Working with the Australian Government, for you

I was fortunate to commence my most recent trip to Canberra for Government engagements (6 to 13 September) as a passenger on the inaugural Air Chathams passenger service to Auckland. Air Chathams is a family business and it was important as the Administrator of Norfolk Island to support Craig and Duane Emeny, in recognition of the challenges they have overcome to establish this regular service and their commitment to our community and the opportunities ahead.

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories
Meetings with our Assistant Minister, Nola Marino, will always be wide-ranging and cover strategic and topical issues. On this occasion, we discussed the ongoing work to secure a long-term partner to deliver education and health services, collaborating with the Norfolk Island community to develop a biosecurity strategy, working with the community to develop a sustainable and resilient local economy and strategies to support young leaders.

I also took the opportunity to brief Assistant Minister Marino on the resurfacing of the runway of the Norfolk Island Airport. While it is a Norfolk Island Regional Council project, it has been funded by the Australian Government and the Assistant Minister was interested to understand community views and how it is progressing.

I met with the senior advisor to the Agriculture Minister, Senator Bridget McKenzie, where we covered the Agriculture department’s recognition of the importance of education and communication on issues affecting Norfolk Island. We also discussed permit processes, with a focus on export of goods from Norfolk Island into the mainland along with development of a local biosecurity strategy and augmentation of the quarantine survey.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Youth & Sport
I thanked Senator Richard Colbeck for his recent efforts to support the effective provision of aged care packages on the island and also discussed aged care services more generally. Senator Colbeck is the Minister for Youth and Sport as well, so we also talked about opportunities, programs and support for young islanders.

Minister for Defence
I met with the Minister for Defence, Senator Linda Reynolds, on behalf of the 2020 Pacific Peace Committee and invited her to attend our 2020 Commemorations in August. My office will liaise with the Department of Defence to request defence assets in 2020.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women
I briefed Senator Marise Payne in her capacity as Minister for Women on local organisations such as Womans Advocacy Group of Norfolk Island (WAGNI), Club L and recent initiatives such as the Company Director training delivered by ACIL. We explored future opportunities for mentors and guest speakers, particularly for young women in the community.

Joint Standing Committee on National Capital and External Territories
I was also able to engage with Keith Pitt, Member for Hinkler and the Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on National Capital and External Territories, providing him with an overview of governance arrangements on Norfolk Island.

Member for Bean
Bean MP David Smith, who is the local member for Norfolk Island, was interested in what is working well and could be improved at a local level on the island. The member for Sturt, James Stevens was in attendance at the meeting with Mr Smith as they are both also on the Joint Standing Committee on National Capital and External Territories. I was interested to learn that Mr Stevens spent some of his early school years on Norfolk Island when his father was the Administrator of Norfolk Island.

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development
It was also another productive series of meetings with the Department staff in Canberra, where I discussed development of young leaders with the Deputy Secretary and talked about changes relating to the Norfolk Island Regional Council including the upcoming council elections and the general manager vacancy, with the Executive Director. In discussions with other senior staff, I received updates on the multipurpose health facility, the progress of the Commonwealth Grants Commission review and an economic analysis and modelling project. We also discussed progression of a biosecurity strategy and exploring the possibility of Norfolk Island as a domestic route from mainland Australia.

I hope this update was informative and I welcome any questions or further discussion you may like to have about my visit.

Eric Hutchinson
September 2019