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Lacks economic foundation to support community

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 26, 2008) - An Australian Cabinet Minister says Norfolk Island is in danger of becoming a failed state.

The Home Affairs Minister Bob Debus says the self-governing Pacific island is falling behind Australian national standards in a range of areas and needs to undertake reforms.

He says these could include ending the island residents’ exemption from paying income tax and extending Commonwealth services to the territory.

[PIR editor’s note: Norfolk Island, a remote island off Australia’s east coast, was first colonized by Polynesians from New Zealand. According to Wikipedia, these first settlers arrived in the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and survived for several generations before disappearing. Their main village site has been excavated at Emily Bay, where they left behind stone tools, the Polynesian Rat, and banana trees as evidence of their sojourn. The final fate of these early settlers remains a mystery. More recently, Norfolk was settled by families from Pitcairn Island, an equally remote island discovered by mutineers of the British ship Bounty. The island currently is aself-governing territory of Australia and has a population of about 2,100.]

Mr Debus has told parliament that the government of this very small place is not in a position to resolve its problems independently.

He says the island lacks an economic foundation strong enough to support basic programs and infrastructure.

Mr Debus says Australian citizens on Norfolk Island do not receive all the benefits and protections enjoyed by other Australians, nor do they have the same obligations.

He says Australia cannot afford to allow Norfolk Island to become a failed state, which, he says, is the likely outcome in the longer term if no action is taken.

Mr Debus says he will soon present policy to Cabinet aimed at securing the future of Norfolk Island as a sustainable, just and equal part of Australia into the 21st century.

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