Canberra visit

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories

I recently returned from my first trip to Canberra of 2020, where I met with our Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, Nola Marino, to discuss and progress a number of important matters.

The key focus of our discussions on this occasion, which follows her December visit to Norfolk Island, was the range of projects and issues of significance to you – from livestock genetic diversity to water security, to modernised freight transportation and tourism development.

This was a conversation we commenced during her visit and – after reflecting on these matters – in our meeting in Canberra, we identified that development of agreed community priorities for Norfolk Island’s future is a key and important piece of work the Australian Government could support.

The purpose is for the community to establish the medium to long-term vision for Norfolk Island, and to map priorities in areas of your choosing. For example, priorities in areas such as economic development, social and community needs, culture, and the environment. Your vision would then be used by the Australian Government, in partnership with the Norfolk Island Regional Council and community, to guide future goals and investment.

This will be a plan by the community, for the community, to establish a positive and sustainable future reflecting your identity and values, and to guide future conversations with the Australian Government and the business sector.

Priority is being placed on progressing this piece of work, which will involve comprehensive community consultations and stakeholder engagement to document your focus and goals. Information on how to be a part of this important project will be communicated in the coming weeks.

The Assistant Minister also briefed me on her ongoing efforts to secure a long-term partner to deliver education and health services. She continues to represent the community of Norfolk Island in these conversations.

Joint Standing Committees
I was invited to meet with both the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade and the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories. As on this occasion, I am always looking for opportunities – with Ministers and forums – to represent and progress the interests of Norfolk Island as an Australian community in the Pacific region.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Women
I met again with Senator Marise Payne in her capacity as Minister for Women to continue exploring future opportunities for mentors and guest speakers, particularly for young women in the community.

Senator Zed Seselja
I regularly meet with Senator Zed Seselja and on this occasion he was particularly interested to understand our current water scarcity and freight pressures. He was also keen to hear of the success of recent cruise ship visits and the progress of the roll-out of 4G on the island. Senator Seselja will be visiting the island in the near future for the official opening of the Banyan Park Early Learning Centre.

Member for Bean
Bean MP David Smith, was similarly interested in understanding the water scarcity and freight pressures and he maintains an interest in the securing of long-term service provision partnership for health and education.

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications is working with me and my office to develop the aforementioned strategic vision. I met with the Department team and consultants to begin the planning and scheduling of community consultations.

I continued to inform the Department on the current and very real shortages of food and essential supplies that are ordinarily freighted in by ship. Work in relation to both long term and short term solutions is developing and I will continue to update the community as these progress.

Eric Hutchinson
Administrator of Norfolk Island

27 February 2020