Australia will replace Norfolk Island’s parliament with a local council, introduce taxation and make welfare benefits available from July 2016.
The ABC reports Federal Cabinet signed off on the $136 million plan, with elections to be held in the first half of next year.
The Pacific Ocean island, an external territory of the Commonwealth of Australia, is home to around 2000 people and has been mostly self-governed since Federation.
The Norfolk Legislative Assembly has been the prime legislative body of Norfolk Island since its formation in 1979.
Currently residents of the small island, positioned between New Zealand and New Caledonia, pay 12% GST and tourism is the primary economic driver. However, the island owes the Commonwealth around $11 million.
Assistant Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Jamie Briggs says parliamentary reports recommended retiring the island’s parliament and is part of the Coalition’s election commitments.
“Infrastructure on Norfolk Island is run down, the health system is not up to standard and many laws are out of date,” Briggs said.
“Over 20 reports have told us the situation is unsustainable,” he said, adding “something has to change … this is the first step.”
New South Wales will be in charge of providing services to the island and while residents will need to pay personal and business taxes, they’ll be exempt from the 10% GST.
Norfolk Island’s Fourteenth legislative assembly, elected 13 March 2013, includes nine members:
- Hon. Robin E. Adams (Ms) MLA, Minister for Cultural Heritage and Community Services
- Hon. David E. Buffett MLA, Speaker
- Hadyn Evans MLA
- Ron Nobbs MLA
- David Porter MLA
- Hon. Tim J. Sheridan MLA, Minister for Finance
- Hon. Lisle D. Snell MLA, Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism
- Melissa Ward MLA
- Hon. Ron Ward MLA, Minister for the Environment
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