that prompted Council’s earlier resolution of 15 February 2017 conveyed to former federal minister Fiona Nash that recommended transitional arrangements and impact assessment needing to be undertaken to ensure the extension of NSW legislation is seamless and harmonises with the culture and way of life of the Norfolk Island people that has evolved over time; and in that case, independently of the culture and way of life of the people of New South Wales.

“It was also important to bring to the Minister’s attention that as a consequence of Councilrepresentation the Commonwealth put in place a Legislation Consultation Framework to “guidethe Australian Government’s consultation on legislative changes, including amendments toexisting laws and the application or creation of new laws” Mayor Adams said “and to mentionthat notwithstanding that the Fair Work Act 2009 commenced on Norfolk Island in a modifiedform on 1 July 2016 with its full implementation on 1 July 2018, impact assessment andcommunity consultation as recommended by the Advisory Council in their 2016 Report to theCommonwealth did not occur.

I also thought it was important to mention that the recent community meetings conducted byofficers from the Fair Work Ombudsman Office did little to assist in the education/consultationprocess and certainly did not constitute impact assessment.”

“As we all know the Norfolk Island economy is almost solely based on tourism” the Mayor said,“and it remains an unknown at this time how the introduction of the Modern Awards System onNorfolk on 1 July 2018 will impact on this vital industry. I have sought the Minister’s thoughts onhow at this very late stage an impact assessment might occur.”

“I look forward to meeting Minister McVeigh in Canberra next month” the Mayor said.

Robin Adams JP

24 May 2018

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