30 June 2016
Over this past year of transition, a number of milestones have been met during the Norfolk Island reform process. To summarise:
- Commonwealth law has been extended to Norfolk Island with the exception of 25 laws, including corporations law and communications laws, with these to be extended over the coming years;
- New South Wales law will be used as the basis for the Commonwealth Parliament to apply a number of laws to matters usually dealt with by states. Only a small number of such laws have been applied immediately, such as ordinances in place for local government to mirror NSW legislation;
- New services which have been established with the Commonwealth or their agents to provide social security payments, employment, taxation, immigration and border protection and agricultural services directly. New South Wales is providing management support to the Norfolk Island Health and Residential Aged Care Service (NIHRACS);
- The elections for councillors has been successfully conducted and five new councillors take up their positions effective as of 1 July supported by remodelled administration and staffing arrangements which better support a Council;
- The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development has established a new funding agreement with the Norfolk Island Regional Council. The funding agreement provides funding for the Council to undertake agreed state type functions such as the management of the courts and issuing of drivers licences. It also provides an untied Financial Assistance Grants type payment, equivalent to that which the Council would have received if it were part of NSW;
- A functional directory is being developed to outline who is responsible for which services to ease the transition to the new arrangements for the community;
- Underwriting of Air New Zealand services will continue supporting national connectivity of Norfolk Island.
Some asset responsibilities have changed reflecting the changes in service delivery arrangements, for example:
- Roads on Norfolk Island have transferred to the Regional Council;
- A number of unleased parcels of Commonwealth land have been transferred to the Regional Council, along with some public reserves;
- The NIHRACS is a Norfolk Island entity reporting directly to the Minister with responsibility for Territories or their delegate. The Commonwealth has taken ownership of most of the buildings and equipment to ensure significant investments in upgrades to meet Australian health care standards including a brand new digital mammogram for breast screen services;
- The School building has also transferred to the Commonwealth and already significant investments have been made and will continue to be made to bring the building up to Australian building standards.
- Cascade Jetty, owned by the Commonwealth, is being extended and the extension is on track to complete in the second half of 2017;
- A significant training programme has been delivered covering forklift and heavy machinery licenses, white card, working at heights and working in confined spaces; all critical to improved skills and duty of care in the construction and trades industries. Other training included safe food handling and responsible service of alcohol for the hospitality industry, chemical handling training for farmers and nursery industry workers, skills training for nurses at the hospital. Accredited child protection training for the early education sector has also been delivered along with a series of courses and seminars to improve skills in better practice company governance and small business planning and operations.
The Australia Government will continue to keep the community informed on its expenditure and during 2016–17 will outline the contractual service delivery arrangements in place to support the community, together with an outline of future capital expenditure.
The new management arrangements for the Kingston and Arthur Vale Heritage Site will provide strong expertise both in heritage management and tourism development and complement the investments being made at Cascade.
The Norfolk Island Gaming authority is now a Norfolk Island authority reporting to the Minister for Territories. On the conclusion of the term of existing Board members, effective 30 June 2016, two new interim appointments to the board have been made by me. These are Ms Robyn Fleming, Executive Director, Local Government and Territories Division, Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development; and Mr Carl Murphy, Chief Operating Officer; Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.
KPMG has been appointed to undertake the role of Director of the Authority, following the previous Director's resignation.
I look forward to working with the community in 2016–17 under the new arrangements.
The Hon Gary Hardgrave