By Sasha Pei-Silovo – EM TV, Port Moresby
Norfolk Island People for Democracy, a group created soon after the abolishing of Norfolk Island’s legislature by Australia three weeks ago, says that it is receiving growing support.
As reported by Radio New Zealand, many of the island’s former political leaders are part of the group who aim at pushing for Norfolk’s inclusion as a non-self-governing territory under the United Nations, and to establish a more collaborative relationship with Australia.
The Norfolk Islanders say there are growing concerns over the lack of democratic say given to the people, with more than 200 people attending a recent public meeting to discuss ways forward.
Located 1,412 kilometres east of mainland Australia, Norfolk Island was originally settled by East Polynesians and became a part of the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901.
In May, the Abbott led Australian Federal Government voted to abolish the parliament of Norfolk which led to protests by locals, describing the move as “old colonial-style rule”.
The Australian Prime Minister went ahead with replacing the island’s parliament with a local council, despite the widespread outrage by Norfolk Islanders.
Australia’s lower house, with support from the opposition, passed changes that will make Norfolk islanders pay Australian taxes by July 2016 and in return locals will receive health and welfare benefits.
A Norfolk Island Minister, Robert Adams, described the Australian government move as an “abuse of human rights”.
“The Australian parliament will go down in history as the first since federation, and possibly the first in the British Commonwealth, to remove a democratically elected parliament” Adams said.