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Cash-strapped territory needs budget support

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 5, 2010) – Norfolk Island’s chief minister David Buffett has told the territory’s assembly he will agree to new Australian Commonwealth laws to make the island more accountable, in exchange for federal cash and access to welfare and services.

[PIR editor’s note: Norfolk Island is a self-governing territory of Australia, governed from Canberra. The island was populated by former residents of Pitcairn Island – descendants of mutineers on the H.M.S. Bounty - in 1856. The island is located about 700 miles to the east of Australia’s west coast. ]

It is understood only about us$220,000 remained in the island’s treasury coffers at the end of June and bills were going unpaid.

The island’s assembly has agreed to the principle of taking part in the Australian tax system, and backed the passing of the Territories Law Reform Bill.

Norfolk Island residents currently pay no income tax, but have a 12 per cent GST.

Under the deal they are likely pay tax, but would gain access to benefits including Medicare.

The proposed new federal laws would give the island new electoral rules, an improved system of financial checks, and make it subject to public sector accountability measures such as freedom of information.

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